One of the greatest rivalries in all of college football will be played in the state this week.
No, not LSU at Arkansas.
It’s Battle of the Ravine week. At Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon, the No. 4 Tigers of Ouachita Baptist University will take on the No. 24 Reddies of Henderson State University. Having two nationally ranked teams do battle adds to the intrigue of what’s almost always a great game.
Ouachita is 10-0 and has already wrapped up its sixth Great American Conference championship in 11 seasons. Henderson is 8-2 and looking to end a five-game losing streak in the series. Ouachita leads the overall series 45-43-6.
It’s the only college football game in America where the visiting team walks to a road game. Every Arkansan should have the Battle of the Ravine on his/her bucket list. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
At 11 a.m. in Fayetteville, meanwhile, Arkansas will attempt to bounce back from a 21-19 loss to Liberty that had everyone remembering the Chad Morris era. When KJ Jefferson was stopped just short of the goal line on a two-point try with 1:11 remaining, there were plenty of bad flashbacks at Razorback Stadium.
Arkansas was favored by two touchdowns over a program that has only been in the FBS for five seasons. Liberty moved to 8-1 with its first win ever over a Southeastern Conference team.
In Baton Rouge on Saturday night, LSU stunned Alabama 32-31 in overtime. Jayden Daniels ran for a 25-yard touchdown and then found Mason Taylor for the two-point conversion to give Brian Kelly his first win over Nick Saban. It was the first Alabama loss in Baton Rouge since 2010.
We were 6-3 on the picks last week to bring the season record to 65-19. Here are the predictions for this week’s games:
LSU 35, Arkansas 31 — The Razorbacks will play much better this week. Will it be enough? Probably not. Jefferson was 23 of 37 passing for 284 yards and two touchdowns against Liberty, but he also had the first two-interception game of his career. Arkansas came into the Liberty game as the nation’s No. 6 rushing team but was held to a season-low 144 yards. The Razorbacks were just four of 16 on third down, and Arkansas was held without a touchdown in the first half for the first time this season. The Hogs had 14 negative-yardage plays. Some things must change and change quickly to keep the LSU game from getting ugly.
Ouachita 30, Henderson 24 — These games are almost always close. Ouachita won last year on a late 53-yard field goal. Last Saturday, the Tigers were down 10-0 in the first quarter at Southeastern Oklahoma but clawed back to take a 19-18 lead at halftime. Ouachita then outscored the Savage Storm 21-0 in the second half. The Tigers are going for their fourth undefeated regular season since 2014. Senior T.J. Cole had 143 rushing yards, two touchdowns on the ground and passed for another touchdown in the win. Henderson warmed up for the Battle of the Ravine with a 51-24 thrashing of 1-9 Oklahoma Baptist. Quarterback Andrew Edwards was 17 of 20 passing for 268 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran eight times for 70 yards. Henderson has won four consecutive games.
Arkansas State 39, Massachusetts 28 — It has been a long season for Arkansas State (2-7 overall and 1-5 in Sun Belt Conference play), but there’s hope this week. The Red Wolves had an open date to get healthy and are now at home Saturday afternoon against a 1-8 Massachusetts squad. The only UMass victory was 20-3 over Stony Brook. The losses have been by scores of 42-10 to Tulane, 55-10 to Toledo, 28-0 to Temple, 20-13 to Eastern Michigan, 42-24 to Liberty, 34-7 to Buffalo, 23-13 to New Mexico State and 27-10 to Connecticut.
Stephen F. Austin 23, UCA 22 — UCA fell to 4-5 overall and 3-1 in ASUN play with a 42-14 loss to Eastern Kentucky. The Bears were without running back Darius Hale, who injured a hamstring the previous week against North Alabama. UCA must go on the road this week to take on a 5-4 Stephen F. Austin team. SFA has posted wins of 31-27 over Alcorn State, 98-0 over Warner from Florida, 41-38 over Abilene Christian, 41-24 over Tarleton State and 41-38 over Southern Utah. The losses have been by scores of 42-17 to Jacksonville State, 52-17 to Louisiana Tech, 17-16 to Sam Houston and 47-44 to Utah Tech. In a game between teams that seem evenly matched, we will give a slight edge to the home squad.
Prairie View A&M 19, UAPB 10 — UAPB, in its second game under an interim head coach, fell 36-10 to Grambling on the road last Saturday. The Golden Lions are now 2-7 overall and 0-6 in SWAC play. Prairie View is 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference. The wins have been by scores of 40-23 over Texas Southern, 24-15 over Alabama State, 34-14 over Grambling, 54-21 over Lamar and 58-48 over Bethune-Cookman. The losses have come by scores of 21-13 to Abilene Christian, 31-14 to Incarnate Word, 45-13 to Southern and 23-16 to Alcorn State.
Harding 36, Arkansas Tech 27 — Harding improved to 8-2 last Saturday with a 37-29 victory over 3-7 Southwestern Oklahoma. Jhalen Spicer had 108 yards rushing for the Bisons. Tech evened its record at 5-5 with a 45-20 win over 1-9 Northwestern Oklahoma. Devontae Dean carried 20 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns for the Wonder Boys.
Southern Arkansas 34, UAM 33 — Southern Arkansas fell to 4-6 as Southern Nazarene came to Magnolia and escaped with a 49-44 victory. The winning touchdown for Nazarene (also 4-6) came with just seven seconds left in the game. UAM fell to 3-7 with a 16-0 loss to 7-3 East Central Oklahoma. It was the sixth consecutive loss for the Boll Weevils.