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College football — Week 5

Congratulations to Scott Buisson, the talented senior quarterback at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

In a losing cause Saturday night (a 30-25 loss to Arkansas Tech), Buisson became the state’s all-time total offense leader. He accomplished that feat despite missing two possessions in the second half due to a broken finger on his throwing hand.

Now, it appears Buisson will miss several weeks of his senior season.

Against Tech, Buisson had 249 yards of total offense. He only needed 206 yards to break the record of former UCA quarterback Nathan Brown, who had 10,993 yards from 2005-08. Buisson now has 11,037 yards of offense in his remarkable career.

Buisson also broke the UAM record for career touchdown passes. He has thrown 63 TD passes in his career, breaking the record of 61 that Kevin McCarn set from 1997-2000.

The six Arkansas schools in the Gulf South Conference — Ouachita, Henderson, UAM, Tech, Harding and Southern Arkansas — play a quality brand of college football. I wish more Arkansans would take advantage of the opportunity to see great NCAA Division II games, especially on weekends such as this one when both Arkansas and UCA have open dates.

Witness the fact that UAM has handily defeated teams from the NCAA Division I-AA SWAC for three consecutive seasons. The Boll Weevils defeated Southern University, 31-7, in Baton Rouge in a season when they’re just 1-2 so far against GSC teams. The GSC is to Division II what the SEC is to Division I. Get out and see some games if you get a chance. Ticket prices are a bargain, the parking is easy and the entertainment value is high.

Unfortunately, the six Arkansas schools are receiving (due to a combination of staff changes and a reduction in space) the least football coverage from the statewide newspaper that I can recall in the 40 years I’ve been reading Little Rock newspapers. It’s a shame.

I went 6-2 last week, making the record 24-8 for the year. Don’t mortgage the house just yet on these picks.

Louisville 28, Arkansas State 24 — Picking ASU games is maddening because the Red Wolves are so darn inconsistent. The bad news is that they haven’t been consistently good since they were a Division I-AA school coached by Larry Lacewell. The good news is that under Steve Roberts’ leadership, they haven’t been as consistently bad as they were under some of Lacewell’s successors. Since I’m picking Louisville to win in Jonesboro on Saturday night, you can probably safely bet that ASU will pull off the upset. The 1-3 Red Wolves lost a 35-28 heartbreaker to Troy on Saturday. Ryan Aplin threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Allen Muse with just 50 seconds left, and the extra point put the Red Wolves up by one, 28-27. But ASU is becoming known for losing games in the final minute. This time it happened when Troy’s Corey Robinson threw a 17-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining. Louisville lost its opener by a score of 23-16 to a decent Kentucky team, beat Eastern Kentucky by a score of 23-13 and then fell at Oregon State by a score of 35-28. The Cardinals are in their first year under head coach Charlie Strong, the Batesville native who graduated from UCA in 1982 and worked on his master’s degree at Henderson a year later. The late Sporty Carpenter, the legendary head coach at Henderson, was known for finding jobs for people. He was able to get Strong a job as a graduate assistant at Florida. That’s where Strong spent most of his career as an assistant between stops at Southern Illinois, Notre Dame and South Carolina.

UAPB 22, Southern 19 — The Golden Lions got their first win of the season with a 35-19 victory over Clark-Atlanta before a crowd of 22,781 at the Gateway Classic in the Edward Jones Dome at St. Louis. Quarterback Josh Boudreaux was 16 of 24 passing for 212 yards for the 1-2 Golden Lions. If UAM can rout Southern in Baton Rouge, surely UAPB can leave town with a victory. The Jaguars also are 1-2. They began the season with a win over Delaware State in nationally televised game from Orlando. That has been followed by losses to UAM and Alabama A&M.

Henderson 35, UAM 30 — These are two good football teams even though both are 2-2. UAM has wins over Ouachita and Southern along with losses to Arkansas Tech nationally ranked West Alabama. Henderson has defeated Southeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas Tech while losing to two nationally ranked teams, No. 3 North Alabama and No. 19 Delta State. If Buisson were well, I would probably go with the Boll Weevils. Since he’s hurt, I’ll pick the Reddies to win at home. Henderson had 466 yards of offense in its 41-37 loss to Delta State last weekend. Reddie senior quarterback Nick Hardesty was 21 of 36 passing for 211 yards in that game.

North Alabama 42, Arkansas Tech 28 — It appears that Terry Bowden’s Lions, with 26 Division I transfers, are simply in another league. At least the 2-2 Wonder Boys have found a quarterback. In his first start, freshman quarterback Rico Keller rushed for 209 yards and passed for 78 yards in the win over UAM.

Valdosta State 35, Ouachita 32 — No one doubts that 3-1 Ouachita can score points. The Tigers, who are receiving votes for the Top 25, have scored 176 points in four games. But the defense, which returned nine starters from last year, has been a disappointment. It has given up 37 and 34 points the past two weeks. Ouachita came from 15 down in the first half and 13 down in the second half to defeat Harding, 37-34, last Saturday in Arkadelphia. Ouachita senior quarterback Eli Cranor completed 24 of 40 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns in that game. This is the homecoming game for the 3-1 Blazers, who defeated the 0-4 Muleriders of Southern Arkansas by a score of 27-0 last week. The defense scored three touchdowns for Valdosta in that game, returning two fumbles and one interception for touchdowns. This could be a high-scoring affair.

Lambuth 30, Harding 27 — This game intrigues me. Harding is 1-2 but could easily be 3-0, having lost close road games at West Georgia and Ouachita. Lambuth is not your typical NAIA school. It’s known for knocking off NCAA Division II teams. Lambuth is 2-2. The victories were against Bill Curry’s first-year program at Georgia State in Atlanta and against West Alabama, which is No. 15 in this week’s Division II poll.  The losses were to Arkansas Tech and North Alabama.

West Georgia 21, Southern Arkansas 17 — The Muleriders continue to struggle. They are 0-4 after losses to Harding, Texas State, North Alabama and Valdosta State. This week, they must make the long trip to the University of West Georgia in Carrollton. West Georgia is not nearly as good as either North Alabama or Valdosta State even though the school now has perhaps the best stadium in all of Division II. The Wolves are 2-2, having lost to Wingate and North Alabama while defeating Concordia and Harding. The Muleriders have a chance Saturday. I’ll give West Georgia the slight edge since the Wolves are home and it’s homecoming.

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