FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will open the 2022 football season at home on Saturday, Sept. 3, by hosting Cincinnati.
While Arkansas is coming off an impressive 9-4 season that saw them cap it off with a 24-10 victory over Penn State in the Outback Bowl they will face a tough opener for 2022. Cincinnati finished 13-1 and made it to the College Football Playoffs where they fell in the semifinals to Alabama 27-6.
Bleacher Report’s Brad Shepard picked 11 Way-Too-Early upset games for this fall. While I would tend to pick Arkansas over the Bearcats without calling it an upset, Shepard has the Razorbacks winning game. It’s one of his 11 upsets.
Here’s what Shepard had to say about the game and reasoning for his pick.
“Get ready for the Cincinnati Bearcats to not receive a ton of positive buzz entering the 2022 football season.
“After losing quarterback Desmond Ridder, running back Jerome Ford and defensive backs Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant, coach Luke Fickell’s team has so many holes to fill. But the Bearcats are a Group of Five powerhouse and a College Football Playoff team until they aren’t.
“Even so, the crash back to earth seems inevitable this season.
“Fickell is recruiting quality players, has a plan that has been proven out during his tenure in the Queen City and will be back in a big way. But the ’22 season is going to have some road bumps; Group of Five programs simply don’t reload like powerhouse programs across the country.
“One of those hiccups will come the opening weekend of the season in Razorback Stadium when they head to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas.
“If you want an SEC sleeper, look no further than the Hogs who, in year three under coach Sam Pittman, have a load of talent on both sides of the ball, led by KJ Jefferson. The signal-caller could wind up one of the biggest playmakers in college football under coordinator Kendal Briles, and this is going to be a big, national resume game.
“Arkansas still may be a rung below Alabama in the SEC West, but the Razorbacks can compete with Texas A&M and Ole Miss for that second spot in the division, and they will outclass Cincinnati talent-wise, setting up what could be a memorable year.”
In other upset picks involving SEC schools, Shepard picks Oregon over Georgia on Sept. 3, Arizona over Mississippi State on Sept. 10, Miami over Texas A&M on Sept. 17 and Tennessee over Florida on Sept. 24. Two other picks are Texas over Oklahoma on Oct. 8, involving two future SEC schools, and BYU, an Arkansas opponent this fall, over Baylor on Sept. 10.