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College football: Week 8

The Razorbacks still can’t hold a lead. It comes from a losing mentality — years of having players who really don’t believe they will win.

At least this Arkansas team shows signs of improvement. Yes, Ole Miss drove 97 yards and scored with 42 seconds remaining for a 37-33 victory last Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. But Arkansas’ offense proved it could move the ball and score consistently. Coming into the game, the Razorbacks had gone 16 quarters without having the lead in losses to North Texas, Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama. The Arkansas offense gained an impressive 476 yards. The Chief’s defense was another matter as it gave up 611 yards.

The announced crowd of 51,438 was the largest at War Memorial Stadium since the Georgia game in 2014. Of course, the previous three opponents that Jeff Long sent to the capital city were Florida A&M, Alcorn State and Toledo. With Long and Bret “Little Rock Is A Road Game” Bielema thankfully out the picture, the new regime at Arkansas seems to have embraced the Little Rock tradition. The fans responded with enthusiasm, making the 70-year-old facility rock like the old days. It was Arkansas’ 216th game at War Memorial Stadium. The record there is 151-61-4.

We went 8-1 last week on the picks, making the record for the season 46-13.

Here are the selections for this week. We’ll start with Arkansas State and Ouachita since they have Thursday night games:

Arkansas State 31, Georgia State 29 — The Red Wolves did what they were supposed to do in nonconference play (no one expected them to be close to Alabama) with a 3-1 record and victories over Southeast Missouri State, Tulsa and UNLV. Sun Belt Conference play has been a different story as the Red Wolves find themselves 0-2 following losses of 28-21 to Georgia Southern and 35-9 to Appalachian State. There’s plenty of grumbling (at least on social media) among the ASU faithful these days. A victory on Thursday night in Jonesboro against a 2-4 Georgia State team would quiet things down for the time being. The two Georgia State victories have come by scores of 24-20 over Kennesaw State and 46-14 over Louisiana-Monroe. The four losses have been by scores of 41-7 to North Carolina State, 59-22 to Memphis, 34-15 to Western Michigan and 37-20 to Troy.

Ouachita 42, Southern Nazarene 20 — Of the 13 college football programs in the state, Ouachita is the only one that’s undefeated. The 7-0 Tigers are ranked No. 4 nationally in NCAA Division II and host a 1-6 Southern Nazarene squad at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia on Thursday night. It’s hard to imagine a better performance than Ouachita’s victory last Saturday in Shawnee, Okla., against Oklahoma Baptist. Ouachita led 58-7 in the third quarter before pulling all of its starters. The Tigers had 562 yards of offense with 423 of that coming on the ground. Ouachita had no incomplete passes, no fumbles and never had to punt. After a field goal to end their first drive, the Tigers scored touchdowns on eight consecutive possessions. Brockton Brown out of Sheridan scored three of those touchdowns on running plays.

Arkansas 39, Tulsa 28 — This will be the third Arkansas school that Tulsa has played. The Golden Hurricane struggled to beat UCA by a final score of 38-27 in the season opener. That has been followed by five consecutive losses — 28-21 to Texas, 29-20 to Arkansas State, 31-17 to Temple, 41-26 to Houston and 25-24 to South Florida. This is Arkansas’ best chance for a second victory in 2018. The Hogs best not waste the opportunity. It’s yet another 11 a.m. kickoff in Fayetteville.

UCA 25, Northwestern State 19 — The Bears moved to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in Southland Conference play as they went on the road last Saturday and came away with a 27-17 victory over Stephen F. Austin. UCA is down to its third-string quarterback, but redshirt freshman Luke Hales is playing well. Hales was 19 of 41 passing for 226 yards and one touchdown last week. The Bears gained 272 of their 379 yards of total offense in the second half against a Lumberjack team that fell to 1-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play. The UCA defense had 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. The Bears are back in Conway this Saturday night to take on a Northwestern State team out of Louisiana that’s 2-4 overall and 1-3 in Southland play. The Demons have had wins of 34-7 over Grambling and 49-48 over Lamar. The losses have been by scores of 59-7 to Texas A&M, 24-17 to Southeastern Louisiana, 28-10 to Nicholls State and 42-28 to Sam Houston State.

Mississippi Valley State 27, UAPB 23 — The Golden Lions didn’t lose last week. That’s because 1-5 UAPB had a open date. That open date was welcome after being outscored 237-55 in the previous four games. The Golden Lions certainly have a chance this week against an 0-5 Mississippi Valley State team that has lost 35-7 to North Dakota, 71-0 to Jacksonville State, 56-20 to Alcorn State, 41-27 to Bethune-Cookman and 23-7 to Jackson State. In a battle between two struggling programs, we’ll give a slight edge to the home team.

Southern Arkansas 38, East Central Oklahoma 18 — The Muleriders are no longer undefeated. They went to Durant, Okla., with a 6-0 record and never got the engine started in a 21-0 loss to Southeastern Oklahoma. It was only a 7-0 Savage Storm lead in the third quarter before a talented Southeastern team pulled away at the end. SAU quarterback Barrett Renner, who suffered a hip pointer in the game, was 11 of 22 passing for just 102 yards. The Muleriders should have a far easier time of it in Magnolia on Saturday afternoon against an East Central Oklahoma squad that’s 2-5 following a 31-10 loss to Henderson last week.

Southeastern Oklahoma 30, Henderson 24 — Henderson is now 4-3 and appears to be getting back on track following three consecutive victories — 24-10 over Southern Nazarene, 56-21 over Oklahoma Baptist  and 31-10 over East Central Oklahoma. The Reddies’ homecoming game Saturday is against a 5-2 Southeastern Oklahoma team that also is getting better and is filled with confidence after shutting out SAU. The Muleriders are ranked No. 22 nationally this week. This should be the best game of the week in the Great American Conference.

UAM 37, Oklahoma Baptist 22 — The Boll Weevils have won two consecutive games to improve to 3-4. Oklahoma Baptist fell to 2-5 with its loss to Ouachita. UAM posted a 35-12 victory over Southern Nazarene last week. The Boll Weevils had 289 rushing yards and never trailed. It’s homecoming on Saturday afternoon in Monticello, which should mean a third consecutive win.

Arkansas Tech 26, Southwestern Oklahoma 21 — It’s a battle in Russellville on Saturday afternoon between two teams that are 2-5 and struggling in all phases of the game– Arkansas Tech and Southwestern Oklahoma. Tech lost last Saturday by a final score of 21-0 at 3-4 Northwestern Oklahoma. The Wonder Boys threw four interceptions and also lost a fumble. Tech has now committed 12 turnovers in a three-game losing streak in which the Wonder Boys have been outscored 81-23. Southwestern Oklahoma lost 50-10 at home last week to Harding.

Harding 51, Northwestern Oklahoma 17 — The Bisons are 5-2 and ranked No. 24 nationally. They bounced back from their 7-3 loss to Ouachita with that 50-10 victory at Southwestern Oklahoma. Harding scored touchdowns on each of its first six possessions. The Bisons led 36-0 at the half and 50-0 following three quarters of play.

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