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College football: Week 6

Well, what do you know!

Arkansas is in the Top 10.

Do the Razorbacks deserve to be ranked so highly?

Probably not.

But does Auburn deserve to be No. 15?

According to former Auburn coach Pat Dye, the Tigers don’t have any business being ranked at all with one of their youngest teams ever.

Next year or the year after? That’s another matter, Dye told the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday.

The reputation of the Southeastern Conference goes a long way these days. That’s what five consecutive national championships will do for you.

So, deserved or not, it will be No. 10 Arkansas hosting No. 15 Auburn in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday night with a national ESPN television audience looking on.

How quickly things can turn around in this game of college football. At halftime of last Saturday’s Southwest Classic, Razorback fans were in despair. Trailing Texas A&M by 18 points at the half, the Hogs seemed well on their way to a second consecutive defeat.

For the Arkansas faithful, visions of the Liberty Bowl and a cold December afternoon in Memphis danced in their heads. After that amazing comeback, those same fans are talking BCS again.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between — the Cotton Bowl or maybe even the Capital One Bowl.

At this point, it doesn’t appear that the Razorback defense is as good as we were led by some to believe it would be. Yes, there have been injuries. Yet there also have been critical breakdowns in the past two games.

Dye’s comments led us to believe he’s a fan of Bobby Petrino, who was almost the head coach at Auburn. Dye also was quick to note that you typically need a stout defense — along the lines of Alabama or LSU — to win SEC championships. This isn’t the Big East or Conference USA.

Arkansas’ defense won’t be confused right now with a stout defense. Texas A&M finished the day with 381 rushing yards (Arkansas had 71) and 30 first downs. The Aggies had 404 total yards in the first half. The Razorbacks will have to defend Saturday against an Arkansan, Little Rock Christian’s Michael Dyer, who carried the ball a career-high 41 times for 141 yards against South Carolina.

And then there’s that Malzahn guy, another Arkansas expatriate, calling the plays.

Auburn went to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC with its 16-13 victory at South Carolina. Auburn’s defense held Marcus Lattimore to 66 yards on 17 carries. It was South Carolina’s seventh consecutive loss to Auburn.

The defending national champions now face a stretch in which they must play Arkansas, Florida and LSU. Auburn might come back to earth with a thud.

We were 7-3 on picks last week, making us 33-10 for the season. On to Week 6:

Arkansas 38, Auburn 30 –If your defense puts you in a hole, you at least know you have an offense that can dig you out of that hole. You have a quarterback that just broke a school record with 510 passing yards. You have a receiver who had broken a school record that had stood since 1971 for receiving yards by halftime, for goodness sakes. We expect Auburn to score quite a few points Saturday night. We expect Arkansas to score more.

Arkansas State 24, Louisiana-Monroe 22 — The Red Wolves have had trouble winning on the road in recent years. They struggled again Saturday, scoring the winning touchdown against a woeful Western Kentucky team with just 43 seconds left in the game. Western Kentucky has now lost 18 consecutive home games. So much for the home field advantage. A 36-35 overtime loss at home last year to Western Kentucky helped cost ASU head coach Steve Roberts his job. So Hugh Freeze will take Saturday’s 26-22 victory that made ASU 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the Sun Belt Conference. Ryan Aplin was 37 of 49 passing against Western Kentucky for 396 yards and one touchdown. Now, the Red Wolves need to take the next step and beat Louisiana-Monroe in Monroe on Saturday night. The 1-3 Warhawks posted their only victory over a fairly weak Grambling squad. The losses have been by scores of 34-0 to Florida State, 38-17 to TCU and 45-17 to Iowa.

UCA 29, Nicholls State 27 — The Bears got back on the winning track in Conway on Saturday with a 38-28 win over a Stephen F. Austin team that’s now 1-4. Nathan Dick, who missed the previous week’s game at Arkansas State, was back in action and went 17 of 22 through the air for 247 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears moved to 2-3 and go on the road this week to take on a 1-4 Nicholls State team. Nicholls fell last Saturday to Texas State, 38-12. It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Colonels. This certainly appears to be a winnable game for the Bears.

Jackson State 20, UAPB 17 — The Golden Lions fell to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the SWAC when Alabama A&M scored the winning touchdown with 57 seconds left Saturday in Huntsville, Ala. Another road game awaits Monte Coleman’s squad as the Lions go to Jackson, Miss., to take on a Jackson State team that’s 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the SWAC following a 58-13 win last Thursday over Texas Southern. It’s homecoming in Jackson, giving Jackson State the distinct edge in this one.

Delta State 42, UAM 26 — The Boll Weevils shocked the small college football world Saturday with a 23-9 victory in Monticello over No. 4 Valdosta State. It was UAM’s first win over Valdosta since 1999. Coach Hud Jackson and the assistants he brought with him from UCA have the Weevils off to a 3-2 start. It’s a program on the rise. But Delta State, which made it to the national championship game a year ago, is up to No. 3 in this week’s American Football Coaches Assocation Division II poll after thrashing a Ouachita team that had come to Cleveland, Miss., last Saturday with a 3-0 record and a No. 25 national ranking. Delta just has too many horses for the Weevils to pull a second consecutive upset as they go to Cleveland for a Thursday night game. The Statesmen may well be back in the national title hunt.

Valdosta State 39, Ouachita 34 — It’s hard to imagine Valdosta State losing two consecutive games even though it’s Ouachita’s homecoming contest. The Tigers didn’t compete well in their 45-14 loss at Delta State. They’ve shown they can score points this year, but the Ouachita defense and kicking game remain suspect.

West Alabama 32, Southern Arkansas 16 — West Alabama took advantage of six Harding turnovers last week and rolled up 390 yards of offense against the Bisons. West Alabama improved to 4-1 on the season with the 31-17 victory. Meanwhile, Southern Arkansas gave up 42 consecutive points to the team that’s now No. 1 in the country, losing 42-14 to North Alabama in Magnolia. At 1-4, the Muleriders don’t seem to be a good bet to win on the road as West Alabama celebrates homecoming.

North Alabama 45, Arkansas Tech 28 — The Wonder Boys continue to struggle. They fell to 1-4 Saturday with a 42-16 loss to No. 19 Central Missouri on the road. The good news for the Wonder Boys is that they’re back home in Russellville this week. The bad news is that it’s No. 1 North Alabama coming to town.

Harding 31, West Georgia 28 — Henderson, which is open this week, found its offense in a 50-30 win at West Georgia. That loss dropped the Wolves to 2-2. Harding fell to 2-3 with its loss at West Alabama. We still think this Harding team has potential if the Bisons will quit fumbling so much while running their option offense.

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