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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Playing in-state schools beneficial to all

by Wally Hall | October 22, 2021 at 2:20 a.m.

This is not your regular weekend in the SEC.

With five schools having an open date, there are only four conference games, and then there is Arkansas-Pine Bluff playing the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

For more than 40 years, this scribe didn't know if he would ever write those words: The Razorbacks taking on an instate team in football. They are scheduled to play again in 2024 and are currently slated to play Arkansas State in 2025. The good Lord willing, I'll cover both of those games.

Hopefully, Central Arkansas will be scheduled by the Razorbacks, too.

We are a small state and need to keep as much of our resources at home as possible. The most dynamic game I've ever covered was the 1987 NIT basketball game between Arkansas and ASU at Barnhill Arena.

It has been well documented that the idea of Arkansas scheduling its UA System brother UAPB started when attorney Ron Davis asked then-UA athletic director Jeff Long to consider not playing SWAC schools and giving them a financial boost that helps them outrecruit UAPB.

In a story by I.C. Murrell in Thursday's Pine Bluff Commercial, more was learned about Davis and his passion for UAPB. Not only was he a linebacker there, but his grandfather, Lawrence A. Davis Sr., was president of then-Arkansas AM&N for 30 years, and his uncle, Lawrence A. Davis, was president of UAPB from 1991-2002.

Davis' request was made at the Little Rock Touchdown Club, and his professional manner in handling the request and respect to then-Athletic Director Jeff Long's snippy attitude got him an invitation to join the club. He now serves on the Touchdown Club's board of directors.

Last week I went 5-2 to bring the season total to 54-19. Here are this week' picks:

UAPB vs. Arkansas

(Little Rock)

Sam Pittman knows his team must take the 1-5 Golden Lions seriously. It is not always easy for a FBS team to get up for a FCS team, and that's why history is littered with upsets. This is the Golden Lions' national championship game, and head coach Doc Gamble will have his team, who like Arkansas has some injuries, ready to play. Arkansas 49-17

Tennessee at Alabama

Once a great rivalry, this has become a regular-season win for the Crimson Tide for 14 consecutive years, thus taking a bit of edge off the meeting. Although Bama head coach Nick Saban and Vols head coach Josh Huepel both have referred to it as a rivalry this week. That's so Nick. Alabama 42-24

LSU at Ole Miss

This is a rivalry that runs so deep, that for more than 60 years it has been known as the Magnolia Bowl. Ed Orgeron will be coaching his first game since announcing he was leaving LSU at the end of the season (almost 17 million reasons why). His players have the talent to win. They have to stop Matt Corral, something no team has really done so far. Ole Miss 45-35

Mississippi State at Vanderbilt

The Bulldogs are a little of a mystery team that really needs this win if they are going to get bowl eligible. The 'Dores are not a mystery team, having given up 238 points and scored 100. Mississippi State 45-17

South Carolina at Texas A&M

The Gamecocks barely escaped Vanderbilt. Now they face an improving Aggie team that gets bowl eligible with this win. No controversy either. Jimbo Fisher has said he is happy in College Station, that he has a ranch and he hunts there, and even if he is on LSU's coaching list, he's not leaving. He's not the first coach to say that, and he wouldn't be the first to have not been telling the truth if he did leave. Texas A&M 42-10

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