So what’s the state of mind of the LSU football team following that 29-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama last Saturday night in Baton Rouge?
And does it really matter as the Tigers head to Fayetteville for what promises to be a cold night game (and one that probably will be played before a sparse crowd) at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium?
The Tigers had no answer for Tua Tagovailoa last Saturday as he threw two touchdown passes and ran 44 yards for another score.
“We really wanted to make a statement in this game,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “What better opportunity is there to make a statement than the circumstance we were in.”
Arkansas has had two weeks to prepare for the game against LSU. But again, does it really matter? The talent difference between the two squads is so great that I think the answer is “no.”
The better fan experience Saturday likely will be in Arkadelphia for the Battle of the Ravine, which is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. at Henderson’s Carpenter-Haygood Stadium. Ouachita is 10-0, ranked fourth in the country in NCAA Division II and has already secured its second consecutive Great American Conference championship (and its fourth title in the eight years the conference has existed). Henderson would like nothing better, of course, than to keep this from being the first Ouachita team to go 11-0 in the regular season (the undefeated 2014 team only played 10 regular-season games).
We were 4-3 on the picks last week to make the season record 64-20.
Here are the selections going into Saturday’s games:
LSU 34, Arkansas 20 — If LSU is indeed experiencing an Alabama hangover, the Hogs might hang around for three quarters or so. Last week, LSU’s defense allowed Tagovailoa to go 25 of 42 through the air for 295 yards. LSU enters the game with records of 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas is the only SEC team without a conference victory as the Razorbacks find themselves 2-7 overall and 0-5 in conference play. Expect Tiger quarterback Joe Burrow to have a much better game than a week ago when he was sacked five times and had a late pass intercepted in the end zone. Alabama held the Tiger running game to just 12 yards. The Crimson Tide finished with a 576-196 advantage in total yards while beating LSU for the eighth consecutive time.
Ouachita 31, Henderson 21 — The Battle of the Ravine is the best small college football rivalry in the country, and it’s right here in Arkansas. It’s the small college version of Alabama against Auburn — a game that divides families and is talked about 12 months a year. The two schools first played each other in football in 1895, and the series is almost even after all these decades. Henderson leads 43-42-6. The game has been decided by a touchdown or less in 42 of those 91 contests. The series was suspended from 1951-62 due to excessive vandalism. Attending a Battle of the Ravine should be on every Arkansan’s bucket list. Henderson is having a down season. The Reddies come in at 5-5 following a 24-17 loss to UAM in Arkadelphia a week ago, but this is the Reddies’ bowl game. Expect Henderson to play far better than it did a week ago.
Arkansas State 35, Coastal Carolina 32 — Arkansas State makes the long trip to Conway, S.C., to take on a Coastal Carolina team that’s 5-4 overall and 2-3 in Sun Belt Conference play. Coastal Carolina’s victories have come by scores of 47-24 over Alabama-Birmingham, 58-21 over Campbell, 30-28 over Louisiana-Lafayette, 24-13 over Massachusetts and 37-34 over Georgia State. The losses have been by scores of 49-15 to South Carolina, 45-21 to Troy, 45-20 to Louisiana-Monroe and 23-7 to Appalachian State. ASU moved to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in Sun Belt play last Saturday with a 38-14 victory over South Alabama at Jonesboro. Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen was 26 of 37 passing for 332 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in that game. He’s now fifth on the all-time Sun Belt list with 74 touchdown passes.
Incarnate Word 27, UCA 26 — The Bears fell to 5-4 overall and 4-3 in the Southland Conference with a disappointing 38-24 loss to Lamar last Saturday night in Conway. Lamar rolled to a 35-16 halftime lead and never looked back. Luke Hales, UCA’s redshirt freshman quarterback, was 18 of 45 passing for 257 yards and one touchdown. McNeese State, Nicholls State and Incarnate Word are tied for the Southland Conference lead at 5-2. Incarnate Word comes to Conway for Saturday afternoon’s game with a 5-4 record overall. The wins have been by scores of 31-7 over Stephen F. Austin, 44-34 over Abilene Christian, 52-34 over Southeastern Louisiana, 45-17 over McNeese State and 43-26 over Sam Houston State. The losses have been by scores of 62-30 to New Mexico, 58-16 to North Texas, 27-21 to Lamar and 48-21 to Nicholls State.
Southern University 45, UAPB 29 — A long season for the Golden Lions got even longer before a big homecoming crowd in Pine Bluff last Saturday afternoon as UAPB fell 45-14 to Alabama A&M. The game wasn’t in doubt after the visitors took a 14-0 halftime lead. UAPB (1-8, 0-5) finished with 378 yards of offense. Taeyler Porter, who had come in averaging 130 yards rushing per game for the Golden Lions, was held to 40 yards on 15 carries. Southern University, this Saturday afternoon’s opponent in Baton Rouge, is 5-3 overall and leads the west division of the SWAC with a 4-1 conference record. The Southern victories have come by scores of 33-18 over Langston, 29-27 over Alabama A&M, 38-0 over Prairie View A&M, 21-7 over Texas Southern and 41-7 over Jackson State. The losses have been by scores of 55-7 to TCU, 54-17 to Louisiana Tech and 20-3 to Alcorn State.
Southern Arkansas 33, UAM 30 — Southern Arkansas came to Arkadelphia last week with a chance to gain a share of the GAC lead with a win over Ouachita. The Muleriders, however, fell to 8-2 as the Tigers thrashed the visitors by a final score of 35-10. SAU can still earn a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs with a victory in Monticello against a UAM team that has won four of its past fives games (losing only to Ouachita during that stretch). In the Boll Weevils’ win at Henderson last Saturday, UAM senior quarterback Cole Sears was 12 of 23 passing for 185 yards and a touchdown. Devonte Dean rushed for 75 yards on 22 carries. I expect the Weevils to give SAU all it can handle.
Harding 49, Arkansas Tech 25 — Harding is 8-2 and has an outside shot at a playoff berth. The Bisons host a 3-7 Arkansas Tech team that has played below expectations all season. Harding won 24-10 against Southeastern Oklahoma last Saturday as Cole Chancey rushed for 99 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. The Bisons rushed for 258 yards and only passed for 21 yards on three passes. Tech fell 28-26 at home to East Central Oklahoma after having led 21-7 at the half. The season can’t finish fast enough for Wonder Boy fans. Harding, meanwhile, will have at least one more game. The Bisons will play in a bowl game if they don’t make the playoffs.