After picking nine games last week, I realized that I had predicted the Arkansas team to win eight of those contests.
I love this state, but I’m not a homer. My record is important to me. Each week, I select the teams I think will win, not necessarily the teams I want to win. And I thought every Arkansas team last week would win with the exception of UAPB.
As it turned out, the record was 7-2.
Arkansas teams in the Great American Conference went 5-0 against opponents from Oklahoma, just as had been predicted.
UCA edged Missouri State in Springfield, just as had been predicted. The pick here was UCA winning 21-20. It was 17-13.
UAPB lost by less than a touchdown to Alcorn State, just as had been predicted.
In the end, the two FBS teams from Arkansas were the ones that didn’t come through.
Had the Razorbacks prevented that last Rutgers touchdown, the Southern Fried prediction of 24-22 in favor of Arkansas would have been almost on the money.
It was, of course, not to be.
Who could have guessed a few years back that Arkansas would go “0 for Rutgers” during a two-year period?
Now the Hogs enter that four-game stretch of Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. This isn’t going to be fun for the Razorback true believers.
Just as was the case last year in Fayetteville, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova picked Arkansas apart. This time, he completed 22 of his 43 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. In two games against the Razorbacks, Nova has passed for 743 yards and eight touchdowns. In the fourth quarter Saturday, he was seven of 13 for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
Nova has just four 300-yard passing games in his career, and half of them have come against the Razorbacks.
Maybe it’s a good thing that Arkansas will replace Rutgers with Texas Tech the next two years.
The bigger story, though, was the way Arkansas’ offensive line was whipped down the stretch. That poor performance prevented the Hogs from having the type of ball-control offense that Bret Bielema prefers. The goal was to limit Nova’s time on the field. Because of the futile effort of its offensive line, Arkansas was unable to achieve that goal. The Razorbacks had just three yards rushing on six carries in the fourth quarter. The total fourth-quarter yardage was 35.
The Alex Collins-Jonathan Williams streak of 100-yard games came to a screeching halt.
Collins came in averaging 139 yards a game. He had 63 against Rutgers.
Williams came in averaging 131 yards a game. He had 25 against Rutgers.
The biggest egg of the weekend was laid by Arkansas State. The Red Wolves were just awful in a 31-7 loss to Memphis, a game that most people had picked ASU to win.
It was already 24-7 in favor of the Tigers at halftime as Memphis won its first game of the season.
ASU is 2-2 with a trip to Missouri looming this weekend. Even the Red Wolves’ earlier Sun Belt Conference win over Troy now looks less impressive considering the Trojans’ 62-7 loss last Saturday to a mediocre Mississippi State team.
It was ASU’s most lopsided loss in the series against Memphis since 1997. The Red Wolves had just 255 yards of offense, and quarterback Adam Kennedy was sacked seven times. Memphis, meanwhile, had 505 yards of offense with 329 yards of that coming on the ground.
Last week’s 7-2 prediction performance made the record 25-6 for the year.
On to the picks for Week 5:
Texas A&M 41, Arkansas 24 — The word is that Johnny Manziel doesn’t accept checks or credit cards. So bring cash to Fayetteville on Saturday if you want an autograph. The 3-1 Aggies warmed up for their game in Arkansas with a 42-13 win over SMU. Manziel had 244 yards passing with one touchdown in that game. He ran for 102 yards with two more touchdowns. I’ll say this for the Arkansas defense: It plays hard. But effort alone won’t be enough against Manziel & Co.
Missouri 45, Arkansas State 30 — Missouri is off to a 3-0 start after wins of 58-14 over Murray State, 38-23 over Toledo and 45-28 over Indiana. The record will be 4-0 unless the Red Wolves play far, far better than they played at Memphis. In Missouri’s victory over Indiana, James Franklin threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers won in Bloomington for the first time since 1953. Franklin finished 32 of 47 passing. Dorial Green-Beckham (you’ll remember when the Hog fans thought ol’ DGB was headed to Fayetteville) had eight catches for 105 yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately, ASU will counter with a defense that has allowed almost 1,200 yards in the previous two games.
