FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas will face an in-state school for the first time since 1944 when the Razorbacks host Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a nonconference game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Saturday.
“Even as old as I am, I wasn’t born at that point,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman joked. “It’s a big deal. I know for years, they said it wasn’t good to play in-state schools, but it’s exciting for the state. UAPB plays hard. They've had some injuries, but I’m sure Doc (Gamble) will have them ready.”
Before dropping three straight games, Arkansas (4-3) was unbeaten and ranked as high as No. 8 in the AP Top 25. The Razorbacks have dropped out of the Top 25, but they can get back on track against the Golden Lions (1-5).
The Razorbacks did not play a game in Little Rock last season during the COVID-19 surge under a revised schedule that featured only SEC games. Playing a game in Little Rock will be a homecoming for a lot of Razorbacks who grew up in central Arkansas.
“I’ll get to see a lot of old friends I went to elementary school, junior high and high school with,” said junior safety Blair Simeon. “I still know quite a few people there. I know 14 or 15 players on the UAPB team.”
Simeon, who is from Pine Bluff and was a walk-on at Arkansas, said UAPB will present challenges for the Arkansas defense.
“They are a very athletic group,” said Blair. “They have great speed with their receivers. We just have to do a great job with the defense.”
UAPB (1-5) lost to Southern 34-7 last week after allowing 304 rushing yards. Kierre Crossley leads UAPB in rushing with 252 yards on 59 carries and five touchdowns. The Golden Lions will likely play both Skyler Perry and Xavier Vaughn at quarterback.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Arkansas was the home team against Texas A&M in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and this week they are the home team 200 miles from campus at War Memorial Stadium.
“You look at the schedule and it says H for home, but they’re on the road,” said Pittman. “I’ll say this: Having two games like this in the same year, it’s hard. If we could cut that down to one or so, it would be a lot better, but it is what it is. We’re going to embrace Little Rock.
“Some coaches would ask why are we going there, but not ours. We’re going there because the people in Little Rock want us to be there. We’re going to embrace this and we’re going over there to win.”
LIONS ROARED IN SPRING
In an abbreviated spring schedule last year because of COVID-19, the Golden Lions won the SWAC Western Division and advanced to the SWAC championship game, posting a 4-0 record before falling to Alabama A&M 40-33 on May 1.
The game will be a homecoming for a pair of Razorback brothers, Hayden and Hudson Henry, who are from Little Rock. Hayden ranks among the team leaders in tackles with 59 with 7.5 tackles for loss. The brothers have embraced playing together this season.
“In high school we thought maybe it could happen,” said Hudson Henry. “It’s a lot of fun to come to work with him every day.”
BURKS PILING UP NUMBERS
Arkansas junior receiver Treylon Burks moved into 10th place on the school’s all-time receiving list last Saturday against Auburn, when he had his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Burks has 38 catches for 628 yards and five touchdowns so far.
“He’s amazing,” said Pittman. “He’s a competitor and can catch anything that’s close to him. He just gets better every year.”
Pittman said safety Jalon Catalon’s shoulder surgery this week went well. Before the injury, Catalon ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 46 and had two interceptions. Pittman said he expects Catalon to make a full receovery and be back with the Razorbacks next season.