LITTLE ROCK — No less a college football expert than Lou Holtz is spreading an untruth, proclaiming that a score from weekend one accurately projects the season.
It happened the other day when Holtz scanned scores, deduced that several teams on Notre Dame’s schedule are overrated, and proclaimed that the Fighting Irish will win 11. Maybe that’s his exuberance for the Fighting Irish or part of a TV shtick, but people hear and believe.
Holtz gleaned 11-1 from Notre Dame’s rout of Navy, Michigan’s loss to Alabama, Michigan State’s narrow victory over Boise State, Stanford’s struggle with San Jose State, Oklahoma scoring 14 in the fourth quarter to beat UTEP by 17, Wake Forest’s three-point victory over Liberty, and Pittsburgh’s loss to Youngstown State.
Holtz knows better; his stay at Arkansas is a reminder.
For example, in 1978, Houston opened with a 17-3 loss to Memphis. Three weeks later, the Cougars slipped past a Baylor team that would not win a game until Oct. 21.
That year, Houston defeated Arkansas, 20-9.
From mid-September to mid-October of 1979, Houston beat a Florida team that went 0-10-1, Baylor, and Texas A&M by a total of 10 points. In Fayetteville, Houston won by three.
I’ll give Holtz Notre Dame over Pitt; the rest, the Fighting Irish must earn.
Fueled by the media’s want to generate buzz and the public’s eagerness to opine on social media, the rush to judgment abounds. After another round of scores sheds a different light, the author picks up on the new, and moves on.
Best I can tell, the following are among the long-range conclusions:
—Alabama 41, Michigan 14. Alabama is unbeatable. Somebody in the national media wrote that the Crimson Tide could be the 33rd team in the NFL. That’s like saying the college baseball team in Fayetteville could beat up regularly on Class AA professional teams in Little Rock and Springdale.
My Take: Arkansas can beat the Crimson Tide if the offensive line can protect Tyler Wilson and the defensive line can protect the back seven.
—Arkansas 49, Jacksonville State 24. Arkansas’ defense is no better than the 2011 unit and the team is headed for 7-5, 8-4 at best. Never mind that the offense lost three fumbles or that the Razorbacks kept it simple or that the linebackers will improve as the season progresses.
My Take: Arkansas is still on track for 9-3, maybe 10-2 if South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is seriously injured.
—South Carolina 17, Vanderbilt 13. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is overrated. Forget that the Commodores were outmanned against a top 10 team that includes Marcus Lattimore.
My Take: Vanderbilt will be a bowl team and Franklin’s name will come up often in coaching searches.
—Georgia 45, Buffalo 23, after leading 24-16 at the half; Florida 27, Bowling Green 14 after leading by three in the fourth quarter; Tennessee 35, North Carolina State 21. Georgia is overrated. Florida has no quarterback. Tennessee can get to Atlanta.
My Take: Georgia is the team to beat in the East in light of the injury to Shaw. Florida will be the surprise of the division, and Tennessee will be hard-pressed to finish 4-4 in the SEC.
—Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is overrated. He aimed the ball more than threw it in the comeback victory over Georgia Tech, but the offense is a work in progress.
My Take: Thomas will be high on the Heisman lists by mid-October.
As a Razorback fan in 1964, I remember sweating the 14-10 opener over Oklahoma State and Arkansas falling behind Tulsa 14-0 a week later. Woe unto the Pigs when they begin Southwest Conference play, we said.
Sixty-something days later, Arkansas was the only unbeaten team in the country.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.