football Edit

Historic matchup awaits Arkansas, UAPB at War Memorial Stadium

Arkansas will play an in-state foe for the first time since World War II on Saturday.
Arkansas will play an in-state foe for the first time since World War II on Saturday. (Nick Wenger)

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FAYETTEVILLE — When Arkansas and Arkansas-Pine Bluff kickoff inside of War Memorial Stadium on Saturday, it will be the Hogs’ first time competing against an in-state squad on the gridiron since the 1944 season.

In that matchup, Arkansas squashed Arkansas-Monticello — then known as Arkansas A&M — 41-0 in Fayetteville. For context, that game was played the same year that United States and allied troops invaded Normandy during World War II.

“Even as old as I am, I wasn't born at that point, so I think it’s a big deal,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said. “I’m excited to get over to Little Rock and I’m sure there’ll be a lot of fans over there. I haven’t said much about the history of it, but 1944 is a long time ago.”

During the 1943 season, Arkansas A&M had no team, no uniforms and no football. When UA officials came calling, begging for an opponent to play, the Navy V-12 program at A&M asked for all members of the unit with football experience to step forward.

“We went out in shorts and tennis shoes and made up six plays we would use,” said Charles ‘Pinky’ Steed, who was enrolled as a Marine officer candidate at A&M. “We practiced two days, got on a bus and spent the night in Russellville on Friday, and got to Razorback Stadium at noon Saturday.”

After borrowing the Razorbacks’ road pants and jerseys (because they had no uniforms), Arkansas A&M defeated the Hogs 20-12. That marked the last time Arkansas lost to an in-state opponent.

Though Saturday will be the first ever meeting between UAPB and the Razorbacks on the football field, the two schools have met in other sports throughout the years.

Most recently, the Arkansas volleyball team swept the Golden Lions on Aug. 27. The Razorback baseball team swept UAPB in a two-game midweek series this past April, winning by a combined score of 38-5, and the women’s basketball team defeated the Golden Lions 86-52 in December 2020.

Since the arrival of Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek, the old ways of not playing in-state opponents has been thrown out the window. Last season, Arkansas competed against Natural State teams in baseball, softball, women’s basketball and women’s soccer.

The notion of in-state competition seems to have paid off well in other sports, but Pittman said it’s different for football.

“I think it’s smart,” Pittman said. “I don’t want to help them and then they beat our tails, you know. But I do, I think it’s smart. You always risk taking a risk as the head coach at a major university by playing anybody in the state. It’s a risk, but I think that’s smart.”

Saturday’s game will be just the second time Arkansas has ever played an in-state team in Little Rock. The only other time was when they defeated Hendrix 20-7 on Nov. 26, 1927.

UAPB should give the Hogs an opportunity to get right before their open date. The Golden Lions are 1-6 on the season and are winless in SWAC play after playing in the conference championship following their spring season.

“They’ve got speed, they’ve got enough size, and they were in the championship last year,” Pittman said. “For whatever reason, they haven’t won games quite like they did in the spring. … I think they’ll be jacked up and ready to go. I’m positive they will be.”

The Golden Lions are converting just over 26 percent of their third downs on the year and they have been outscored by opponents 214-116.

“They play hard,” Pittman said. “They’re not as big as some teams we’ve played and things of that nature.”

Arkansas will be looking for its fifth win of the season when they take the field against UAPB at 11 a.m. CT Saturday. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.