Rex Nelson on the Battle of the Ravine (Part 1)

Rex Nelson knows more about the “Battle of the Ravine” than anyone else.

College football: Week 11 (Battle of the Ravine)

It’s the week of the Battle of the Ravine, the most unique rivalry in all of college football.

Ouachita Baptist University vs. Henderson State University.

The game will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ouachita’s A.U. Williams Field in Arkadelphia.

If you’ve never been to one of these games, you owe it to yourself to attend.

Remember, it was on my Arkansas bucket list.

Larry Lacewell told me recently, “That was among the things I always wanted to go to. I never did it because I was coaching all those years. Last year, I picked up the paper, saw that it was Battle of the Ravine day and drove to Arkadelphia. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

The weather should be nice Saturday. And the 1 p.m. kickoff allows even those who live in Little Rock to be back home in time to watch the 5 p.m. Arkansas-Tennessee game on television.

Get there early. There will be a large tailgate party with all kinds of food available. The party will begin at 10 a.m. on the Henderson side of U.S. Highway 67.

You can park on either the Henderson side or the Ouachita side and walk to the game.

At about 11:45 a.m., the Henderson Reddies will walk to a road game.

Think about that for a moment.

Not fly. Not bus.

This is a college football rivalry in which the visiting team simply walks across the street.

It’s something every college football fan should see.

Also consider that the two schools have played each other in football 84 times through the years and the series is dead even at 39-39-6.

Dead even for a series that began in 1895: Isn’t that amazing?

The game has been decided by a touchdown or less 37 times through the years with Ouachita holding a 19-12-6 advantage in the close games.

Add to all of the tradition the fact that these are the two best Division II football teams in Arkansas this year.

Ouachita has already wrapped up the first Great American Conference title with records of 7-2 overall and 6-0 in conference play. Henderson would love nothing more than to cost the Tigers a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs.

The series was suspended due to excessive vandalism from 1951 until 1963. I grew up about a block from A.U. Williams Field. I lived in Washington, D.C., for a few years in the 1980s, but I’ve only missed three of these games since the series resumed in 1963. I was 4 years old at the time. That means this will be my 46th Battle of the Ravine.

I hope you’ll join me in Arkadelphia on Saturday. You won’t regret it.

We were 7-2 on picks last week, making the record 66-18 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 11:

Arkansas 44, Tennessee 21 — The Hogs looked much better at home against South Carolina than they had looked in victories on the road at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Poor Tennessee. This once-proud program finds itself without a victory in Southeastern Conference play. How bad has it gotten in Knoxville? Consider this: The starting kicker injured his leg in practice on Thursday of last week. The backup kicker pulled a muscle while warming up Saturday. Coach Derek Dooley had a nose guard practicing kicks while he made a call on his cell phone to the campus police. He asked the police to escort a redshirt freshman kicker named Derrick Brodus from his fraternity house to Neyland Stadium. That led to this great quote from Dooley: “It’s a good thing he wasn’t having too much fun on a Saturday afternoon. I told the coaches an intoxicated Brodus is better than nobody. Just get him here.”

Ouachita 31, Henderson 30 — This game should be close. This will only be Ouachita’s fourth home game of the season. The Tigers went on the road six times in an eight-week period and compiled a record of 5-1 in those six road games. They only lost at Delta State, the No. 1 team in NCAA Division II. Ouachita is the only college program at any level in the state to have compiled four consecutive winning seasons. The Tigers defeated Southeastern Oklahoma, 21-18, in Durant, Okla., last Saturday to secure the GAC crown. Henderson, meanwhile, posted a 16-10 nonconference victory over McKendree.

Arkansas State 32, Louisiana-Lafayette 28 — This is a huge game for the Red Wolves as they seek to win a Sun Belt Conference championship in the first year of the Hugh Freeze era. ASU is still alone atop the conference standings following a 39-21 win at Florida Atlantic. The Red Wolves are 7-2 overall and 5-0 in conference play. That’s the best start for an Arkansas State team since 1986. Louisiana-Lafayette comes to Jonesboro with records of 8-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play. ASU quarterback Ryan Aplin was 24 of 27 passing last Saturday for 244 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, the Ragin’ Cajuns scored two touchdowns in the final minutes of Saturday’s home finale for a 36-35 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Louisiana-Lafayette scored a touchdown with 2:05 left, recovered an onside kick and then scored again. The home crowd in Jonesboro (Hugh has them believing in northeast Arkansas) on Saturday afternoon should help the Red Wolves.

UCA 27, Texas State 24 — The Bears end the regular season with an important nonconference game against Texas State, a former Southland Conference opponent that’s moving up to the WAC. The game is important because the Bears need to win Saturday to be eligible for the playoffs. It would have to be an at-large berth, though, since Sam Houston State clinched the Southland Conference’s automatic berth last Saturday. Sam Houston would need to lose to Northwestern State this weekend for the Bears to win a share of the conference title. UCA won its sixth consecutive game last Saturday, 45-20 over Northwestern State. Texas State is 6-4. The wins have come by scores of 38-28 over Tarleton State, 35-26 over Stephen F. Austin, 38-12 over Nicholls, 21-14 over McNeese State, 46-21 over Lamar and 34-26 over Prairie View A&M. The losses have come by scores of 50-10 to Texas Tech, 45-10 to Wyoming, 38-28 to Southeastern Louisiana and 23-10 to Northwestern State.

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: