By Brian Ramsey
OBU Sports Information
ARKADELPHIA – The eighth-ranked Ouachita Baptist University football team carries its 30-game conference win streak on the road this Saturday to face off against Harding.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. this Saturday, September 25 from First Security Stadium in Searcy. The game will be broadcast live on the Ouachita Football Network and online through live video and live stats. All coverage links can be found at OBUtigers.com/coverage.
Harding is expecting a large crowd for its Family Day, and has encouraged all fans planning on attending the game to purchase tickets in advance online through its website here: https://bit.ly/3kAKviL.
8/7 OUACHITA TIGERS
Record: 3-0 (3-0 GAC)
National Rank: 8/7 (AFCA/D2FB)
Head Coach: Todd Knight
Knight Career: 154-128-2 (28th season)
Knight at OBU: 126-96 (22nd season)
Picked No. 1 in preseason GAC poll
RV/22 HARDING BISONS
Record: 2-1 (2-1 GAC)
National Rank: RV/22 (AFCA/D2)
Head Coach: Paul Simmons
Simmons Career: 32-10 (4th season)
Simmons at Harding: Same
Picked No. 2 in preseason GAC poll
The eighth-ranked Ouachita Tigers football team is on the road for the second time this season this Saturday to face off against Harding. Ouachita has not lost a road game since the end of the 2017 season, when the Tigers traveled to Big Rapids, Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs eventually losing 24-19 to Ferris State. Since then, the only losses for the Tigers have been at home in the postseason. The Tigers have not lost a regular season road game since October 22, 2016, a 34-26 setback at Arkansas-Monticello.
It’s Family Day for the Harding Bisons, as they play host to Ouachita this Saturday for a 6 p.m. kickoff. Harding is 2-1 this season, opening the year with a 28-0 win over East Central at home, followed by a 32-31 loss on the road to Southeastern Oklahoma State, and most recently, a dominating 37-6 road win over Southern Arkansas this past Saturday. The Bisons are receiving votes in this week’s AFCA Top 25 Poll, and are ranked No. 22 this week by D2Football.com. Harding is led by Paul Simmons, who is in his fifth year (fourth season) as head coach with a 32-10 record. He is a 1995 graduate of Harding, and has spent all of his coaching career either at Harding or Harding Academy in Tennessee.
62nd MEETING WITH THE BISONS
Harding leads the all-time series at 32-25-4. Ouachita has won the last two matchups (7-3 at Harding in 2018 and 16-14 at home in 2019). This game has been decided by one possession in seven straight games, and nine of the last 10. The longest win streak for the Tigers is technically two, although a 13-all tie in 1983 prevented what could have been a five-year win streak. The longest win streak for the Bisons is 10 in a row from 1991 to 2000. In games played at Harding, the Bisons hold the all-time advantage 16-11-2.
MOVING ON UP
The American Football Coaches Association, D2Football.com, and the NCAA, have all moved Ouachita up one spot in their latest respective rankings. The Tigers now sit at No. 8 in the AFCA Top 25, No. 7 in the D2Football.com Top 25, and No. 8 in the NCAA Power 10 rankings. The Tigers are joined by three other Great American Conference foes to receive national recognition this week. Henderson State is ranked No. 18 by the AFCA, and this week’s opponent, Harding, is receiving votes in this week’s AFCA poll and is ranked No. 22 by D2Football.com. Recently, Ouachita has been ranked as high as No. 4 in one of the national polls. That ranking came at the end of an undefeated regular season in 2019.
THE STREAK CONTINUES
Ouachita’s 38-24 win over Arkansas Tech this past Saturday at home gave the Tigers their 30th consecutive conference victory. The last conference loss for Ouachita was a 31-28 setback to Harding on October 7, 2017 to spoil Homecoming that season. Since then, of those 30 consecutive conference wins, 21 of them have been by a margin of 14 points or more.
ONE-TWO PUNCH ON PACE FOR RECORD SEASON
Grant Allen has proven to be a reliable and efficient quarterback this season so far for the Tigers, but running backs TJ Cole and Kendel Givens, along with the offensive line, are stealing the show. The Tigers rank second in the nation in rush offense at just over 290 yards on the ground per game. TJ Cole is Ouachita’s top rusher in terms of yards with right at 400 so far this season with four touchdowns, but right behind him is freshman Kendel Givens with 47 carries for 285 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Cole’s yardage is on pace to contest the Ouachita single-season record of 1,668 by William Miller in 1978. At Given’s rate of three touchdowns per game, he will smash Brockton Brown’s 2019 record of 25 rushing touchdowns.
OUACHITA KEY TEAM STAT RANKINGS
- 2nd in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in rushing offense (290.7 yard average)
- 4th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in kickoff returns (34.25 yard average)
- 4th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in time of possession (35:22 average)
- 6th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in net punting (42.8 yard average)
- 9th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in punt returns (20 yard average)
- 12th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in turnovers lost (2 total)
- 17th in NCAA, 3rd in GAC in sacks allowed (0.67 average)
- 20th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in fourth down percentage (.750)
- 20th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in fumbles lost (1)
- 20th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in tackles for loss (4.33 average)
- 25th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in total defense (279 yard average)
- One of 30 NCAA Division II teams still undefeated
OUACHITA KEY INDIVIDUAL STAT RANKINGS
- TJ Cole – 20th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in all-purpose yards (157.33 yard average)
- TJ Cole – 11th in NCAA, 3rd in GAC in rushing touchdowns (4 total)
- TJ Cole – 8th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in rushing yards (133.33 per game)
- Kendel Givens – 2nd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in points scored (54 total, 18 per game)
- Kendel Givens – 2nd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in rushing touchdowns (9 total)
- Kendel Givens – 2nd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in total touchdowns (9 total)
- Connor Flannigan – 5th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in punt returns (20 yard average)
- Xaylon Falls – One of 14 players in NCAA Division II with a kickoff return touchdown
- Rovell Carter – 18th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in fumbles recovered (1)