The Arkansas Razorbacks will kick start their 2022 campaign tomorrow afternoon by hosting a worthy adversary in the Cincinnati Bearcats. Against all odds the Bearcats were able to claw their way into the College Football Playoffs last year, trailblazing a path for future non Power 5 teams to make the tournament in the process. While that team solidified itself as one of the best teams in the country, THIS team is nowhere as talented as last year’s. The Bearcats lost a program record 9 players to the NFL draft including standouts like Sauce Gardner, Desmond Ridder, Alec Pierce, and Myjai Sanders.
While the Bearcats’ recruiting class did rank in the top 25 according to multiple sources; the lost of that many NFL caliber players is not easily overcame, especially in the first game of the season. In contrast the Razorbacks are returning several of their key players from last year’s Bowl winning team. Star quarterback for the Arkansas Razorbacks, KJ Jefferson, is coming off a phenomenal season. In 2021, Jefferson posted a 9-4 record including a win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl. He also posted a completion percentage of 67.3 percent, 2676 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns to only 4 interceptions.
The Razorbacks will also be returning a majority of their starting offensive line that helped the Hogs rush for a stellar 223 yards per game last year.
On the defensive side of the ball the Hogs are returning NFL prospects Bumper Pool and Jalen Catalon to round out the defensive unit which should still be quite formidable. While anything can happen during the course of a game the Razorbacks are the more talented of the two teams from top to bottom and the difference in talent level especially along the offensive and defensive lines will prove to much for the Bearcats to overcome. Cincinnati allowed 149 rushing yards per game last season and was obliterated by Alabama on the ground to the tune of 301 rushing yards in the Cotton Bowl. The Razorbacks’ rushing offense was even more potent than Bama’s, finishing 9th in the entire FBS and 1st in the SEC.
The Razorbacks will also be returning 3 players who rushed for over 500 yards last season in Jefferson, Johnson, and Sanders.
Due to their ability to control both lines of scrimmage I am expecting the Razorbacks to start their season off with a bang with a 30-14 win over the Bearcats.