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COLLEGE FOOTBALL IN ARKANSAS: Rex Nelson’s predictions for week 4

by Rex Nelson | September 20, 2022 at 12:10 p.m.
Arkansas State running back Johnnie Lang (2) tries to shake off a Memphis defender during the first quarter Saturday at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis. More photos at arkansasonline.com/918asumem/ (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

At the end, most of the 74,133 in attendance at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium could finally exhale. Arkansas had overcome a 17-point deficit to subdue Bobby Petrino’s Missouri State Bears, 38-27.

No. 10 Arkansas lost two fumbles in the first half that the Bears turned into points. The Razorbacks led 597-409 in total offense, but Missouri State won the turnover battle 3-0. That allowed the Bears to keep the game close. Missouri State also dominated time of possession, 35:51 to 24:09.

So what are we to make of this?

Sam Pittman is now 7-0 in nonconference games, the first Razorback coach to do that since Lou Holtz. The mark of a good program is one that wins the games it’s supposed to win, even when having an off night.

Let’s also note that Petrino coached his 200th game as a college head coach and now has a record of 134-66. He’s pretty good at coaching this sport. Of course, we already knew that.

So don’t panic. Arkansas will be just fine.

We went 7-0 last week to bring the season record to 25-2.

Here are the picks for this week’s games:

Arkansas 31, Texas A&M 29 — Which Arkansas team will show up at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday night? Will it be the one that looked so organized and confident in wins over Cincinnati and South Carolina or will it be the bumblers who were on the field in Fayetteville last Saturday? The better question is probably which Texas A&M team will show up. Will it be the one that lost 17-14 to Appalachian State on Sept. 10 or the one that looked decent in a 17-9 win over Miami (which came in ranked 13th in the country). Max Johnson threw for 140 yards and a touchdown against Miami as he took over as Aggie quarterback.

Old Dominion 28, Arkansas State 24 — ASU fell to 1-2 with a 44-32 loss to the Memphis Tigers at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. It was the 61st meeting between the two schools. The Red Wolves took a 32-31 lead late in the game but couldn’t hold it. Memphis, which had 547 yards of offense and 25 first downs, led 21-17 at halftime in a game that was close throughout. ASU heads to Virginia this week to battle an Old Dominion squad that shocked Virginia Tech, 20-17, in the season opener. Old Dominion has since lost 39-21 to East Carolina and 16-14 to Virginia. We’ll give a slight edge to the home team.

Southeast Missouri State 23, UCA 21 — UCA is 1-2 following a 31-16 victory over Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho. Bear quarterback Will McElvain was 24 of 29 passing for 259 yards and one touchdown. UCA is back on the road this week to face a 2-1 Southeast Missouri team. SEMO started the season with a 42-10 loss to Iowa State but has bounced back for victories of 34-31 over Southern Illinois and 42-16 over Nicholls. Once more, we give a small advantage to the home team.

Alcorn State 20, UAPB 17 — The Golden Lions dropped to 2-1 following a 63-7 thrashing at the hands of Oklahoma State. Let’s just hope the big check cleared. UAPB had only 230 yards of offense in that game. The Lions travel to Mississippi this week to play Alcorn State. Alcorn began the season with losses of 31-27 to Stephen F. Austin and 52-0 to Tulane but bounced back Saturday for a 30-19 win at McNeese State. For a third consecutive game, let’s give the advantage to the home team.

Ouachita 35, Harding 30 — It’s rare when two Arkansas teams are in the Top 10. On Saturday night at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia, No. 7 Harding will visit No. 9 Ouachita. It’s safe to say that this is one of the biggest small college games ever played in Arkansas. Between them, Ouachita and Harding have won seven of the 10 Great American Conference titles. Ouachita has won five. Harding has won two, including last year. Ouachita roared to a 49-7 halftime lead Saturday in Russellville and wound up beating Arkansas Tech by a final score of 63-14. The Tigers had 629 yards of offense. Ouachita is now 46-4 in its past 50 regular-season games. Two of those four losses have come to Harding. The Bisons led Southern Arkansas only 17-10 at the half but pulled away for a 37-17 victory over the weekend as Will Fitzhugh rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns. Yet again, the advantage goes to the home team.

Henderson 41, Southern Arkansas 27 — We’ll finally pick a road team. The visiting Reddies will have too much firepower for 1-2 Southern Arkansas in Magnolia on Saturday night. Henderson is 3-0 following a 37-27 victory over UAM. Coach Scott Maxfield earned his 120th victory at Henderson to become the winningest coach in school history.

UAM 43, Arkansas Tech 33 — It’s the 2-1 Boll Weevils vs. the 1-2 Wonder Boys. Not only are the Weevils at home, UAM also appears to have the most talent.

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