It’s good to have the college football season under way, isn’t it?
Even if you’re still treating that sunburn from last Saturday afternoon at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
It’s yet another Saturday afternoon game this week for the University of Arkansas, but the weather should be delightful at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium with highs in the 70s.
Some notes following Arkansas’ season-opening 48-13 victory over UTEP:
— It was the ninth consecutive year for Arkansas to win its home opener.
— Arkansas is now 95-23-4 in season openers.
— Bret Bielema is now 35-2 as a head coach in nonconference games.
— Brandon Allen was 14 of 18 passing for a career-high 308 yards and four touchdowns.
— Keon Hatcher had six receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
— Alex Collins rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown. It was his eighth career 100-yard game.
The other three NCAA Division I teams in the state — Arkansas State, UCA and UAPB — all lost. And all of them looked bad in the process.
In the Great American Conference of NCAA Division II, the league title has never left Arkadelphia since the GAC was formed. Ouachita has won it twice, and Henderson has won it twice. Both Ouachita and Henderson had to go on the road to Oklahoma in Week 1, and both teams won by seven points as their opponents drove into the red zone in the final minute of play.
We were 10-0 on the picks in Week 1. We won’t get cocky. Don’t expect that perfect record to survive Week 2. But here goes:
Arkansas 51, Toledo 21 — We understand there will be a scrimmage at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon as a warm-up for a Brad Paisley concert. Arkansas stayed at No. 18 in The Associated Press poll and moved up two spots to No. 18 in the USA Today coaches’ poll. Toledo shouldn’t provide much more of a challenge than UTEP did. The goals remain the same for the Razorbacks: Get the starters quality reps, put points on the board early so lots of people can play in the second half and don’t get anyone hurt.
Missouri 47, Arkansas State 24 — A Southeastern Conference team comes to Jonesboro. How about that? Missouri athletic department officials were truly surprised when ASU turned down the big bucks the school was offered to play this game at a “neutral” location in St. Louis. Good for the Jonesboro restaurants and hotels, which stand to make a lot of money this weekend. ASU fell 55-6 in its opener to USC in Los Angeles. At least the $1.3 million check didn’t bounce. The Trojans led 28-0 at halftime and never looked back. Missouri opened with a 34-3 win over Southeast Missouri State as Maty Mauk passed for 181 yards and two touchdowns. ASU should be a bit more of a challenge … but just a bit.
Oklahoma State 40, UCA 23 — The Bears were awful in their opener, falling 45-16 to Samford in Birmingham. The home team had five scoring drives of five plays or less in its first game under a new head coach, Chris Hatcher. It gets even more difficult this week for UCA as the Bears travel to Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State at T. Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys were less than impressive last Thursday night in a 24-13 win over Central Michigan. This isn’t a vintage OSU team, but it doesn’t seem to be a vintage UCA team, either.
UAPB 22, Morehouse 20 — The Golden Lions were on ESPN last weekend (while the Razorbacks only rated ESPNU). Monte Coleman’s team couldn’t take advantage of the exposure, falling 35-7 to South Carolina State while playing at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. UAPB was held to just 191 yards of offense. For the home opener, the Golden Lions get a Division II school, Morehouse College of Atlanta. Morehouse is one of the most famous HBCUs in the country, an all-male college that has produced a number of the nation’s top African-American leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Morehouse opened the season with a victory over Edward Waters College. The Maroon Tigers were 6-4 in 2014. UAPB should beat a Division II school at home, yet you get the feeling this is going to be one of those years when nothing comes easily for the Golden Lions.
Henderson 25, East Central Oklahoma 19 — The Reddie home opener is on a Thursday night. The Henderson offense didn’t look the same last week as the post-Kevin Rodgers era began. Rodgers was the quarterback who led the Reddies to 30 victories the previous three seasons along with GAC championships in 2012 and 2013. The Reddie defense was the key this time. Henderson had a goal-line stand in the final minute to preserve a 23-16 win in Durant, Okla., against Southeastern Oklahoma. Henderson will be tested again in Arkadelphia on Thursday night against an East Central Oklahoma team that gave defending conference champion Ouachita all it wanted a week ago.
Ouachita 31, Southeastern Oklahoma 28 — Ouachita also has a new quarterback — redshirt sophomore Austin Warford from Malvern, who has the big shoes of Kiehl Frazier to fill. Frazier, the Auburn transfer, led Ouachita to an undefeated regular season last year. The offense was solid, though, in a 31-24 victory against East Central. It was the Tiger secondary that was hurting, giving up more than 400 yards through the air. Ouachita came up with an interception in the end zone in the final minute to preserve the win. Southeastern Oklahoma will have a decent chance of winning in Arkadelphia on Saturday night unless the Tiger secondary shows vast improvement.
Arkansas Tech 39, Oklahoma Baptist 30 — In its first game as a member of the GAC, Oklahoma Baptist gave Harding all it could handle before falling in overtime. Arkansas Tech, meanwhile, had 460 yards rushing in a 62-14 win against a Southern Nazarene team that was 0-11 in 2014. This will be a much stiffer test for the Wonder Boys, but they are at home. Raymond Monica is in his third season at Tech, and this appears to be a far better team (especially on offense) than his first two.
Harding 59, Southern Nazarene 18 — Harding got a scare last week in Oklahoma, hanging on 20-19 in overtime against Oklahoma Baptist. It was a wake-up call for the Bisons, and poor ol’ Southern Nazarene — the GAC’s least talented team — will be the one to pay in Searcy on Saturday.
Southern Arkansas 27, Northwestern Oklahoma 26 — The Muleriders had to come from behind in the fourth quarter last Saturday in Magnolia to overcome Southwestern Oklahoma, 28-24. Northwestern looked much improved from last season, defeating UAM in Monticello, 52-31. Coach Bill Keopple thinks this is his best team yet at SAU. Still, the Muleriders will have to play better than they did last week to get the win this Saturday night way out west in Alva, Okla.
Southwestern Oklahoma 35, UAM 17 — In the narrow loss at Southern Arkansas, Southwestern Oklahoma appeared to be a far better team than the one a year ago. UAM jumped to a 17-0 lead in its loss to Northwestern Oklahoma and then faded. The long trip to Weatherford, Okla., won’t help matters for the Boll Weevils.