The Razorbacks and Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions will take part in a historic in-state football matchup Saturday in Little Rock. Arkansas has not played an in-state opponent in football since 1944, and has never played UAPB.
The Hogs will attempt to rebound from a three-game losing streak and earn their fifth win of the season going into a bye week.
UAPB is trying to end its own losing streak. The Golden Lions beat Lane in their season opener but haven’t been able to find the win column since.
It has been a disappointing season after the Golden Lions made it to the Southwestern Atlantic Conference Championship last year.
“They’ve lost some games this year, but I’m going to have (our team) ready, I’m positive,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said Monday.
Arkansas will be without redshirt sophomore safety Jalen Catalon for the second week, after he underwent season-ending surgery on his shoulder this week.
The defense has been hurting Arkansas during the losing streak, allowing nearly 42 points per game. The Razorbacks allowed just 58 points, 14.5 per game, in their four wins combined.
The offense has been playing well this season, averaging 31 points and 460 yards per game. In non-conference matchups, the Hogs have averaged 41 points and 492 yards per contest.
The rushing attack has led the way with 243 yards per game and 16 touchdowns. Six different Razorbacks have run the ball in for a touchdown, and five Hogs have run for over 150 yards, including three for over 350.
Junior running back Trelon Smith leads the team with 435 yards, and he has found the end zone four times. Freshman Raheim “Rocket” Sanders is right behind him with 388 yards, and redshirt freshman Dominique Johnson leads all running backs with 6.6 yards per carry and is tied with Smith with four touchdowns.
“I don’t think we get Dominique Johnson the ball enough,” Pittman said Monday. “Every time he runs the football, good things seem to happen. To me, we’re probably going to double his load from what we've been giving him. He’s proven that he’s a really good player.”
The Golden Lions will have their hands full trying to fend off the Razorback offense. They are surrendering 33 points a game to non-Power Five teams.
Arkansas’ defense will likely give the UAPB offense fits. Quarterback Skyler Perry has struggled this season, completing under 50% of his passes, while throwing four interceptions and two touchdowns.
Starting running back Kierre Crossly has averaged 4.3 yards per attempt and has five scores on the year. Kayvon Britton is the other primary back for Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and he has averaged four yards per carry.
“They do so many things,” Pittman said. “They play two quarterbacks. They try to block every single punt, which is scary. They play hard. They play really hard. They’ve got some speed.”
ESPN’s Power Football Index gives the Razorbacks a 99.8% chance to win, but Pittman is not taking UAPB lightly.
“The plan is to go play as good as we can,” Pittman said. “We’re going in like it’s going to be a barn-burner. We’re going in like it’s going to be a really competitive game.”
UAPB will get its shot at the Hogs at 11 a.m. Saturday in War Memorial Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.