I was thinking about Jack Crowe early Saturday afternoon.
I was keeping an eye on a television monitor during a late lunch in west Little Rock, and it appeared that Jacksonville State was about to upset Auburn on the Plains.
Jacksonville State, you see, was Crowe’s last stop as a head coach. He’s no longer there, but he was on my mind as Auburn was forced to score in the final minute of play just to get the game to overtime. The two schools, which are only 108 miles apart, were playing for the first time.
Crowe was still the coach back on Labor Day weekend of 2010 when Jacksonville State went to Oxford, Miss., and stunned Ole Miss with a two-point conversion in the second overtime for a 49-48 win over a Rebel team that had led 31-10 at the half.
And, of course, it was Labor Day weekend in 1992 when Crowe’s University of Arkansas team fell to the Citadel. Crowe was axed the next day by Frank Broyles, the UA athletic director. I remember getting into my father’s pickup following a successful dove hunt in a field across the Ouachita River from Arkadelphia and being stunned when we turned on the radio and learned that Arkansas was trailing late.
I was the political editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette at the time. The next day, I was in Hot Springs to cover the welcome-home rally the city was throwing for Gov. Bill Clinton. It already was becoming evident that Clinton was going to be elected the next president of the United States. I was certain my story from Hot Springs would be at the top of the front page the next morning. That was not to be the case. When I called the newspaper to ask how much room I had for the next day’s story, I was told: “Keep it tight. Frank Broyles just fired Jack Crowe.”
It was interesting that I was thinking about Crowe last Saturday afternoon since the Razorbacks would lose a game later in the day that was Citadelesque in nature.
I knew there were problems for the Hogs at about 6 p.m. when I glanced down at my phone while preparing for the broadcast of Ouachita’s home game against Southeastern Oklahoma. I noticed that numerous people were posting messages that began: “Holy Toledo!”
What was most depressing in the hours that followed was seeing the social media crowd blame the loss on a stadium rather than a lack of preparation and a lack of execution.
I hate excuses.
It was the stadium’s fault?
Arkansas fans have always been good at whining about officiating, but blaming a stadium for a loss was a new one for me.
Here are a few of the lowlights:
— Toledo limited Arkansas to three points on three second-half drives that went inside the 10.
— Toledo broke Arkansas’ streak of having held seven consecutive opponents scoreless in the first quarter.
— It was Toledo’s first victory ever over a ranked team on the road and its first victory against a Southeastern Conference team.
— The Razorbacks are 1-5 in Little Rock since 2012.
— It was Bret Bielmea’s first nonconference home loss in 10 seasons as a head coach.
Obviously, I missed my pick for that game. But the record was still 8-2 in Week 2, making the Southern Fried blog 18-2 for the season.
Let’s get to the picks for Week 3:
Arkansas 40, Texas Tech 35 — The Red Raiders can score a lot of points quickly, and you can expect them to put points on the board again in Fayetteville on Saturday. Last Saturday, Patrick Mahomes threw for four touchdowns and rushed for a couple of more as Tech cruised past UTEP, 69-20. Mahomes, just a sophomore, was 18 of 33 passing for 361 yards. Last year, Tech was forced to come from behind to beat the Miners, 30-26, in El Paso. This appears to be a much better Tech team than the 2014 edition. The Red Raiders struggled on defense in a 59-45 victory over Sam Houston State but improved between the first and second weeks of the season. Tech gave up 637 yards against Sam Houston and 414 yards against UTEP. Look for a high-scoring game in which both teams gain plenty of yardage. Arkansas wins by doing something it was unable to do last week — scoring touchdowns at the end of drives.
Arkansas State 37, Missouri State 24 — After a thrashing to start the season at the hands of USC, Arkansas State came home last Saturday and gave Missouri all it could handle before losing, 27-20, in front of almost 30,000 people at Jonesboro. The Red Wolves actually led at the half of that game, 17-10. ASU was held to 37 yards in the second half and just 217 yards for the game. This is the first time since 2010 that an ASU team has started the season 0-2. The Red Wolves should right the ship this week against a Missouri State team that lost 63-7 to Memphis to start the season (this might be the best football team at Memphis in a long time) before edging Chadron State by a score of 21-13 last Saturday in Springfield.
Texas Southern 17, UAPB 14 — South Carolina State thumped UAPB, 35-7, in the season opener on ESPN. The Golden Lions came home from that game in Orlando ready to feast on an NCAA Division II team, Morehouse College, but the score was tied 7-7 at the end of regulation. UAPB finally prevailed in three overtimes, 29-27. Texas Southern is 1-1, having lost 38-11 in the Labor Day Classic at Houston to Prairie View A&M before coming home to down tiny Bacone College, 63-0, in the season’s second game. I will simply end with the same sentence I ended with last week: You get the feeling that this is going to be one of those years when nothing comes easily for the Golden Lions.
Ouachita 39, Southwestern Oklahoma 32 — The defending Great American Conference champions from Ouachita have now won 12 consecutive regular-season games and are 19-3 in their past 22 regular-season games. Ouachita was cruising at home in Arkadelphia last week against Southeastern Oklahoma with a 22-point lead and the ball in the Savage Storm red zone with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Then a nightmare scenario of events (a fumble returned for a touchdown, two onside kicks recovered by Southeastern, breakdowns in the Ouachita secondary) almost caused the Tigers to lose. They hung on, 42-40, to go to 2-0. It’s the longest road trip of the season this week as Ouachita takes on a Southwestern Oklahoma team that is improved from last year. Southwestern gave Southern Arkansas all it could handle in Magnolia in the season opener before falling by four points, 28-24. Last Saturday, the Bulldogs hung half a hundred on UAM to win by 30 points, 50-20. This should be a close, high-scoring game.
Southern Arkansas 28, Harding 27 — As we’ve been saying each week, this might be Bill Keopple’s best team yet at Southern Arkansas. The Muleriders followed up the win against Southwestern Oklahoma with a 49-14 victory at Northwestern Oklahoma. Seven players scored for the Muleriders. Southern Arkansas outgained Northwestern by more than 300 yards (595-210). Harding struggled in its season opener, beating Oklahoma Baptist in overtime, and then got on track last week with a 42-0 victory over a woeful Southern Nazarene team that has now lost 24 consecutive games. Harding is nationally ranked, but we’ll go with the home team in an upset.
Arkansas Tech 42, UAM 25 — The Wonder Boys have been impressive in their first two games. A 62-14 victory over Southern Nazarene to start the season was followed with a 50-7 victory over Oklahoma Baptist. That’s 112 points in eight quarters if you’re counting. Tech scored on each of its first seven drives against Oklahoma Baptist and held the conference’s newest member to just 160 yards of offense. The Wonder Boys had 460 yards rushing against Southern Nazarene and 219 yards rushing against Oklahoma Baptist. UAM has struggled in losses of 52-31 to Northwestern Oklahoma and 50-20 to Southwestern Oklahoma. So Tech has scored 112 points in its first two games, and UAM has given up 102 points. You can figure out the rest.
Henderson 38, Northwestern Oklahoma 19 — A good East Central Oklahoma team came into Arkadelphia on Thursday of last week and shocked the Reddies, 35-28. So it will be a Henderson team with plenty of question marks that makes the long trip to Alva, Okla., to take on a Northwestern Oklahoma team that started the 2015 season with a win over UAM and then fell hard to Southern Arkansas. Both teams are 1-1, but don’t let that fool you. Henderson has far more talent.