VOL. 130 | NO. 225 | Wednesday, November 18, 2015
College Football Notebook: Bielema High on the Hog
By Don Wade
After a 1-3 start, Arkansas has won five of its last six games and last weekend handled then-No. 9 Louisiana State with relative ease in Baton Rouge, winning 31-14.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has the Razorbacks on a three-game winning streak and climbing in the SEC West with a 4-2 league record.
(AP Photo/Dave Martin)
The victory moved the Razorbacks to 6-4 overall, 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference, and coach Bret Bielema had some things to say about that. Of course he did.
“I think we can begin to get a little bit of respect in our league before we even take the field now,” he said. “From the outside world, we’re still probably just a 6-4 football team. But I know where we’re at.”
Quarterback Brandon Allen didn’t mind rubbing it in on the Tigers a little, saying, “It was really nice to see when their fans started clearing the stadium.”
Make no mistake, the Hogs have proven themselves upwardly mobile in the SEC. They’ve won four straight and corrected their issues in close games by beating Auburn and Ole Miss in overtime.
Alex Collins continued to look like one of the top running backs in the country – he had 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns against LSU – and Bielema believes the party’s just getting started.
“I know where we’re going,” he said. “I know the kind of kids we’re going to continue to bring in here, the attitude we’re going to breed. It’s going to be fun.”
A few weeks ago, LSU and Ole Miss looked like a marquee matchup to decide the SEC West. Not so much now.
LSU (7-2, 4-2) no longer can win the division. The Rebels (7-3, 4-2) can still get to Atlanta with a victory over the Tigers in Oxford Saturday, a win over Mississippi State, and Auburn upsetting Alabama.
Because the Rebels defeated Alabama, if they both finish 6-2 in the league, Ole Miss would own the tiebreaker.
As good of a job as the Razorbacks did with LSU’s running game keeping Leonard Fournette contained – 91 rushing yards – Alabama was even better. Fournette had just 31 yards on 19 carries. In the last two weeks, LSU has rushed for 54 and 59 yards.
“Alabama is built to stop runs inside the tackles,” said Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. “There are certain things we can study and learn from them” in preparation for this game.
• Missouri (5-5, 1-5) rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat BYU 20-16 just days after coach Gary Pinkel announced he had been diagnosed with lymphoma and would retire at the end of the season. All this the same week that Missouri’s school president resigned amid student protests supported by the football team.
“It means everything,” Pinkel said after a very emotional victory. “That’s what you do this for.”
• Tennessee (6-4, 4-2) has won three in a row and will be going to a bowl game somewhere. Senior offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson says that, at least for now, the Vols don’t care where.
They play Missouri next Saturday and finish with Vanderbilt, a rival.
“We are trying to play these games to win,” he said. “We don’t want to lose. We aren’t concentrated on what bowl we go to.”
• Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds broke the NCAA mark for rushing touchdowns last Saturday against SMU on a four-yard score. Reynolds’ 78 TDs broke the mark of 77 set by Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. But Reynolds wasn’t done. He scored three more times so it’s now 81 and counting.
• With Houston’s dramatic 35-34 victory over the University of Memphis – rallying from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter – the Cougars moved to 10-0 and established themselves as the frontrunner for a New Year’s Six Bowl among non-Power 5 schools. The Cougars also have wins over Power 5 opponents in Louisville and Vanderbilt.
• Jerry Palm’s updated bowl projections at cbssports.com include the following: Memphis vs. Auburn in the Dec. 30 Birmingham Bowl; Tennessee vs. Kansas State in the Jan. 2 Liberty Bowl; Ole Miss vs. West Virginia in the Dec. 29 Texas Bowl; Mississippi State vs. Louisville in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl; and Arkansas vs. Nebraska in the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl.