:Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; :Oct 15, 2006; :Sports; :27

Like it is

Arkansas-ASU would have to be better than this

Wally Hall

FAYETTEVILLE — It was not a scrimmage.

There were no green jerseys. Actually, Southeast Missouri State didn’t put up as much fight as the Arkansas Razorbacks’ second team would have.

The Redhawks played hard, never quit and whatever they were paid was not enough.

No matter how deep Houston Nutt went on the depth chart, he couldn’t level the playing field for the visitors.

The Redhawks were the party favors on a beautiful fall afternoon, and midway through the third quarter, many of the fans had gone looking for more action.

Not that there wasn’t plenty to cheer. There was supposed to be. Former quarterback Robert Johnson, who has shown nothing but class and dignity during his Razorbacks career, had his first catch as a receiver.

    Redshirt freshman running back Michael Smith had his first 100-yard rushing game. Felix Jones had another one. Those guys and Darren McFadden all averaged more than 10 yards per carry.

    Smith, Damian Williams and London Crawford scored their first touchdowns as a Razorback, and after all these years so did a Keith Jackson.

    Keith Jackson Jr. had an interception and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. His dad played for Oklahoma, where he was a two-time All-American.

    Clark Irwin saw his first action at quarterback, and even though he was playing with mostly thirdteamers and other walk-ons, he moved the team.

    The only people who didn’t play were the ones who are redshirting or were in the stands.

    Casey Dick saw his first extended action of the season and might have created a quarterback controversy.

    With 14:54 to play it was 63-7, and that’s the way it ended, but it wasn’t as close as the score.

    It was obvious why SEMO took this game — to take Arkansas money back to Missouri.

    Why the Razorbacks would schedule a team that plays on the same level as Central Arkansas, Division I-AA, is the question.

    The Razorbacks will not consider playing UCA because Frank Broyles has a policy that doesn’t allow the Hogs to schedule in-state opponents.

    Although there is an outside chance that could change.

    It is possible that if Mike Beebe becomes governor of Arkansas, he will try to get the legislature to force the Razorbacks to schedule in-state schools. After all, his alma mater is Arkansas State.

    Beebe attended the UA law school, but the ASU Indians have always been his team, as they should be.

    These days there seems to be more people in favor of the Razorbacks taking on the Indians, who travel to Auburn in a couple of weeks (for about $700,000).

    The Razorbacks are a great program, one that never will be challenged in Arkansas, but the UA is a school without a real rival.

    If the Razorbacks were mandated to play ASU, UA officials could charge $100 for a ticket and it would sell out. Even with a fair share to the Indians, the Hogs could have their biggest payday of the season.

    Whatever tickets the Hogs fans didn’t grab, ASU fans would.

    It would have to be a better game than what took place here Saturday.

    The Razorbacks didn’t dominate the Redhawks, they owned them.

    On the Hogs’ first play of the game, McFadden broke two tackles, bounced off a teammate and ended up in the end zone on a 52-yard run. For all practical purposes, the game was over, and there was still 57:16 to play.

    When it finally ended, there was much to be satisfied with, especially that the defense held the Redhawks to 144 yards and only 31 were on the ground.

    The Razorbacks went into their sixth game of the season having forced only one turnover, a fumble, but by the time this one finally ended they had their first three interceptions.

    As Houston Nutt and the team left the field, the students, who mostly remained in place the entire game, and the band sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

    Nutt turned 49 Saturday, and it was a glorious afternoon for a football game, even one that was not as close as the 63-7 score.