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College football: Week 10

Could it possibly be Week 10 already?

Yes, we’re approaching the first weekend in November.

Remember what Frank Broyles used to say: “They always remember what you do in November.”

Granted, there’s not much to look forward to if the Razorbacks are the only college football team you follow, but five of the six NCAA Division II teams in the state go into November with winning records.

Back on Oct. 19, it was upset Saturday in the Southeastern Conference.

Last Saturday was more like blowout Saturday in the SEC. At least Arkansas wasn’t playing and getting blown out.

We went 6-0 on the picks last week, making the record 13-0 during the past two weeks.

Though we had picked Louisiana-Lafayette to win, it still was disappointing to watch Arkansas State play so poorly at home in a nationally televised game last Tuesday night. The Red Wolves have a chance to turn things around on Saturday night in Mobile against a relatively new South Alabama program.

UCA rewarded us with a victory in Conway against Stephen F. Austin. It was sad to see quarterback Wynrick Smothers’ senior season end early due to an injury, but the Bears are now 2-0 under the leadership of quarterback Ryan Howard. He has been impressive.

We picked UAPB to beat Mississippi Valley State by a score of 21-18, and the Golden Lions rewarded our pick with a 38-18 victory. So we got half the score right. It was nice to see Monte Coleman’s team pick up its first W in what had been a miserable season to that point.

We picked Henderson to beat Harding by a score of 39-30 and again got half of it right. The undefeated Reddies, now ranked No. 4 nationally in NCAA Division II, won by a score of 45-30.

We almost nailed the Ouachita-Arkansas Tech game in Russellville. We called it 35-25 in favor of Ouachita. The final score was 34-24 as the Tigers went to 6-1, ensuring the school’s sixth consecutive winning season. Ouachita is the only college program in the state — at any level — with six consecutive winning seasons. Congratulations to head coach Todd Knight and his staff. Ouachita has a smaller enrollment and a smaller athletic budget than any of its opponents and yet has won twice as many games as it has lost (38-19) since the start of the 2008 season.

The margin was much closer than we had expected, but UAM still managed to win its homecoming game with a 22-19 decision over winless Southern Nazarene. The Weevils are 5-3, a vast improvement over last year’s 1-10 record.

We’re now 57-10 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 10:

Auburn 40, Arkansas 30 — It’s the return of Gus Malzahn to northwest Arkansas. Auburn, with its 7-1 record, has been the most improved team in the SEC this fall. In last week’s 45-10 nonconference victory over Florida Atlantic, the Tigers had 628 yards of offense, with 440 of that coming in the first half. For those who think of a Malzahn offense as a passing offense, consider the fact that Auburn leads the SEC in rushing. The Tigers had 422 yards on the ground last Saturday. Malzahn is smart enough to adjust to the talent that’s on hand. He showed us that last year at Arkansas State. Something tells us that Arkansas hangs around for at least three quarters of this home game. No 52-0 blowouts this time.

Arkansas State 37, South Alabama 28 — The 3-4 Red Wolves need to get back on track, and they have a chance to do so against South Alabama. The game will be played in the same Mobile stadium where the Red Wolves won their bowl game last season, so they will be familiar with the surroundings. South Alabama also is 3-4. The wins have come by scores of 41-39 over Tulane, 31-24 over Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky squad and 38-21 over Kent State. The losses have been by scores of 22-21 to Southern Utah, 31-24 to Tennessee, 34-33 to Troy and 33-21 to Texas State. To win on the road, ASU will have to play much better than it did in the 23-7 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Red Wolves were held to fewer than 200 yards of offense for the first time in five years and had their lowest scoring output in Jonesboro in six seasons.

UCA 41, Northwestern State 27 — As noted, the Bears are 2-0 with Ryan Howard at quarterback. There’s no reason to pick against them now. In the 66-31 win over Stephen F. Austin, Howard threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns. UCA had 681 yards of offense and scored 38 of its points in the third quarter. The Bears are 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the Southland Conference. Northwestern State of Louisiana is 3-5. The Demons won’t be able to hang with the Bears even though the game is being played in Natchitoches (which is a much better city for eating meat pies than watching great college football).

Henderson 51, UAM 21 — Henderson’s toughest test to this point in the season came on the road at Harding, and the Reddies were up to the task. The Reddie offense made its presence known with a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. Junior quarterback Kevin Rodgers were 19 of 26 passing for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Henderson lost its all-time leading receiver, Robert Jordan, to a broken leg. Jordan finished his career with 2,186 receiving yards. The loss shouldn’t matter against a Boll Weevil squad that, while improved from 2012, still needed three interceptions and two special teams touchdowns to avoid the upset against Southern Nazarene. Henderson’s tougher tests will come in its final two games against Southern Arkansas and Ouachita as the Reddies attempt to go undefeated in the regular season for a second consecutive year.

Ouachita 39, Southern Arkansas 38 — This should be the game of the week in the Great American Conference. Ouachita could still earn a second conference championship in three seasons by winning its final three games against SAU, UAM and Henderson. The Muleriders certainly have the talent to knock off the Tigers in the homecoming game at Magnolia. SAU beat Ouachita in Arkadelphia last year, 44-28. The Muleriders were picked near the top of the conference in preseason but have been a bit of a disappointment so far at 4-3. They’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game. Ouachita overcame four turnovers for its double-digit victory at Russellville last Saturday. Wide receiver Jalen Jones from Conway had 10 receptions for 103 yards. Meanwhile, a veteran Tiger defense held Tech to just 57 yards rushing.

East Central Oklahoma 27, Arkansas Tech 19 — The 3-5 Wonder Boys go on the road to Ada, Okla., to take on an East Central team that’s 4-3 following a 24-21 victory over Southwestern Oklahoma. The two squads appear evenly matched with a slight edge going to the home team.

Harding 43, Southeastern Oklahoma 26 — With two losses already, the Bisons probably won’t earn a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs. But if Harding wins its final three games against Southeastern Oklahoma, East Central Oklahoma and Arkansas Tech, it will have an 8-2 record and likely receive a bid to that new bowl game in Texarkana. The Bisons lead Division II in rushing and that spells trouble for a 2-6 Southeastern Oklahoma team that lost last week by a score of 25-21 to a Northwestern Oklahoma squad that had come into the game with an 0-7 record.

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