Southwestern Oklahoma 25, UAM 21 — A week after ending an 11-game losing streak, UAM made it two victories in a row with a 22-20 decision in Monticello over a winless Northwestern Oklahoma squad. The task will be much tougher this week against Southwestern Oklahoma in Weatherford. Southwestern upset Harding to begin the season and then posted a victory at Arkansas Tech. The first loss of the season came Saturday in Magnolia against a very good Southern Arkansas team. The Boll Weevils, however, are much improved over the 1-10 team of a year ago.
Nicholls State 37, Arkansas Tech 27 — FCS schools often play FBS schools to earn a guaranteed check. That’s just what Nicholls State did in the season opener when it went to Oregon and absorbed a 66-3 beating. Since then, Nicholls has defeated Western Michigan by a score of 27-23, lost to Louisiana-Lafayette by a score of 70-7 and defeated Langston by a score of 42-22. Just as Nicholls went to Oregon to make money, some Division II teams go to FCS schools to earn a few bucks. That’s why Arkansas Tech is heading to far south Louisiana this weekend. Under new coach Raymond Monica, the Wonder Boys are off to a 2-1 start with wins over Northwestern Oklahoma and Southern Nazarene sandwiched around a loss to Southwestern Oklahoma. In the 49-7 victory last Saturday at Southern Nazarene, Tech senior Ketrich Harmon rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first Wonder Boy to rush for more than 100 yards in a game in five years. The Wonder Boys had 277 yards rushing, their highest total in almost four years. For some reason, I expect Tech to keep this game close.
Harding 50, Southern Nazarene 28 — Southern Nazarene is winless and should remain that way following a visit to Searcy on Saturday. After being upset by Southwestern Oklahoma in the opener, Harding bounced back with an easy victory over Northwestern Oklahoma. The Bisons have had two weeks to prepare for this game. The two new members of the GAC — Northwestern and Southern Nazarene — are struggling. The real challenges for the Bisons lie ahead.
Ouachita 33, Southeastern Oklahoma 32 — The Tigers finally play their home opener on the final weekend of September. Ouachita, the only college program in the state with five consecutive winning seasons, is off to a 2-0 start with road victories over Southern Nazarene and East Central Oklahoma. Southeastern outscored Southern Arkansas, 56-50, in the season opener and then was upset by UAM. In the third game of the season, Southeastern gave No. 8 Henderson its first real test as the Reddies trailed 28-24 at the end of the third quarter. Henderson wound up winning by a score of 44-35, but Southeastern has shown it can score. Saturday night’s game in Arkadelphia may be the best of the weekend in the GAC.
Henderson 50, East Central Oklahoma 30 — The Reddies were on cruise control in scoring 157 points in the first eight quarters of the season with victories over Southern Nazarene and McKendree. Things were much tougher in Durant, Okla., last Saturday night as the Henderson defense struggled. On offense, Reddie quarterback Kevin Rodgers completed 27 of 50 passes for 384 yards and one touchdown. East Central, which comes in with a 1-2 record, will score some points Saturday afternoon in Arkadelphia. The Reddies, who deserve their Top 10 spot in Division II, will score a lot more.
Southern Arkansas 51, Northwestern Oklahoma 28 — Southern Arkansas has bounced back from that season-opening loss to Southeastern Oklahoma with solid victories over decent East Central Oklahoma and Southwestern Oklahoma teams. New GAC addition Northwestern Oklahoma shouldn’t prove too tough a challenge despite the long road trip for the Muleriders. In last Saturday’s 20-17 Mulerider victory over Southwestern Oklahoma, SAU quarterback Tyler Sykora completed 23 of 40 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns. He likely will top 400 yards passing this week.