Arkansas fans must look for silver linings these days. So here are a couple for you:
— They have a chance to see what could be one of the greatest college football teams ever (I emphasize “could be”) in Fayetteville on Saturday. How often can you say that?
— The Ole Miss kickoff at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock has been set for 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 13. That’s just about perfect. It allows for a full day of tailgating on the golf course, but the game doesn’t finish too late at night.
We thought we were on the way to an 8-0 mark on the picks last week, but UCA fell in overtime to Sam Houston State and Arkansas State lost 28-21 when Georgia Southern scored on a 47-yard touchdown run with just 19 seconds remaining.
The 6-2 record last week left us at 32-11 on the season.
Let’s get to the picks for Week 6 of the college football season:
Alabama 51, Arkansas 22 — The Tide warmed up last Saturday with a 56-14 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette in Tuscaloosa. Alabama led 49-0 at the half and probably could have scored 100 points had it wished. Jaylen Waddle returned a punt for a touchdown and also caught two touchdown passes. Arkansas, meanwhile, lost to Texas A&M for a seventh consecutive year. The 24-17 defeat at the hands of the Aggies marked the fourth time in the past five years for Arkansas to lose by seven points to A&M. A Razorback team has now lost four consecutive games in a season for the first time since 2013. Arkansas had just 55 rushing yards but played well on defense. It’s clear that fans are losing interest in this team since the crowd of 55,383 in Arlington was the smallest in the history of the eight-year renewed series at AT&T Stadium. Alabama has won its five games by scores of 51-14 over Louisville, 57-7 over Arkansas State, 62-7 over Ole Miss, 45-23 over Texas A&M and 56-14 over Louisiana-Lafayette. You get the feeling that the Crimson Tide could have pretty much named the score in any of those games. Why should this Saturday be any different?
UCA 30, Houston Baptist 19 — The Bears are 2-2 overall and 1-1 in Southland Conference play following that 34-31 overtime loss at Sam Houston State. Bear quarterback Breylin Smith went out late in the game with an ankle injury. Kirk Baugh will be the starting quarterback this week against Houston Baptist in Conway. The Bears got the game at Sam Houston to overtime with a late touchdown but had a field goal attempt blocked in the first overtime. Sam Houston then came back with a field goal to win it. Houston Baptist opened the season with a 49-7 victory over a mediocre Division II team (Southwest Baptist) and has since lost 51-34 to McNeese State, 38-13 to Abilene Christian and 63-27 to SMU.
Jackson State 44, UAPB 24 — The Golden Lions are 1-4 following a 55-9 loss last Saturday at Florida International, which is coached by former Arkansan Butch Davis. UAPB took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, and then the home team scored 48 consecutive points. It was 38-3 at halftime. I’m not sure that the Golden Lions will win another game this year. Jackson State comes to Pine Bluff on Saturday with a 1-2 record. An 18-16 victory over Florida A&M is sandwiched between losses of 55-7 to Southern Mississippi and 21-16 to Alabama A&M.
Ouachita 25, Harding 23 — You can flip a coin when trying to decide the winner of this one. I can’t decide. What we know for sure is that it’s one of the biggest games of the season in NCAA Division II. Ouachita is 5-0 and ranked sixth nationally in the American Football Coaches Association DII poll. Harding is 4-1 and ranked 19th nationally by the AFCA. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday in Searcy. Ouachita remained undefeated last week in Arkadelphia with a 24-7 victory over Arkansas Tech. The Wonder Boys were threatening to make it a one-possession game with just more than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Ouachita’s Keandre Evans intercepted a pass and took it 100 yards for a touchdown. The play later was shown on numerous ESPN programs and even at halftime of Sunday Night Football on NBC. Ouachita led 10-0 at the half. Its offense was out of sync for much of the game, but the Tiger defense has gotten better each week. Harding rolled to a 47-21 victory over UAM in Monticello. The Bisons led 24-0 at the end of the first quarter and 40-7 at the half. UAM fumbled the opening kickoff, and it only got worse from there for the home team. The Ouachita-Harding game has come down to the final minutes of play in each of the past three seasons (Harding has won three of those games and Ouachita has won two). There’s no reason to believe this Saturday’s contest will be any different.
Arkansas Tech 31, UAM 21 — The Wonder Boy offense struggled against Ouachita, but its defense was impressive. The Wonder Boys lost their first two games of the season and then won two consecutive games prior to the loss to Ouachita. There’s no reason to believe they won’t won’t be 3-3 after a home game against 1-4 UAM. The Boll Weevils gave up 406 yards to Harding last week and had only 291 yards of offense.
Southern Arkansas 59, Southern Nazarene 32 — The Muleriders are 5-0 and ranked 17th nationally in the AFCA poll. They surprisingly struggled last week in a 55-45 victory against 2-3 Oklahoma Baptist. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner was 26 of 33 passing for 387 yards. SAU led 611-554 in total offense in a game in which neither defense could stop the opponent. Things should be a bit easier at home this Saturday afternoon against 1-4 Southern Nazarene.
Henderson 18, Oklahoma Baptist 17 — The Reddies improved to 2-3 last Saturday with a 24-10 win over Southern Nazarene. Reddie quarterback Richard Stammetti was 16 of 33 passing for 212 yards. Southern Nazarene was held to just 70 yards passing. Oklahoma Baptist is also 2-3. We’ll give the advantage to the home team since the game is in Arkadelphia.