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College football: Week 8

A wounded band of Auburn Tigers will play in Fayetteville on Saturday, but the Razorbacks simply don’t appear to have the firepower in 2017 to hang with Gus Malzahn & Co.

Last Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama went 75 yards for a score on its first play from scrimmage, and the game was over for all practical purposes.

Alabama 41, Arkansas 9.

That’s about what everyone expected, and let’s not start with the moral victory, silver lining stuff. We’ll leave that to the likes of Vanderbilt.

Alabama (7-0, 4-0) outgained Arkansas (2-4, 0-3) 496-227 in total yardage and 308-27 on the ground. The Tide averaged 7.8 yards per play, and Arkansas averaged 3.2 yards. Alabama has now scored five times on its first play from scrimmage in the Nick Saban era.

Arkansas is 4-19 through the years against teams ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll. Alabama, meanwhile, is 70-11 when ranked No. 1. Alabama has played Arkansas five times when atop the AP poll and won all five of those games.

Since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1992, Arkansas has started 0-3 in SEC play eight times. This was the 11th consecutive loss to Alabama and the sixth consecutive loss by Arkansas to a Power 5 opponent. Saban last lost to Arkansas in the 2002 Miracle on Markham when he was the head coach at LSU.

Arkansas should be able to stay in the game much longer at home against Auburn. But a victory for the Hogs is probably too much to expect in a season that unraveled early.

We were 9-1 on the picks last week. Only UAPB let us down, and this might have been the low point of the Monte Coleman era as the Golden Lions fell to an 0-6 Central State team out of Ohio before a large homecoming crowd in Pine Bluff. UAPB had lost the previous week to a Mississippi Valley State team that also came into the game winless. The Golden Lions are now 2-5 and might have a hard time winning another one.

We did successfully predict that all six Arkansas teams from the Great American Conference would defeat the six GAC teams from Oklahoma even though the six games were in Oklahoma. That included picking Henderson’s upset victory at Southeastern Oklahoma.

After a crazy start to the season, I’ve been expecting the cream to rise to the top in the GAC, and the cream tends to be the Arkansas teams.

Ouachita, Arkansas Tech and Southern Arkansas are 5-2.

Harding, Henderson and UAM are 4-3.

This is the year that 9-2 likely will win the conference outright.

The record is now 42-15 on our picks for the season. Here are the picks for Week 8:

Auburn 31, Arkansas 21 — Auburn led LSU 20-0 in the first half at Baton Rouge, but the visiting team’s offense disappeared after that. LSU closed the margin to nine points at 23-14 by halftime and then shut Auburn out in the second half. Auburn had won four games in a row since losing to the defending national champions from Clemson by a final score of 14-6. Auburn now finds itself 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. Auburn only had 64 yards of offense in the second half. Look for the Hogs to hang around for at least three quarters this Saturday night.

Arkansas State 35, Louisiana-Lafayette 27 — This is a Thursday night game in Jonesboro. ASU improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Sun Belt Conference last Saturday night in Jonesboro with a 51-17 rout of Coastal Carolina (1-5, 0-3), which will play Arkansas in Fayetteville later this year. Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen threw five touchdown passes to tie the single-game record he had already tied against UAPB earlier this season. Hansen has 19 touchdown passes in just five games. With six more, he will break the school record set by Fredi Knighten in 2014. Hansen was 24 of 37 passing for 286 yards against Coastal Carolina. Louisiana-Lafayette is 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play. The wins have come by scores of 51-48 over Southeastern Louisiana, 21-16 over Idaho and 24-7 over Texas State. The loses were by scores of 66-42 to Tulsa, 45-21 to Texas A&M and 56-50 to Louisiana-Monroe in two overtimes.

UCA 40, Northwestern State 19 — The Bears maintained their Top 10 ranking in the FCS in Conway on Saturday night with a victory over Stephen F. Austin, but it didn’t come without a struggle. UCA had to come from behind late in the fourth quarter to beat SFA, 24-20. The Lumberjacks (2-5, 2-3) are coached by former UCA head man Clint Conque. UCA (5-1, 4-0) is the only one-loss college team in the state. Bear quarterback Hayden Hildebrand didn’t have his best night. He threw three interceptions after having thrown just two total in the first five games. But Hildebrand led the Bears on the winning drive, which ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Roman Gordon with 1:30 left. It was the first time UCA had trailed in the second half since the season-opening loss to Kansas State, and the Bears responded. This Saturday’s road game in Louisiana shouldn’t be as challenging. Northwestern is 1-5 with the only victory having come by a final score of 35-28 over Lamar. The losses have been by scores of 52-24 to Louisiana Tech, 23-10 to Grambling State, 49-20 to Southeastern Louisiana, 14-10 to Nicholls State and 40-36 to Sam Houston State.

Henderson 29, East Central Oklahoma 10 — The Reddies did the rest of the conference a favor by going to Durant and handing Southeastern Oklahoma its first defeat after six consecutive Savage Storm victories to start the season. Henderson thus extends the nation’s longest road winning streak to 30 games with that 21-20 victory. The Reddies have lost four consecutive road games dating back to last year’s Battle of the Ravine, but expect them to end that streak against a 1-6 East Central team. In the win over Southeastern, Evan Lassiter was 28 of 46 passing for the Reddies for 316 yards. The Reddies relied heavily on the pass as 357 of their 397 yards of total offense came through the air.

Ouachita 34, Oklahoma Baptist 14 — The Tigers struggled on the road last Thursday night before defeating a vastly improved 3-4 Southern Nazarene squad that had defeated both Harding and Henderson earlier in the season. Trailing 14-13, Ouachita scored in the fourth quarter on a 67-yard pass from Austin Warford of Malvern to Drew Harris of Benton. The Tigers then converted a two-point conversion to win 21-14. Ouachita should have a bit easier time of it Saturday afternoon in Arkadelphia against an 0-7 Oklahoma Baptist team.

Harding 49, Southwestern Oklahoma 28 — The Bisons are on a roll. The defending GAC champions started the season 0-3, but then all of those first-time starters figured out what they were doing. The Bisons have won four consecutive games and get stronger each week. Harding shut out 3-4 Northwestern Oklahoma by a final score of 34-0 in Alva on Saturday. The Bisons, who lead NCAA Division II in rushing, outrushed the Rangers 408-83.

UAM 22, Southern Nazarene 20 — As noted, Southern Nazarene is much improved (the Crimson Storm is 3-0 on the road) and should give the Boll Weevils all they can handle on homecoming afternoon in Monticello. UAM is now 4-3 after dropping Oklahoma Baptist to 0-7 with a 64-21 victory in Shawnee. UAM outgained its opponent 590-367. Cole Sears passed for 251 yards and five touchdowns for the Weevils.

Arkansas Tech 33, Northwestern Oklahoma 18 — The Wonder Boys, who won their first four games and moved to No. 11 in the national rankings, ended a two-game losing skid with a 38-21 victory over 2-5 Southwestern Oklahoma at Weatherford. Braden Stringer rushed for 111 yards for the Wonder Boys, and Ty Reasnor passed for 211 yards.

Southern Arkansas 30, Southeastern Oklahoma 26 — Despite the loss to Henderson, Southeastern remains alone in first in the conference at 6-1. The Muleriders can change all of that in Magnolia on Saturday afternoon. SAU struggled a bit before dropping East Central Oklahoma to 1-6 with a 35-28 win last Saturday at Ada. Barrett Renner passed for 176 yards for the Muleriders. SAU outgained East Central 217-53 on the ground.

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