Saturday was a wonderful day for the state of Arkansas. No, the game wasn’t close. We knew it wouldn’t be.
But more than 40,000 Arkansans were able to witness a University of Arkansas football team play an in-state opponent for the first time since 1944. The Hogs are now 38-3-3 all-time against in-state opponents with hopefully an annual game against Arkansas State University occurring in the future. A Labor Day weekend festival celebrating all things Arkansas — music, food and more — with that game as its centerpiece would be good for our state. It’s time.
As it was, having the Razorbacks break the 77-year scheduling drought against an HBCU sent a powerful message of unity. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has been underfunded for years, and its prominent alumni haven’t always received the credit they deserve for helping build this state. Last Saturday’s game was about so much more than football.
As for football, Little Rock games continue to be good for the Razorbacks. Arkansas is 169-69-5 in the capital city through the decades and 152-62-4 at War Memorial Stadium.
The 45-3 victory over UAPB marked the 18th consecutive Razorback victory over an FCS opponent, dating back to that memorable 10-3 loss to the Citadel on Labor Day weekend 1992.
The 5-3 Razorbacks get a well-deserved break this Saturday. It’s a chance to heal up before the SEC stretch run against Mississippi State, LSU, Alabama and Missouri.
I went 6-0 on the picks last week to move to 49-13 for the season. Here are the selections for this Saturday’s games:
South Alabama 34, Arkansas State 32 — ASU fell to 1-6 overall and 1-3 in Sun Belt Conference play last Thursday night in Jonesboro with a 28-27 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin’ Cajuns burned the final 10:26 off the clock with the game-sealing drive. This is the worst seven-game start for an ASU squad since the 2000 team went 1-10. The Red Wolves go to Mobile this Saturday to take on a South Alabama squad that’s 4-3 overall and 3-1 in home games. The victories came by scores of 31-7 over Southern Mississippi, 22-19 over Bowling Green, 28-21 over Alcorn State and 41-14 over Georgia Southern. The losses were by scores of 20-18 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 33-31 to Texas State and 41-31 to Louisiana-Monroe. Look for ASU to hang close with a chance to win at the end.
Jacksonville State 24, UCA 21 — The Bears head to the hills of north Alabama to take on Jacksonville State on Saturday. Jacksonville upset Florida State 20-17 in Tallahassee back on Sept. 11, The Gamecocks’ other two victories were by scores of 27-24 over North Alabama and 28-24 over Stephen F. Austin. Jacksonville State is 3-4 with the losses having come by scores of 31-0 to Alabama-Birmingham, 34-31 to Tennessee-Martin, 31-6 to Kennesaw State and 42-7 to Sam Houston State. The Bears also are 3-4 following a 49-38 victory last Saturday over 2-5 Lamar in Beaumont, Texas. UCA finished with 541 yards of offense, with 350 of it coming on the ground. Darius Hale had 254 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 22 carries. It was the first time for a Bear to have more than 200 yards rushing since 2015.
Texas Southern 14, UAPB 13 — The loss at War Memorial Stadium dropped UAPB to 1-6. The Golden Lions travel to Houston on Saturday to battle a 2-5 Texas Southern team. The two wins were by scores of 69-0 over North American and 35-31 over Southern University. The five losses were by scores of 40-17 to Prairie View A&M, 66-7 to Baylor, 48-34 to Rice, 34-20 to Grambling and 44-27 to Alcorn State.
Henderson 50, Southern Nazarene 19 — The Reddies are in a three-way tie with Ouachita and Harding for the Great American Conference lead. All three are 7-1 with three weeks left in the season. Henderson survived in overtime at Arkansas Tech last Saturday. Tech settled for a field goal on its possession in overtime. Henderson’s Adam Morse then threw a 10-yard touchdown pass for the win, 41-38. Henderson outgained Tech 634-437. More than 500 of those yards — 522 to be exact — came on the ground.
Ouachita 31, East Central Oklahoma 22 — Since having its 30-game GAC winning streak broken by Harding on the final Saturday of September, Ouachita has outscored its next four opponents 170-34. The Tigers beat Southern Arkansas 42-7 last Saturday as T.J. Cole and Kendel Givens had three rushing touchdowns each. Givens, a freshman out of Little Rock Christian, has 19 rushing touchdowns in eight games. Ouachita led the Muleriders 28-7 at halftime and never looked back.
Harding 44, Northwestern Oklahoma 20 — The Bisons moved to 7-1 with all 340 yards of offense coming on the ground in a 64-7 victory over UAM. Harding led the Boll Weevils 37-7 at halftime. Fourteen Bison running backs gained yardage. Harding takes its double-slot option offense to Northwestern Oklahoma this week to battle an opponent that’s 1-7. Harding can pretty much name the score in this one.
Southeastern Oklahoma 39, UAM 30 — Southeastern fell out of a tie for the conference lead when it lost 43-37 to Oklahoma Baptist last Saturday. The Savage Storm is now 6-2 and should bounce back at home in Durant, Okla., against a 4-4 squad of Boll Weevils.
Arkansas Tech 28, Southwestern Oklahoma 26 — The Wonder Boys are just 2-6 but played Henderson well and now get to take on the GAC’s only team without a win, 0-8 Southwestern Oklahoma. Southwestern lost 44-34 to East Central Oklahoma last weekend.
Oklahoma Baptist 40, Southern Arkansas 33 — The loss at Ouachita dropped the Muleriders to 3-5. They’re home in Magnolia this week but must face one of the most talented teams in the league, 5-3 Oklahoma Baptist.