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College football: Week 5

Forget what I said about seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

And, yes, you already know that I’m about to quote Lou Holtz here since that light was indeed an oncoming train.

Has the University of Arkansas football program finally hit rock bottom?

Like the deepest part of the Pacific, we no longer know exactly where the bottom is.

It it wasn’t “San Jose State 31, Arkansas 24,” I hate to think where it was.

That was ugly.

Nick Starkel throwing five interceptions was ugly.

The Spartans had gained 382 yards against Northern Colorado and 348 yards against Tulsa. Against Arkansas, they had 503 yards.

That also was ugly.

San Jose State passed for 402 yards.

That was ugly, too.

Now comes the trip to Arlington (Razorback fans lost enthusiasm for this “classic” years ago) to take on Texas A&M.

I was 5-3 on the picks last week with misses on Arkansas (who didn’t?), UAPB (which scored on the final play of the game) and UAM.

That makes the season record 22-6.

Here are the picks for this Saturday’s games:

Texas A&M 40, Arkansas 27 — The Aggies have the same record as the Razorbacks at 2-2. The difference is that the Texas A&M losses were to Top 10 teams (Clemson and Auburn) rather than Ole Miss and San Jose State. A&M started the season with a 41-7 victory over Texas State, lost 24-10 to Clemson, beat Lamar 62-3 and then lost 28-20 to Auburn. The Aggies were 9-4 a year ago in their first season under head coach Jimbo Fisher. Texas A&M is 7-0 against Arkansas in SEC games, including three victories in overtime. It would be a miracle for this Arkansas team to get it to overtime.

Troy 29, Arkansas State 25 — ASU struggled in Jonesboro last Saturday night against an FCS opponent but still came away with a 41-28 victory over Southern Illinois. Head coach Blake Anderson was on the sidelines at home for the first time this season. Both the Red Wolves and the Salukis are now 2-2. ASU quarterback Logan Bonner was sacked five times in the first half of that game. Bonner, however, completed 17 of his 31 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns. ASU must now make the trip to Alabama for the Sun Belt Conference opener against Troy. The Trojans are 2-1 with a 43-14 victory over Campbell and a 35-7 victory over Akron sandwiching a 47-42 loss to Southern Mississippi. The slight advantage goes to the home team in this one, especially considering all of the injuries that are dogging the Red Wolves this week.

Southern University 21, UAPB 20 — I should know better than to pick against the Golden Lions. They seem to have some magic this year. UAPB scored on a 17-yard pass as time expired in Nashville last Saturday to shock Tennessee State by a final score of 37-31. How much progress has this program made? Consider the fact that UAPB had been outscored 84-13 and outgained 924-448 in its two previous games against Tennessee State. The Golden Lions, who finished the contest with 519 yards of offense, have now won three consecutive games to go to 3-1. That’s more games than UAPB won last year when the Golden Lions went 2-9 in their first season under head coach Cedric Thomas. The current UAPB head man was an assistant coach at Alcorn State for six years before returning to take over his alma mater. Southern has lost 34-28 to McNeese, 55-24 to Memphis and 27-21 to Florida A&M. The one victory was by a final score of 61-0 over Edward Waters. This is certainly a winnable game for UAPB, but the Golden Lions seem due for a letdown.

Harding 24, Henderson 14 — This is the game of the week in the Great American Conference. Henderson, which fell to 5-6 a year ago, seems to be getting back to form with victories over Oklahoma Baptist, Southern Nazarene and Arkansas Tech to start the season. After losing 16-14 to Ouachita to begin the 2019 campaign, Harding hasn’t allowed another point. The defense has been spectacular in shutout victories over UAM and Southern Arkansas. In last Saturday’s 31-0 thrashing of SAU in Magnolia, the Harding defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a span of 40 seconds. Since the GAC began play in 2011, Henderson has won three conference championships and Harding has won one. Ouachita has won the other four.

Ouachita 26, Southwestern Oklahoma 11 — Saturday night’s 31-11 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia marked the 19th consecutive conference victory for Ouachita. The Tigers led 21-0 at the half. Sophomore quarterback Brayden Brazeal out of England, who leads the nation in pass completion percentage, was 20 of 22 through the air for 179 yards. But you should expect the Tigers to focus on the running game Saturday afternoon in Weatherford, Okla., against a team that gave up 348 yards on the ground in a 41-9 loss to UAM. Southwestern won its first two games against Oklahoma schools, but reality always sets in once it begins playing the tougher Arkansas members of the GAC.

Southern Arkansas 19, Arkansas Tech 13 — The Muleriders started the season with victories over a weak Southern Nazarene team and a so-so Oklahoma Baptist squad (the win came on a long field goal on the final play) before crashing back to earth while being routed at home by Harding. Southern Arkansas finished the season 8-4 a year ago but lost the top players off that team. Still, the 2-1 Muleriders should have enough talent to down an 0-3 Arkansas Tech squad that has lost to UAM, Ouachita and Henderson in its first season under head coach Kyle Shipp.

UAM 35, Northwestern Oklahoma 33 — The Boll Weevils make the trip to Alva, Okla., to take on a 1-2 Northwestern Oklahoma squad. UAM has sandwiched victories over Arkansas Tech and Southwestern Oklahoma around a 24-0 loss to Harding. Head coach Hud Jackson is finally turning the UAM program around. The Boll Weevils were 6-6 last season, including a Division II bowl appearance. A win on the road Saturday and a 3-1 start would further enhance their credibility.

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