We stated last week that it’s a shame the Arkansas Razorbacks don’t have more open dates.
After all, they jumped four spots in the AP poll when they didn’t play a game.
Last weekend, they played. They won. And they dropped a spot in the poll.
We can’t argue, though. This Razorback offense, for which expectations were so high coming into the season, is simply not clicking in the second halves of games (with the exception of that last drive against Georgia).
Arkansas scored on its first possession for a third consecutive game in the 24-17 victory over Texas A&M. But also for a third consecutive game, the Arkansas offense struggled in the fourth quarter. The Razorbacks are just two of 10 on third down in the fourth quarter during the past three games. That average won’t get it done at Auburn on Saturday. The defense, which was the leading area of concern coming into the season, played well at Cowboys Stadium. It recovered three fumbles and came up with one interception. Coming into the game, Arkansas had only recovered one fumble all season.
We were 6-2 on our picks last week. UAPB and UCA let us down. We had picked both to win. We’ll pick against both of them this week, which likely will ensure victories for the Golden Lions and the Bears.
Arkansas and Arkansas State came through with victories in the Metroplex, just as we had predicted they would. And we were perfect on our picks for the Gulf South Conference schools. The season record is 36-11.
Let’s move to this weekend’s games:
Arkansas 30, Auburn 28 — We’ll go with the Hogs on the road against a very good Auburn team, but there’s not a high degree of confidence in this pick. Arkansas’ offense must become more consistent in order to do better than 9-3 or 8-4 this season. The Razorbacks were penalized 13 times against Texas A&M for 108 yards. Arkansas had five false start penalties. In fact, every starting lineman except one was called for a false start. Yes, Ryan Mallett moved into sixth place on the school’s all-time total yardage list, passing Bill Montgomery and Brad Taylor. Yes, Mallett has now completed a pass of at least 50 yards in nine of the past 13 games. Yes, Mallett was 27 of 38 for 310 yards with three touchdowns. But he had just 81 yards passing in the second half. Arkansas was only six of 17 on third down. Why are we picking Arkansas? It just seems that Auburn is due for a loss after several close calls.
Indiana 35, Arkansas State 31 — This is the type of road game in which the Red Wolves normally play well. It’s homecoming in Bloomington for an Indiana team that opened the season with wins of 51-17 over Towson, 38-31 over Western Kentucky and 35-20 over Akron. That has been followed by Big 10 losses of 42-35 to Michigan and 38-10 to No. 1 Ohio State. The Red Wolves defeated North Texas, 24-19, in Denton last Saturday night to move to 2-4 on the season. Quarterback Ryan Aplin was 14 of 26 passing for 169 yards. He also rushed for 61 yards and had two touchdowns on the ground. The Red Wolves held North Texas to 74 yards of offense in the second half. If Aplin plays well, Arkansas State has a chance to keep this one close.
Alabama A&M 39, UAPB 27 — The Golden Lions received national television exposure at home last Thursday night on ESPNU but fell to 2-3 with a loss to Prairie View A&M. It’s another SWAC home game in Pine Bluff for the Golden Lions on Saturday as Alabama A&M comes to town. A&M is 2-4 with wins over Central State and Southern University. The losses have been to Tennessee State, Texas Southern, Grambling and Jackson State. Let’s make one thing clear: It’s easier to pick where the roulette wheel is going to stop in a Tunica casino than it is to pick the outcome of SWAC games.
Stephen F. Austin 24, UCA 20 — The Bears had a shocking home loss last weekend to a Northwestern State team that had gone 0-11 a year ago and was 1-4 coming into the game, its only win having come against a Division II opponent. The Bears fell to 3-2 overall and 0-1 in the Southland Conference with their second consecutive loss. This is a very good Stephen F. Austin team. After an opening loss at Texas A&M, SFA has posted victories over 59-14 over Albany, 22-20 over Northern Iowa, 71-3 over Lamar and 32-27 over McNeese State.
West Georgia 22, UAM 17 — As stated last week, UAM just isn’t the same team without senior quarterback Scott Buisson, who broke a finger in a loss to Arkansas Tech. The Weevils dropped their third consecutive game on Thursday night of last week to fall to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the Gulf South Conference. They played pretty well, however, in a 34-20 loss to No. 12 Delta State, which is now 5-1. West Georgia is 2-2 in conference play and 3-3 overall. It’s a much improved West Georgia team from the one that had struggled so much in recent years.
Arkansas Tech 17, Southern Arkansas 15 — These two teams have struggled, especially on offense. Tech fell to 2-4 with a 28-7 loss to Ouachita at home. SAU fell to 0-6 with a 28-17 loss to Henderson at home. Tech had only 152 yards of offense against Ouachita (including just 10 yards rushing). We’ll go with the Wonder Boys, though, since they’re at home.
Delta State 29, Harding 21 — Harding fell to 2-3 last weekend with a 22-17 loss to 2-2 West Alabama in Searcy. All three of the Bisons’ losses (West Georgia, Ouachita and West Alabama) have been close games. West Alabama scored the winning touchdown with just more than a minute remaining. Expect the game in Cleveland, Miss., to also be close. It’s Delta State’s homecoming.
Henderson 48, West Alabama 45 — This could be the best game of the weekend in the Gulf South Conference. Both of these teams are 4-2 overall with only one conference loss each. Both have explosive offenses. The Reddies outgained Southern Arkansas 431-252 last Saturday in Magnolia. Reddie senior quarterback Nick Hardesty was 27 of 41 passing for 317 yards and two touchdowns. The Reddies get the ball last Saturday and win in Livingston.