It’s too bad the Razorbacks don’t have more open dates.
When you move up four places in the AP poll after a weekend when you didn’t play a game, that’s not bad. Not bad at all. Two more open dates and the Hogs would have been in a BCS bowl.
But they actually have to play the games for the next eight weekends.
Certainly, Alabama’s thrashing of Florida in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night made the Razorbacks look good by comparison. It’s difficult, however, to compare one game to the next. Each contest is unique, which is why college football captivates millions of people.
The Texas A&M schedule offered no tests the first three weeks of the season as the Aggies defeated Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech and Florida International by scores of 48-7, 48-16 and 27-20 respectively.
The conventional wisdom in Arkansas was that Oklahoma State would destroy the Aggies last Thursday night in Stillwater. It didn’t happen. The Cowboys were fortunate to escape with a 38-35 victory.
This isn’t a bad A&M team that Arkansas will face Saturday afternoon in Arlington. Arkansas should win. But the Razorbacks will have to do more than simply show up.
We were 6-1 on the picks last week. That makes the record 30-9 through the first five weeks of the season.
Let’s get to this week’s selections:
Arkansas 41, Texas A&M 30 — With a convincing victory in front of the ABC cameras Saturday afternoon, the Razorbacks could move back into the Top 10 and Ryan Mallett could move back into the Heisman Trophy race. A huge challenge awaits the following weekend with the trip to Auburn. As noted, however, the Razorbacks had best not look ahead. I liked what Jeff Long, the UA athletic director, told the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday. Long thinks it’s a positive thing that Arkansas can tell its recruits that it has three home stadiums — Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Signing talented high school athletes from Texas is important to the future of the Arkansas football program. Beating the Aggies in Arlington on a regular basis certainly can’t hurt when it comes to attracting those players’ attention.
Arkansas State 27, North Texas 24 — One of these days, this Red Wolf team is going to put together 60 minutes of decent football instead of 30 minutes. It might as well be Saturday night in Denton. ASU fell to 1-4 with its 34-24 loss to 2-2 Louisville before a crowd of more than 25,000 in Jonesboro on Saturday night. Louisville was the first team from a BCS conference to visit Jonesboro since 2001. The Cardinals had 393 first-half yards and took a 31-7 lead to the dressing room at halftime. ASU stormed back, cutting the margin to seven points at 31-24 with 8:08 left in the game. But Louisville iced the contest with a 46-yard field goal with 3:54 remaining. Coach Steve Roberts said it best: “We played a half. We’ve won a lot of halves, and that’s the disappointing thing.” North Texas is also 1-4. The Not So Mean Green has lost 35-10 to Clemson, 32-31 to Rice, 24-0 to Army and 28-27 to Louisiana-Lafayette. The lone victory was a 21-17 win against Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton.
UAPB 28, Prairie View A&M 20 — The Golden Lions lost their first two games to UTEP and Alabama State on the road but fought back for wins against Clark Atlanta in the Gateway Classic at St. Louis and against Southern University in Baton Rouge. Now, more than a month into the season, Monte Coleman’s team gets to play at home. It’s a Thursday night game and will be televised nationally by ESPNU. In the 41-27 victory over Southern, Golden Lion quarterback Josh Boudreaux completed 24 of 29 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Raymond Webber had 11 receptions for UAPB for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Prairie View opened the season with a 16-14 victory over Texas Southern. That game was followed by losses of 34-7 to Southern Mississippi, 18-15 to Alabama State and 24-17 to Grambling. Prairie View moved to 2-3 Saturday with a 34-13 victory over 0-5 Mississippi Valley State. Give the slight edge Thursday to a UAPB team that finally gets to play at home.
UCA 38, Northwestern State 17 — The 3-1 Bears had an off week to recover from their loss at Tulsa. They should be rested and ready for Saturday night’s game in Conway against what’s frankly a very bad team from Northwestern State of Louisiana. The lone Demon victory was a 17-14 win over Division II Tarleton State. The four losses have come by scores of 65-21 to Air Force, 19-7 to Samford, 49-24 to North Dakota and 24-7 to McNeese State. UCA should roll over the 1-4 Demons.
Ouachita 32, Arkansas Tech 31 — Ouachita came close last week to posting its first victory ever in Valdosta, Ga. The Tigers drove 82 yards against Valdosta State and scored with 1:10 left in the game on a fourth-and-goal from the one to narrow the margin to two points at 21-19. But a pass fell incomplete on a two-point conversion attempt that could have sent the game to overtime. The Tigers outgained Valdosta, which is No. 22 nationally in NCAA Division II this week, 444 yards to 332 yards. Ouachita senior quarterback Eli Cranor was 27 of 42 passing for 312 yards and one touchdown. This week, Cranor plays in his hometown of Russellville against an Arkansas Tech team that fell 28-0 to No. 3 North Alabama. Terry Bowden’s North Alabama team is 5-0 and hasn’t allowed a score in 10 quarters. North Alabama has now won 27 consecutive games against Arkansas schools. The winner of the Tech-Ouachita game should go on to have a decent season.
Delta State 40, UAM 24 — The Boll Weevils obviously aren’t the same team without Scott Buisson. The senior quarterback became the state’s all-time total yardage leader in a loss to Tech. In the process, he broke a finger and had to have a pin inserted. He will miss three to four games. Without Buisson, the Weevils showed up flat in Arkadelphia last Saturday afternoon. A good Henderson team got on a roll and never slowed down, winning 47-0. The 2-3 Boll Weevils won’t be able to hang with a Delta State team that’s 4-1, coming off a 41-37 victory over West Alabama and ranked No. 13 nationally in Division II.
West Alabama 29, Harding 22 — This Harding team is 2-2 and could easily be 4-0, having experienced close road losses at West Georgia and Ouachita. The Bisons looked good Saturday in a 27-0 victory over a Lambuth team that had earlier defeated West Alabama. Harding had 238 yards of rushing from its new option offense while holding Lambuth to 17 yards of offense. West Alabama was No. 15 prior to the loss to Delta State. It dropped out of the Top 25 following that defeat. The Tigers are now 3-2. This should be a fun game Saturday night in Searcy.
Henderson 34, Southern Arkansas 17 — Henderson is 3-2 but played well in losses to nationally ranked North Alabama and Delta State. The Reddies seem to be getting better by the week. In the victory over UAM, Henderson senior quarterback Nick Hardesty was 18 of 28 passing for 415 yards and three touchdowns, including an 87-yard touchdown pass to Chris Evering that was the second longest pass play in school history. Henderson had 550 yards of offense and held the Weevils to 127. Southern Arkansas fell to 0-5 with a 31-17 loss last Saturday to 3-2 West Georgia on the road.