As the start of the 2022 College football season approaches, Arkansas fans are optimistic that this could be another memorable season. Arkansas finished last season 9-4 with a dominant 24-10 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl. Despite Arkansas’ incredibly tough schedule this season, there is still a sense of confidence among the players, coaches, and fans. It all starts with head coach Sam Pittman, who has instilled pride in the program and a proud Arkansas fan base who deserves to see a good product on the field. Pittman has his team preseason ranked #19 in the AP Poll in his third season at the helm.
On ESPN, #19 Arkansas will open the season, hosting the #23 Cincinnati Bearcats in Fayetteville on September 3rd at 2:30 pm. The Bearcats fell to Alabama 27-6 in the College Football Playoff last year in their best season in program history. Most people are not expecting that level of success this year from the Bearcats, but something is specific. They have a great head coach in Luke Fickell, who will have his team ready to play. Even the most optimistic of Arkansas fans know this, and you can bet Sam Pittman and his players do.
Cincinnati lost a lot of players from last year’s team, most notably quarterback Desmond Ridder, who is now in the NFL. Arkansas returns their stud Quarterback KJ Jefferson who many people are high on but still has plenty to prove. Arkansas will have to find similar products in the passing game since their star wide receiver Treylon Burks is now in the NFL. Arkansas added Jadon Haselwood from Oklahoma and Matt Landers from Toledo in the offseason through the transfer portal to help make up for Burks’ absence.
Now my thoughts on the game:
I think this will be more of a defensive game with fewer splash plays by either offense. Arkansas has the clear advantage at the Quarterback position you would have to assume as of right now. KJ Jefferson is experienced, and he has more room to improve. Arkansas will most likely have to win this game on the ground behind a solid offensive line. If Arkansas can establish a stable running game, they should be able to dictate the tempo and take the win. With this being the season’s first game, I do not expect either team to look crisp. As is usually the case, the defense that forces the most turnovers will give their team the best shot to win. Cincinnati knows that any slight chance they have at getting back to the CFP this year rides on this game so that they will give Arkansas their best shot.
I think Arkansas will win in a close one, 27-20.