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College football: Week 9

My picks were almost as bad as the Razorbacks’ play on the field last week.

I went 3-4, the worst week here on the Southern Fried blog in several years.

After the win over Ole Miss, I had climbed back aboard the Razorback bandwagon and foolishly selected Arkansas to beat Auburn despite the deficiencies in the Razorback offensive and defensive lines that had been so glaring in one-sided losses to Alabama and Texas A&M.

Arkansas finds itself 1-3 in Southeastern Conference play with none of the three losses having been close.

Yes, I’ll pull out the old joke: I’m picking Arkansas to slip past B.Y.E. this Saturday.

I also was done in by a trio of upsets in the Great American Conference as Southern Arkansas defeated Henderson a week after losing to Ouachita, Ouachita lost to UAM a week after upsetting the Muleriders and Arkansas Tech lost to Southeastern Oklahoma following convincing victories the previous two weeks.

The only consistent team in the GAC this year is Harding. I expect the Bisons to finish the regular season with an 11-0 record.

The record for the season is now 43-20.

Let’s get to the picks for Week 9 and see if we can recover from the prognosticating disaster that was Week 8:

Arkansas State 34, Louisiana-Monroe 31: When he spoke to the Little Rock Touchdown Club last week, Red Wolf head coach Blake Anderson chastised me (with a smile on his face, mind you) for picking against his team in the first two Sun Belt Conference games. Arkansas State had gone 0-4 in nonconference play, including that loss in Jonesboro to an FCS team (UCA from the Southland Conference). Can you blame me? But the Red Wolves are 2-0 in conference action after wins in Jonesboro over Georgia Southern and South Alabama. And they’re back in Jonesboro this Saturday for a fourth consecutive home game as Louisiana-Monroe comes to town. We’ll step out there and pick ASU against a Louisiana-Monroe squad that’s 2-5 overall and 2-1 in the Sun Belt. The victories have been by scores of 38-21 over Southern University and 40-34 over Texas State. The losses have been by scores of 59-17 to Oklahoma, 23-21 to Georgia Southern, 58-7 to Auburn, 34-31 to Idaho and 59-17 to New Mexico. Don’t let me down, Coach Anderson.

UCA 30, Southeastern Louisiana 22 — The Bears remain on a roll. UCA moved to 6-1 overall and 5-0 in the Southland Conference with a 22-12 victory over Lamar in Conway last Saturday night. This is a Bear team that seems to get better each week. UCA now must head south to take on Southeastern Louisiana in an afternoon game Saturday at Hammond, La. This one won’t be easy. The Lions are just 4-3 overall but find themselves 4-1 in conference play following three consecutive victories. The losses were by scores of 61-7 to Oklahoma State, 28-23 to Southern Utah and 38-14 to Lamar. The four conference victories for Southeastern have come by scores of 34-24 over Northwestern State, 31-24 over McNeese State, 58-34 over Stephen F. Austin and 37-3 over Houston Baptist.

Grambling State 50, UAPB 23 — This UAPB team seems to get worse with each passing week. Last week saw a 49-17 loss to Southern University in Baton Rouge, the fourth consecutive defeat for a Golden Lion squad that’s now 1-6 overall and 1-4 in the SWAC. The assignment this week is to go back on the road against a 5-1 Grambling team whose only defeat was a close 31-21 loss to Arizona at Tucson during the second week of the season. The Tigers are 4-0 in SWAC play with victories of 35-14 over Jackson State, 43-18 over Alcorn State, 36-16 over Praivie View A&M, and 59-10 over Mississippi Valley State. You can make it 5-0 in SWAC action after this week.

Harding 38, Southwestern Oklahoma 21 — The Bisons improved to 8-0 on Thursday night of last week with a 35-7 win at Ada, Okla., against an East Central Oklahoma team that’s now a disappointing 1-7 on the season. This week’s opponent, Southwestern Oklahoma, started the season 0-4 and seemed to be in for a season just as dismal as that being experienced by East Central. But the Bulldogs have turned their season around with four consecutive victories, including a 37-35 come-from-behind win over Oklahoma Baptist last week. Expect the Bulldogs to hang around for three quarters or so in Searcy on Saturday afternoon before Harding pulls away.

Henderson 32, Oklahoma Baptist 24 — The Reddies won three of the first five Great American Conference championships (Ouachita won the other two) and were the overwhelming favorite to take home another GAC title in 2016. Henderson started the season 5-0 but was blown out in Arkadelphia two weeks ago by Harding. The Reddies rebounded for a 45-17 victory at Arkadelphia the next Saturday against UAM, but then they went to El Dorado for the Murphy USA Classic. Their defense gave up half a hundred to Southern Arkansas in a 50-24 defeat. Barrett Renner threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns against the Reddies. It was SAU’s first victory over Henderson since 2005. Expect the 6-2 Reddies to rebound somewhat for a homecoming triumph in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon against a 2-6 Oklahoma Baptist team.

Ouachita 29, Southern Nazarene 18 — Injury-depleted Ouachita — missing its quarterback, top running back, top receiver and others — somehow managed to win its homecoming game in four overtimes against Southern Arkansas on Oct. 15. Then the magic ran out in Monticello last Saturday afternoon as the Boll Weevils of UAM moved to 3-5 with a 34-26 victory over Ouachita. The loss dropped the Tigers to 4-4 following a 3-1 start. Ouachita had won the previous five games against UAM, but Cole Sears completed 18 of 27 passes on Saturday for 254 yards and three Boll Weevil touchdowns. Ouachita returns home Thursday night to Cliff Harris Stadium, where the Tigers are 13-3 since the stadium opened in 2014. Expect Ouachita to get a win over 1-7 Southern Nazarene, but even this one won’t be easy due to all of the freshmen who are having to play.

UAM 37, East Central Oklahoma 26 — The Boll Weevils are home again this week. What the heck. Let’s call for a second consecutive victory for a program that has struggled in recent years. Sears looked sharp in the win over Ouachita and the Boll Weevils, who already have matched their combined victory total of the previous two seasons, are feeling good about themselves. The Weevils have a talented redshirt freshman running back named Deountario Brown and a fine freshman kicker named Josh Marini. Better days are ahead for Hud Jackson’s program.

Southern Arkansas 35, Southeastern Oklahoma 28 — The Muleriders are 6-2 and hopeful that three victories and a 9-2 record will earn them a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs. A 5-3 Southeastern Oklahoma team that defeated Arkansas Tech 36-31 last Saturday should present quite a challenge in Magnolia this Saturday afternoon. Renner, who completed 21 of 33 passes in the win over Henderson, will need to have another good day. Michael Nunnery, who scored three touchdowns on the ground against the Reddies, also must have a productive afternoon. This has the makings of one of the most entertaining games in the GAC this week.

Arkansas Tech 41, Northwestern Oklahoma 36 — I’ve picked all Arkansas schools against the Oklahoma schools so far. I might as well continue the trend. Tech, which is now 4-4, was disappointed in the loss at Southeastern Oklahoma since it came on the heels of victories of 49-17 over Ouachita and 55-14 over East Central Oklahoma. Durant, Okla., is a tough place to win. Ouachita’s lone loss in its first four games, for instance, came at Durant. The Wonder Boys are back in Russellville on Saturday afternoon against a 4-4 Northwestern Oklahoma squad that defeated Southern Nazarene 42-9 in its previous outing.

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