The record was 5-3 last week, making the Southern Fried season record 14-3.
I’ve now seen four college games in two weeks. That’s a pace I won’t be able to keep up.
On Thursday night, I was in Omaha as Ouachita stunned the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a team that had been ranked No. 12 nationally in Division II coming into the season.
On Saturday night, I was in the sauna known as War Memorial Stadium as the Razorbacks took care of business against Louisiana-Monroe.
It’s a sign of just how far the Arkansas program has come under Bobby Petrino that people were complaining about a 31-7 victory. You might remember that two years ago against Louisiana-Monroe, the Hogs had to score late to take the lead and then hold their breath as the Warhawks missed a last-second field goal attempt. Still, there are questions about the Arkansas offensive line going into the game at Georgia. The line didn’t give Ryan Mallett much protection Saturday night. And you have to wonder about a ground game that only managed 99 yards against a Sun Belt Conference team.
One of the three games I predicted incorrectly last week was the Arkansas State game. I was sorely disappointed in the Red Wolves’ defense as Louisiana-Lafayette built a 31-7 lead. Arkansas State came roaring back in the fourth quarter to cut it to 31-24, but the hole was too big to dig out of for the Red Wolves. So the curse of Lafayette continues. ASU last won there in 1992. Steve Roberts is 0-5 when he takes teams there. Four of those five losses have been by seven or fewer points.
I do think ASU sophomore quarterback Ryan Aplin is the real deal. He was 25 of 45 passing for a school-record 438 yards and two touchdowns.
I failed to predict victories by UCA and UAM.
I badly overestimated the kind of team Eastern Illinois would have and likely underestimated the Bears. UCA rolled to a 37-7 road victory to go to 2-0 on the season. The Bears got two touchdowns each from sophomore quaterback Terence Bobo out of Atkins and redshirt freshman quarterback Wynrick Smothers out of Louisiana. When Jordan Jefferson left Destrehan High School for LSU, Smothers took his place at quarterback. My friends in Conway tell me he’s going to be a great field general.
Nathan Dick completed 22 of 30 passes for 167 yards. Smothers was seven of seven passing for 46 yards. UCA finished the game with 376 yards of offense and held Eastern Illinois to 120 yards.
UAM, meanwhile, showed yet again what a tough league the Gulf South Conference is. For a third consecutive year, the Boll Weevils stepped up to play a Division I-AA team from the SWAC. And for a third consecutive year, the Weevils won. The victim was UAPB in 2008 and 2009. This year’s SWAC victim was Southern University at Baton Rouge. And it wasn’t even close. UAM won 31-7 after leading 24-0 at the half. UAM gained 371 yards in that game and held Southern to just 117 yards. UAM senior quarterback Scott Buisson passed for 164 yards and rushed for 101 yards.
UAM’s game at Ouachita on Saturday night could be one of the best games in all of Division II this weekend. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at A.U. Williams Field.
Let’s get to the picks:
Arkansas 31, Georgia 28 — Georgia did not play well in a 17-6 loss on the road at South Carolina. The Bulldog defense gave up 182 rushing yards to a freshman back named Marcus Lattimore. Unfortunately, the very average Arkansas running game doesn’t have anyone like Lattimore. Georgia was outgained by more than 100 yards and held without a touchdown for the first time in three years. Still, expect the Bulldogs to score some points at home. If Mallett is on (he had 408 yards passing against Georgia last year), expect Arkansas to score a few more than the Dawgs between the hedges early Saturday afternoon.
Louisiana-Monroe 35, Arkansas State 32 — These Sun Belt Conference games often are hard to call. As we said, Arkansas State was a disappointment at Lafayette. Louisiana-Monroe, meanwhile, played relatively well against Arkansas in Little Rock. Look for a high-scoring, exciting game in Jonesboro. If Ryan Aplin has a big night, he could make us miss this prediction. We hope he does.
UCA 24, Murray State 14 — The Racers come into Conway with an 0-2 record after losses of 41-10 to Kent State and 30-17 to Southeast Missouri State. They will leave the state with an 0-3 record. The Bears are playing with a lot of confidence following the win over Eastern Illinois.
Ouachita 33, UAM 27 — This should be a marvelous game. Both teams have senior quarterbacks. We gave you Buisson’s stats for UAM. In Omaha, meanwhile, Ouachita’s Eli Cranor was 30 of 38 passing for 332 yards. Cranor, a senior from Russellville, is providing real leadership for the Tigers. Ouachita tailback Daniel McGee, a sophomore out of Fort Smith Southside, had 180 yards rushing. Nebraska-Omaha is a traditional Division II power, having posted 14 consecutive winning seasons while going to the playoffs in eight of those seasons. Ouachita raced out to a 38-10 lead before letting off the gas for a 38-23 victory. We told you what the Weevils did in Baton Rouge. UAM has defeated Ouachita in each of the past two seasons.
Henderson 21, Arkansas Tech 18 — Henderson was impressive in an opening victory against Southeastern Oklahoma and hung close for three quarters with No. 3 North Alabama before losing in Florence. The Reddies will have had two weeks to prepare for this game, and that will make the difference. Tech won at home against Lambuth to open the season and then lost a heartbreaker on the road last Thursday to Delta State, 27-25. Delta State hit a 48-yard field goal late for the win. This also should be an exciting game. You won’t go wrong by attending a game in either Arkadelphia (Ouachita-UAM) or Russellville (Henderson-Tech) on Saturday night.
North Alabama 42, Southern Arkansas 20 — The Muleriders looked horrible in a 20-0 loss at Harding to open the season. But they came back strong in a game against Texas State from Division I-AA, leading 17-3 over the Bobcats before losing 31-17 in San Marcos. We feel for SAU when looking at the schedule. After going to Florence this Saturday, the Muleriders must host No. 20 Valdosta State. SAU could easily start the season 0-4.
Harding 20, West Georgia 10 — Harding played pretty well in its 20-0 win over Southern Arkansas to open the season. The Bisons had last weekend off. This is the GSC Thursday night television game of the week. West Georgia, 1-9 a year ago, opened with a 10-7 loss to Wingate from the South Atlantic Conference and then defeated tiny Concordia from Selma, Ala., 24-20. A GSC school should defeat Concordia by far more than four points. Despite the long trip to Georgia, Harding wins.