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College football: Week 3

Another easy win for the Hogs in Week 2.

An amazing performance by Arkansas State as the Red Wolves rout Memphis before almost 30,000 spectators in Jonesboro.

A game in which UCA falls just short in its bid to upset Louisiana Tech at Ruston.

A contest in Pine Bluff in which UAPB bounces back from its embarrassing loss to NAIA Langston to win the Golden Lions’ SWAC opener.

It was an interesting Week 2 for this state’s teams.

We went 6-3 on the week, making us 10-5 on the season.

The games we missed were Henderson-Harding, Southern Arkansas-Southwestern Oklahoma and UAPB-Alcorn State.

Harding’s 63-14 victory in Week 1 over Southern Arkansas had been impressive, but the Bisons killed themselves with turnovers in a loss to Henderson at Searcy. The Reddies converted four Bison fumbles into 28 points and won 35-21 despite managing only 189 total yards, including 16 rushing yards. Henderson seems poised to contend for the first Great American Conference championship if it can get its offense rolling. Last year’s star quarterback, Nick Hardesty, is sorely missed.

Given the margin of the loss in Week 1 to Harding, there just didn’t seem to be a way for Southern Arkansas to go on the road and defeat a 1-0 Southwestern Oklahoma team. But the Muleriders did just that, 31-22. Give them credit for shaking off what had been the school’s worst defeat in Magnolia since 1917.

We readily admitted that we find it impossible to predict UAPB’s SWAC games. This much is evident: The SWAC is a mere shadow of its former self with its members now routinely losing nonconference games, often to smaller schools. Once the conference season begins, few teams have any consistency, a prognosticator’s nightmare.

Oh well. On to Week 3.

Arkansas 48, Troy 20 — This is a better opponent than the Razorbacks’ first two foes, which isn’t saying much given the lack of competition Arkansas faced against Missouri State in Fayetteville and New Mexico in Little Rock. Troy, traditionally one of the better teams in the Sun Belt Conference, lost its opener to Clemson, 43-19. The Trojans led that game, 16-13, at halftime. Corey Robinson was 24 of 42 passing for 258 yards against Clemson. Troy has had two weeks to prepare for this game. It won’t matter. Arkansas will win going away, but the Hogs at least will have to break a sweat Saturday night in Fayetteville. We’ll see if they can find a running game prior to the visit to Tuscaloosa a week later.

Virginia Tech 41, Arkansas State 27 — What a night in Jonesboro. ASU picked up its first victory of the Hugh Freeze era with a 47-3 win over a Memphis team that may be the worst football squad in that school’s history (which isn’t exactly glorious when it comes to football). Virginia Tech is ranked No. 13 and brings a 2-0 record into Saturday afternoon’s game at Blacksburg. The Hokies have won their three previous games against Arkansas State by scores of 63-7 in 2002, 50-0 in 1997 and 34-7 in 1994. Expect the Red Wolves to hang around a bit longer this time.

UCA 30, Sam Houston State 28 –It’s the first conference game of the year in the Southland Conference and the earliest Southland opener since 1999. UCA opened its season by beating Henderson at home and then saw its upset bid at Louisiana Tech fall just short in overtime. Sam Houston hasn’t played since a 20-6 win over Western Illinois back on Sept. 1. Despite 16 days to prepare, the Bearkats will lose at home to the talented visitors from Conway. Look for Nathan Dick to have a big night passing for the Bears.

UAPB 21, Prairie View A&M 19 — Who knows? I’m throwing a dart against the wall here. UAPB loses to NAIA Langston in Week 1 at War Memorial Stadium and then comes back to defeat Alcorn State a week later. Meanwhile, Prairie View is demolished in Orlando, 63-14, by Bethune-Cookman on Labor Day weekend and then raillies from 14 ponts down in the fourth quarter to defeat Texas Southern in Houston, 37-34. Like I said, no rhyme, no reason, no consistency.

Harding 59, Shepherd Technical 7 — This is pretty much a scrimmage for the Bisons, but Harding is counting Thursday night’s contest in Searcy as a varsity game. What’s Shepherd Technical? It used to be something called Shepherd Film Academy in Memphis. The school fields an independent team that plays junior colleges, NCAA Division III teams and, in the case of Harding, a Division II team. Shepherd lost its first game, 23-0, to Lon Morris, a junior college that fell to Arkansas Baptist in Little Rock last Saturday.

Ouachita 28, UAM 22 — Ouachita is 1-0 after a 31-18 win over East Central Oklahoma last Saturday night in Arkadelphia. Tiger quarterback Casey Cooper was 19 of 35 passing for 334 yards and two touchdowns. But the Ouachita secondary struggled, giving up 348 yards through the air. UAM is 2-0 in the Hud Jackson era, upsetting Arkansas Tech in Week 1 and shutting out hapless Texas College, 41-0, last week. UAM beat Ouachita last year in Arkadelphia, 37-31. Even though Ouachita is the only college program in the state to have posted three consecutive winning seasons, the Tigers fell to the Boll Weevils in all three of those seasons. Ouachita leads the series, 37-32-1. The two schools play at old Memorial Stadium in El Dorado in the third annual Boomtown Classic, and it may turn out to be the best college game in the state this weekend.

Delta State 39, Arkansas Tech 27 — Delta State is ranked 10th nationally in NCAA Division II. The Statesmen won their opener over Elizabeth City State in overtime, 28-21; lost the second game, 24-23, to Northwestern State of Louisiana; and defeated Fort Valley State in their third game, 27-7. Tech bounced back from its fourth-quarter collapse against UAM to beat Southwest Baptist on the road in Bolivar, Mo., 31-20. Tech scored 24 of its points in the first half as quarterback Preston Conder threw three touchdown passes.

Southeastern Oklahoma 42, Southern Arkansas 32 — Southeastern Oklahoma opened its season last Saturday with a 30-23 win over Central Oklahoma. Southeastern had a balanced attack with 257 yards rushing and 237 yards passing. Southern Arkansas evened its record at 1-1 by upsetting Southwestern Oklahoma, 31-22. The Muleriders had a strong rushing attack led by Mark Johnson. Southern Arkansas has already equaled its win total of last season.

Henderson 20, Southwestern Oklahoma 15 — Southwestern showed a lot of weaknesses in its loss to Southern Arkansas. Henderson, however, can’t expect to have two fumble recoveries for touchdowns as it did in the first half against Harding. The Bisons led that game in total offense, 357-189. Still, due to a stout Henderson defense, we’ll give the Reddies the upper hand in Arkadelphia as the two teams play on the new artificial turf at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium.

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