By Brian Ramsey
OBU Sports Information
ARKADELPHIA — The seventh-ranked Ouachita Baptist University football team has climbed back into the top 10 nationally and back into first place in the Great American Conference standings ahead of its home game against Southern Arkansas this weekend.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. this Saturday, October 23 at Cliff Harris Stadium. The Ouachita Football Radio Network will be on the air at noon for the pregame show. The Ouachita Digital Sports Network will broadcast the game live on YouTube. Live stats will also be available. Links to live coverage can be found at OBUtigers.com/coverage.
#7/8 OUACHITA TIGERS
Record: 6-1 (6-1 GAC)
National Rank: 7/8 (AFCA/D2FB)
Head Coach: Todd Knight
Knight Career: 157-129-2 (28th season)
Knight at OBU: 129-97 (22nd season)
Picked No. 1 in preseason GAC poll
Record: 3-4 (3-4 GAC)
National Rank: Not ranked
Head Coach: Mike McCarty
McCarty Career: 3-4 (1st season)
McCarty at SAU: Same
Picked No. 5 in preseason GAC poll
13 CONSECUTIVE WINNING SEASONS
This past Saturday’s 34-0 win over Arkansas-Monticello was the sixth win of the 2021 campaign, and with only 11 games in the regular season, the victory secured Ouachita’s 13th consecutive winning season with at least six wins each year in a streak starting in 2008.
BACK IN THE TOP 10
Six previously unbeaten teams lost this past Saturday, and with Ouachita trending upward since its first loss of the year, the Tigers find themselves back in the top 10 with four weeks remaining in the regular season. The Tigers are ranked No. 7 in this week’s American Football Coaches Association Top 25 Poll, and No. 8 in the D2Football.com Top 25. Ouachita was ranked No. 11 in both polls last week. One of the previously unbeaten teams to lose this past Saturday was Great American Conference rival Henderson State, which was ranked No. 9, but dropped to No. 20 this week following a 46-21 loss to Harding. The Bisons are now ranked No. 12 in the AFCA poll and No. 4 in the D2football.com poll. The first NCAA regional rankings, which determine the participants in the playoffs, will be released next week.
LOGJAM AT THE TOP
Entering this weekend, there is a four-way tie for first place in the GAC between Ouachita, Henderson State, Harding, and Southeastern Oklahoma State. The Tigers have won three consecutive GAC titles, and five overall since the beginning of the league in 2011. Should Southeastern finish the year at No. 1, it would be the first time one of the three other teams mentioned have not captured the league’s championship.
THE LAST TIME VS. SAU
November 2, 2019 // Ouachita 38, SAU 21 // Murphy USA Classic // El Dorado
Ouachita out gained SAU 444-317. Brockton Brown had three rushing touchdowns. Allie Freeman continued his GAC record setting season by becoming the first player in the league to have 5,000 career all-purpose yards.
The Muleriders (3-4) opened the season with a pair of big wins over Northwestern Oklahoma State (32-13) on the road and Southwestern Oklahoma State (42-27) at home. Following a 37-6 loss to Harding, the Muleriders were poised to get a win over Henderson State, up 28-0 on the Reddies after the first quarter. However, HSU responded with 35 points in the second quarter and eventually won the shootout 56-49. The Muleriders then lost on the road to East Central (38-17) and at home to Southeastern Oklahoma State (38-24). Last week, SAU got back on the winning track by beating Arkansas Tech 34-17, highlighted by Jariq Scales’ 245 rushing yards on just 23 carries for an average of 10.7 yards per rush. SAU is led by first-year head coach Mike McCarty, who has been an assistant coach at various levels for 30 years, including stops in state at UCA and Arkansas State.
77th MEETING WITH THE MULERIDERS
Ouachita leads the all-time series against the Muleriders 41-34-1. It is the fourth longest rivalry for the Tigers behind Henderson State (93 games), Arkansas Tech (85 games), and Arkansas-Monticello (80). The Tigers have four in a row over SAU, and with a win this Saturday, would match the longest winning streak against the Muleriders in program history. Ouachita has won five in a row over SAU twice, 1912-27 and 1988-92.
RUN GAME STILL SHINES – RECORD WATCH
Ouachita’s running attack is still one of the best in the nation, but the Tigers fell to No. 3 in the country in the category following Kentucky State’s 626 rushing yards against Edward Waters this past Saturday. Harding leads the nation at 363.1 yards per game, followed by Kentucky State at 339.7 and Ouachita at 294.7. TJ Cole had another big game for the Tigers this past Saturday with 20 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He ranks fifth in the nation and first in the GAC with an average of 132.9 yards per game. Cole looks to become the 11th rusher in Ouachita history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a single season. He currently sits at 930 yards. In addition to Cole, Kendel Givens is on pace for a record-setting season in scoring. Givens leads the nation with 16 touchdowns. He is tied for 6th at Ouachita in single-season rushing touchdowns, and tied for 7th in single-season scoring with 102 points counting his three two-point conversions.
OUACHITA KEY TEAM STAT RANKINGS
2nd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in net punting (41.53 yard average)
3rd in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in interceptions thrown (1)
3rd in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in rush offense (294.7 yards per game)
3rd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in sacks allowed (0.43 allowed per game)
10th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in pass defense (138.3 yards allowed per game)
11th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in kickoff returns (25.92 yard average)
16th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in punt returns (16.67 yard average)
17th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in scoring offense (38 points per game)
20th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in scoring defense (17.6 points allowed per game)
OUACHITA KEY INDIVIDUAL STAT RANKINGS
TJ Cole – 5th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in rushing yards (930 total, 132.9 yards per game)
TJ Cole – 17th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in all-purpose yards (145.14 yards per game)
TJ Cole – 16th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in rush average (6.69 yards per carry)
Kendel Givens – 1st in NCAA, 1st in GAC in rushing touchdowns (16)
Kendel Givens – 1st in NCAA, 1st in GAC in scoring (14.6 points per game)
Kendel Givens – 1st in NCAA, 1st in GAC in total points scored (102)
Kendel Givens – 1st in NCAA, 1st in GAC in total touchdowns (16)
Xaylon Falls – One of three players in NCAA with two kickoff returns for touchdowns