LITTLE ROCK — Cherry picking football scores from opening weekend, there is a case to be made that Central Arkansas can beat Colorado and Arkansas can lose to Samford.
Only one of those outcomes can be pursued with a straight face.
Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46 and North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21 received the most attention because Oregon State was nationally ranked and Kansas State was the defending Big 12 champion. Easy to miss was the fact that McNeese State, Northern Iowa, Eastern Illinois, Towson, and Southern Utah beat South Florida, Iowa State, San Diego State, Connecticut, and South Alabama by a total of 77 points.
All members of the Football Championship Subdivision spotting Football Bowl Subdivision teams 22 scholarships, the winners were paid to go on the road and lose to FBS members. Instead, each of the seven deposited a six-figure check and inumerable image points. UCA will get $390,000 for traveling to Boulder, a segue to the twofold argument involving Arkansas teams:
UCA over Colorado is possible; Samford over Arkansas is not.
For starters, UCA is undeniably talented and will have extra time to prepare for the Buffaloes. Up one spot to No. 5 in the FCS poll this week, UCA opened the season with a rout on Thursday night. UCA coach Clint Conque has said his team “left some meat on the bone” when it lost last year in the second round of the FCS playoffs for the second year in a row and has made it clear that he believes the Bears can go deeper this year.
On the other side, Colorado had a program-worst 1-11 record last season. As a result, Jon Embree was fired and Mike MacIntyre was hired away from San Jose State, where he had turned around the program. Pac-12 member Colorado opened the season on Sunday, beating Colorado State 41-27 in front of almost 60,000 who turned out to see the in-state rivalry.
A year ago, Colorado followed up a season-opening loss to Colorado State with a loss to FCS member Sacramento State.
Samford is fresh from a victory over Georgia State, which moved up to the FBS this year by joining the Sun Belt Conference — counted by some across the country as victory No. 8 for the little guys. But, Georgia State only started playing football in 2011 and coach Bill Curry has said money was the reason the team ascended to the FBS.
Although it will be at least Sept. 21 against Rutgers before we begin to get a handle on these Razorbacks, Arkansas is far superior to Samford and I expect to see some players on Saturday who might not get on the field once Arkansas opens Southeastern Conference play.
Already, Clemson is on a fast track to play for the national championship and my pick to win the Southeastern Conference is looking square at 0-2 — the double-barreled repercussions from a 38-35 final that included big plays in the kicking game.
For Clemson, it was the instincts of walk-on cornerback C.J. Jones, who realized a Georgia punt was a live ball in the Clemson end zone, retrieved it, and advanced it to the Tigers’ 9. For Georgia, it was a high snap that prevented a 20-yard field goal.
The rest of Clemson’s schedule is pretty much about Florida State in mid-October and in-state rival South Carolina in the season finale. Georgia is home Saturday against South Carolina in the biggest game of the week in the SEC and the fact that the Bulldogs gave up four sacks against Clemson does not bode well when this week’s opponent has Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton at defensive end.
Clemson will have to deal with its reputation for losing to an inferior opponent. Coach Dabo Swinney says his team is no longer susceptible to “Clemsoning.” Maybe.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.