We went 5-2 last week. We thought Southern Arkansas might be able to work some magic at home in Magnolia as the Muleriders had done earlier in the season against West Alabama. As it turned out, the Riders couldn’t get it done against Harding. And nationally ranked Ouachita hurt us when its last-minute field goal attempt to win the game against UAM was blocked.
So we were 5-2 on the week. The season record stands at 26-11.
The 2-2 Razorbacks played pretty well in Arlington against an even weaker-than-expected Texas A&M team. It will be a much stiffer test in Fayetteville on Saturday morning against 5-0 Auburn.
Arkansas State also played well at Iowa. It still hurts that the Red Wolves let that conference game get away from them the previous week against Troy. The Red Wolves next play on Tuesday of next week at Louisiana-Monroe in an ESPN2 game. We’ll save that pick for early next week. However, this is as good a time as any to point out that college football should NEVER be played on a Tuesday night.
Here are this week’s picks:
Arkansas 35, Auburn 31 — It’s the matchup you have been waiting for: Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson against Auburn offense coordinator Gus Malzahn. If it all came down to that, I think I know which team I would pick. But the Arkansas offense is going to have a lot to say about the outcome of this game. If the fans will wake up (morning crowds in Fayetteville are traditionally quiet), Arkansas will win an exciting, high-scoring affair.
Jackson State 27, UAPB 24 — The 2-2 Golden Lions were tied 0-0 at the half with Alcorn State on ESPNU last Thursday night when the storms moved into Pine Bluff. They waited until after 11 p.m. for the skies to clear, and then SWAC officials called the game off. This Saturday brings a trip to Jackson, Miss., for a 4 p.m. game against Jackson State. The Tigers lost their first three games to Mississippi State, Tennessee State and Grambling. They then recovered last week to win 22-14 over Southern University in Jackson. We’ll give the home team a slight edge.
UCA 42, Northwestern State 28 — After back-to-back easy wins in Conway over NCAA Division II schools, the 3-1 Bears move into the Southland Conference portion of their schedule. The game is in Natchitoches (bring me back some meat pies, Clint), but that shouldn’t matter. The Demons are 0-4 with losses to Houston, Grambling, North Dakota and Baylor. Having played Hawaii well on the road and having wiped out Western Kentucky on the road, Turpin Stadium will not intimidate the Bears.
UAM 36, West Georgia 17 — Remember, this is a Boll Weevil team that came close to making the NCAA Division II playoffs last year. They disappointed their fans with a 1-4 start and then came to life last week at home against previously undefeated Ouachita. With newfound confidence, the Weevils won’t slip up on CSS television Thursday night against a West Georgia team that’s 0-15 since the start of last season.
Arkansas Tech 46, Southern Arkansas 20 — The Wonder Boys are 3-2 with road losses at West Alabama and No. 3 North Alabama. They haven’t lost yet at home this season, and they won’t lose this Saturday night against a 1-4 Mulerider team that struggled in a big way the past two weeks against Henderson and Harding.
Ouachita 38, Harding 30 — After back-to-back home wins over traditional Gulf South Conference powers Valdosta State and Delta State, Ouachita’s schedule seemed to set up in a way that could allow the Tigers to enter the Battle of the Ravine against Henderson with a 9-0 record. Then, the Tiger special teams laid an egg at the Cotton Boll in Monticello. Two field goal attempts were blocked. One of those was returned for a touchdown. A punt was blocked, setting the stage for another UAM touchdown. A short field goal was missed. Ouachita has been strong at home, however, and the home side is always packed in Arkadelphia for the homecoming game.
Henderson 31, Valdosta State 28 — The Reddies are on a roll. Having played Division I-AA McNeese State and Division II power North Alabama well in losses earlier in the season, Henderson has scored 109 points in wins over Southern Arkansas and West Georgia the past two weeks. North Alabama is 4-0 in the GSC. Ouachita and Henderson are right behind at 3-1. The Reddies get a huge win on the road Saturday afternoon against tradition-rich Valdosta State.