Well, we started 2014 just where we left off in 2013. Another Razorback loss.
Arkansas’ losing streak is now 10 games, the longest in school history. Prior to this streak, the longest losing streak was seven games in 1990 (the Jack Crowe era) and seven games in 1952-53 (the end of the Otis Douglas era and the start of the Bowden Wyatt era). The 45-21 loss to Auburn marked the 13th consecutive conference loss, that obviously another school record.
Arkansas is 0-9 against ranked teams since the start of the 2012 season (curses, Bobby Petrino; you almost killed a program with your affair). For the first time in nine seasons as a head coach, Bret Bielema lost an opener.
Native Arkansan Gus Malzahn, by the way, is 30-3 at Jordan-Hare Stadium as either the offensive coordinator or head coach at Auburn. And to think that they called him “high school” during his one season at Arkansas.
At least there will finally be a victory this Saturday afternoon in front of a lot of hot fans and quite a few empty seats at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Arkansas State, which looked solid in the second half of its season-opening victory over Montana State, travels to Tennessee this week.
All in all, though, it’s a sorry week for SEC football.
The only conference game is Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, not exactly must-see TV. There will, however, be a lot of starched pink shirts and BMWs in the parking lot as the frat boys turn out from both schools.
The rest of the schedule consists of:
Florida Atlantic at Alabama
San Jose State at Auburn
Ohio at Kentucky
Sam Houston State at LSU
UAB at Mississippi State
Missouri at Toledo
East Carolina at South Carolina
Lamar at Texas A&M
Are you kidding?
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to go to Conway and watch the UCA Bears, who played well in a 42-35 loss at Texas Tech last Saturday.
Last week’s record was 4-0.
On to the picks for Week 2:
Arkansas 49, Nicholls State 15 — Yes, this is an improved Arkansas team. But you could be improved and still go 4-8. Auburn outgained an Arkansas squad that still can’t tackle 267-61 in the second half last Saturday. The Hogs had just two rushing yards in that second half. Auburn had both a 150-yard rusher and a 150-yard receiver for the first time in 13 years. This Razorback defense helps other schools set offensive records. It was the 11th consecutive game in which Auburn scored 30 or more points. Meanwhile, Nicholls State lost last week to Air Force, 44-16. I’ll likely pick the Henderson Reddies against Nicholls State next week. I wonder when was the last time Arkansas and Henderson played the same opponent on consecutive weekends.
Tennessee 37, Arkansas State 24 — The Red Wolves struggled for a half to start the Blake Anderson era in front of 26,143 spectators in Jonesboro before rolling to a 37-10 victory. It was the eighth consecutive ASU win over an FCS opponent. In his first career start at quarterback, Fredi Knighten out of Pulaski Academy had 368 total yards — 219 passing, 104 rushing and 45 receiving. Montana State, which trailed only 13-10 in the third quarter, came in ranked No. 18 in the FCS and has been ranked for more than 60 consecutive weeks. After cutting the Red Wolf lead to three points, the Bobcats punted five times and turned it over twice as the ASU defense took charge. Tennessee, coming off four consecutive losing seasons, had its first sellout in seven years and beat Utah State, 38-7, in a rare Sunday night came. Expect ASU to make it competitive for three quarters or so in Knoxville on Saturday.
UCA 29, Tennessee-Martin 20 — The Bears played well in Steve Campbell’s first game as the UCA head coach. In fact, the Bears had a 16-7 lead at one point and trailed just 21-16 at the half. UCA cut the Red Raider lead to seven points with 2:57 left in the game and tried an onside kick, but Tech recovered the kick and ran out the clock. Tennessee-Martin did not play quite as well against its FBS opponent. Kentucky scored on almost every possession in a 59-14 rout and outgained Tennessee-Martin, 656-398.
UAPB 38, Concordia College 27 — Poor ol’ UAPB. Last year, the Golden Lions started the season with a 62-11 drubbing at Arkansas State. This year’s opener was even worse. UAPB opened the season with a 65-0 loss to Dennis Franchione’s Texas State Bobcats down in San Marcos. UAPB is 1-6 in season openers under head coach Monte Coleman. Texas State (FYI, former Arkansas State defensive coordinator John Thompson is now on Franchione’s staff) had a school record 697 yards of offense. UAPB had just 215 yards. The good news is that tiny Concordia College out of Selma, Ala., comes to Pine Bluff on Saturday if the bus doesn’t burn up. Concordia is little more than a club program. Its only victory during a 1-9 campaign in 2013 was a one-point win over Little Rock’s Arkansas Baptist College, which plays at the junior college level. Corcordia did receive national attention last year when all of its equipment was destroyed in a bus fire as the Hornets were traveling to a game. Assistance streamed in from across the country, including the Green Bay Packers. Put this down as a Golden Lion victory. There may not be many more of them in 2014.
Arkansas Tech 35, Northwestern Oklahoma 21 — The Great American Conference season begins tonight (Thursday) in Russellville. Last season, Tech had 445 yards of offense in a 38-10 victory over Northwestern. The Wonder Boy defense gave up just 214 yards, its best outing of the season. The Wonder Boys have won nine of their past 10 season openers and will win again tonight. Tech was 5-6 last season. Northwestern was 2-9.
Harding 40, Southwestern Oklahoma 28 — This Harding program is the real deal. The Bisons went 9-2 a year ago (including a bowl game victory) with one of the top rushing attacks in NCAA Division II. Southwestern Oklahoma was 6-5. A Bison offense that averaged 359.7 yards per game on the ground in 2013 has four of the top five running backs from 2013 returning. That group of returners includes All-American fullback Romo Westbrook, who gained 1,123 yards. A key will be the play of Harding’s new starting quarterback, Ryley Claborn.
Henderson 57, Southern Nazarene 17 — The Reddies went undefeated in the regular season in 2012 and 2013, losing in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs each time. Henderson beat Southern Nazarene by scores of 63-21 in 2012 and 82-10 in 2013. Saturday’s game should be similar. Senior Reddie quarterback Kevin Rodgers could start for a number of FCS schools. In his previous two games against Southern Nazarene, he was 39 of 55 passing for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns. Southern Nazarene was 0-11 in 2013. Blowout alert.
East Central Oklahoma 39, UAM 36 — An East Central team that was 5-5 a year ago and a UAM team that was 5-6 square off in one of the most evenly matched games of the weekend. East Central took a 33-8 lead over the Boll Weevils in the first half last year and ended up winning by a score of 46-22. UAM had just 23 yards rushing in that game. East Central returns quarterback Spencer Bond, who threw for 2,811 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2013.
Southern Arkansas 26, Southeastern Oklahoma 25 — The Muleriders were 6-4 in 2013, while Southeastern finished with a 2-9 record. The Muleriders have put together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-03, but Southern Arkansas looks to be a bit down this year after losing quarterback Tyler Sykora and leading rusher Mark Johnson.