By Brian Ramsey
OBU Sports Information
ARKADELPHIA – The 19th-ranked Ouachita Baptist University football team looks to rebound from its first conference loss since 2017 this Saturday at home against Northwestern Oklahoma State.
It is Homecoming for Ouachita with kickoff set for noon at Cliff Harris Stadium. The game will be broadcast live through the Ouachita Football Radio Network the Ouachita Sports Digital Network. Links to the broadcast as well as links to live stats can be found at OBUtigers.com.coverage. The list of individual radio stations can be found in the PDF copy of the game notes.
NO. 19/17 OUACHITA TIGERS
Record: 3-1 (3-1 GAC)
National Rank: 19/17 (AFCA/D2FB)
Head Coach: Todd Knight
Knight Career: 154-129-2 (28th season)
Knight at OBU: 126-97 (22nd season)
Picked No. 1 in preseason GAC poll
Record: 0-4 (0-4 GAC)
National Rank: Not ranked
Head Coach: Matt Walter
Walter Career: 20-39 (6th season)
Walter at NWOSU: Same
Picked No. 9 in preseason GAC poll
Ouachita is back at home for the third time this season, this time for the earliest kickoff of the year. The Tigers host Northwestern Oklahoma State for Homecoming this Saturday for a noon kickoff, looking to rebound from a loss on the road last week to Harding. Homecoming has been friendly for the Tigers, especially over the past 10 seasons with an 8-2 record. Ouachita has played NWOSU for Homecoming once during that span, resulting in a 45-21 win in the 2013 season. Also included during that span of time, Ouachita knocked off 10th-ranked North Alabama for Homecoming in 2010 by a score of 24-23. It was a blocked extra point by Ouachita in overtime that sealed the win.
NWOSU enters Saturday’s game with an 0-4 record with losses to Southern Arkansas (32-13), Henderson State (55-7), Oklahoma Baptist (56-42), and most recently East Central (20-17). The loss to ECU came in overtime. The Rangers were held to a field goal in their possession, but ECU scored on a touchdown pass on the first play of its possession to win. The Rangers have given up a more than half of their opponent’s points in the second half. SAU scored 20 second half points. HSU scored 38 in the second half. OKBU scored 21 in the second half. That bodes well for Ouachita, which has scored 77 of its 138 total points so far this year in the final 30 minutes.
13th MEETING WITH THE RANGERS
Ouachita leads the all-time series 9-3. The Tigers have won eight in a row, making Ouachita undefeated against the Rangers since becoming members of the Great American Conference. Check the PDF copy of the game notes for a year-by-year breakdown of the series.
TIGERS REMAIN IN TOP 20
Ouachita had risen to No. 8 and No. 7 in the NCAA Division II top 25 polls prior to last week’s game against Harding. The Bisons bested the Tigers this past Saturday 38-21, resulting in poll movement for both teams. Ouachita dropped to No. 19 in this week’s American Football Coaches Association Top 25, and to No. 17 in the D2Football.com poll. Harding, on the other hand, moved up to No. 23 in the AFCA poll and up to No. 14 in the D2Football.com poll. Other GAC schools receiving national attention include undefeated Henderson State at No. 13 this week in the AFCA poll, and undefeated Southeastern Oklahoma State receiving votes this week by the AFCA. 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.
WHAT A RUN!
It was no surprise as to which team ended Ouachita’s streak of 30 consecutive conference victories, the longest of its kind in the nation. The Ouachita vs. Harding rivalry has been one of the closest in the nation recently. Prior to last Saturday’s game, the game between the two universities had been decided by a touchdown or less in seven straight contests. Ouachita’s 30-game streak started immediately after a loss to Harding on October 7, 2017 (31-28), and the next streak begins now following the most recent loss to Harding. During that 30-game streak, 21 of the wins were by a margin of at least 14 points.
ONE-TWO PUNCH ON PACE FOR RECORD SEASON
Ouachita running backs TJ Cole and Kendel Givens are on pace to either break or contend for school records this season. Cole is on pace to challenge William Miller’s 1978 record of 1,668 rushing yards. At Cole’s current pace of close 130 yards per game, he will be within 300 yards by the end of the regular season. Cole currently ranks ninth in the nation with his 506 rushing yards through four games. Kendel Givens is already making the most of his Ouachita career. The freshman has scored in every game, and up until last Saturday, he had scored three rushing touchdowns in every game. Givens was able to extend his scoring streak against Harding, and now had 10 rushing touchdowns through four games. He’s on pace to break Brockton Brown’s 2019 record of 25 rushing touchdowns in a single season.
OUACHITA KEY TEAM STAT RANKINGS
2nd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in net punting (43.62 yard average)
7th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in interceptions thrown (2 total)
7th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in punt return (20 yard average)
7th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in rushing offense (247.8 yard average)
13th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in passing defense (127.8 yard average)
13th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in tackles for loss allowed (4.25 per game)
14th in NCAA, 3rd in GAC in sacks allowed (0.75 per game)
14th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in turnovers lost (3 total)
OUACHITA KEY INDIVIDUAL STAT RANKINGS
Kendel Givens – 1st in NCAA, 1st in GAC in total and rushing touchdowns (10 total)
Kendel Givens – 2nd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in scoring (15 points per game)
Joe Couch – 2nd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in punting (48.9 yard average)
Connor Flannigan – 3rd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in punt returns (20 yard average)
TJ Cole – 23rd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in all-purpose yards (146 per game)
TJ Cole – 13th in NCAA, 3rd in GAC in rushing yards (126.5 yard average per game)
Xaylon Falls – 10th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in kickoff returns (30.3 yard average)
Rovell Carter – 23rd in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in fumbles recovered (1)