The 2022 football season kicks off in Arkansas on Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) against 22nd seed Cincinnati. It’s the first game in a grueling schedule for the 23rd Razorbacks, including a roster of tough opponents without a conference and four pre-season teams from the top 25.
Coach Sam Bateman is looking to improve last season’s 9-4 record, and with veterans along the offensive line, in high school and in the quarterback, the Razorbacks have a chance to do just that. Arkansas was selected to finish third in the SEC West in the league’s media days over the summer.
Here are our game-by-game predictions for Arkansas in 2022.
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September 3rd: No. 22 Cincinnati
Last season: not played. Cincinnati went 13-1 with a loss to Alabama in the college football semifinals.commotion: Cincinnati is coming off a historic season but has lost a slew of staff, including QB star Desmond Ryder. The Bearcats have maintained a solid offensive line but have a defense full of rookies. pick: Arkansas win, 35-21.
September 10: South Carolina
Last season: not played. South Carolina went 7-6.commotion: Two words: Spencer Rattler. The Gamecocks got the big-name quarterback off the transfer gate, but after initially losing his job at Oklahoma last season thanks to a hefty turnover volume, Ratler could break badly or very well. The Arkansas defense will test its passing dash against what was a poor offensive line last season, and the sub could wreak havoc at Rattler if his old habits aren’t eradicated.pick: Arkansas wins, 31-20.
September 17: Missouri
Last season: not played. Missouri State won 8-2.commotion: This game has been circled on the calendar thanks to the return of former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. The Bears are among the top teams in the FCS and are looking to make their third consecutive playoff appearance in 2022. Their offensive line features Missouri Valley Conference Offensive quarterback Jason Shelley of the year and Kansas State transfers Jacardia Wright.pick: Arkansas wins, 41-24.
September 24: No. 7 Texas A&M
Last season: Arkansas won 20-10. Texas A&M went 8-4.commotion: With a star-studded recruiting class, Texas A&M comes with a lot of hype in 2022. There’s plenty of talent on the roster, yet the Aggies lack a quarterback. Running back Devon Achane is one of Texas A&M’s primary offensive weapons, as well as the Ainias Smith receiver. New defensive coordinator DJ Durkin must replace a number of talented starters, making Aggie’s defense a pre-season question mark.pick: Texas A&M win, 24-21
October 1: No. 1 Alabama
Last season: Alabama won, 42-35. Crimson Tide went 13-2, falling to Georgia in the National Championship.commotion: After what some considered a relegation year by Alabama standards, Nick Saban is ready to reload and return to dominance. Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is back, and Jahmyr Gibbs’ running transmission is one to watch. Add one of the nation’s best players of any position at linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and countryman Dallas Turner, and he has an excellent defense to get the ball back into Young’s capable hands.pick: Alabama win, 42-28.
October 8: In Mississippi
Last season: Arkansas won 31-28. Mississippi State went 7-6.commotion: Mississippi State is full of veteran players, including quarterback Will Rogers, who thrived on Mike Leach’s air raid attack last season. The return of talent at the hole receiver, linebacker and every position on the defensive line makes a dangerous Bulldog. The secondary stage is a bit unknown, and Arkansas receivers could exploit this weakness.pick: Arkansas wins 34-28
October 15 in BYU
Last season: not played. BYU went 10-3.commotion: BYU is a constant threat outside the Power Five, and the Cougars return 18 of 22 Novices from last season. Running defense is a concern for BYU in 2022, and the Razorbacks could benefit from deep running and quarterback KJ Jefferson. pick: Arkansas win, 31-28
October 29 in Auburn
Last season: Auburn won 38-23. Tigers went 6-7.commotion: Auburn is riddled with uncertainty ahead of the 2022 season. Coach Brian Harsin, the subject of unofficial discussion, named TJ Finley the quarterback, but Finlay started in just three games (all losses) last season. The Tigers have one of the best linebackers in the league at Tank Bigsby, and Auburn High School is expected to be a strong point. In addition, Jordan Hare Stadium is a difficult place to play.pick: Auburn win, 28-24.
November 5 vs Freedom
Last season: not played. Freedom went 8-5.commotion: Liberty, without quarterback Malik Willis, is a very different team than it was a year ago. But Flames coach Hugh Freeze has done a lot of work on the transfer gate this off-season, bolstering his offensive line, receiver and giving him a new QB1 in former Baylor player Charlie Brewer. By the time Liberty comes to Fayetteville, all of those new pieces will be used to playing together.pick: Arkansas wins 42-24.
November 12 vs. LSU
Last season: Arkansas won in overtime, 16-13. LSU went 6-7.commotion: Expectations are high for LSU under new coach Brian Kelly, but it doesn’t look like the first year will be the year the Tigers return. The quarterback’s position is a question mark, even though receiver Kayshon Boutte can cover many sins. The defense consists of a number of transfers, including former Razorbacks Greg Brooks Jr. and Joe Foucha. 2022 will be a strong season for LSU, but it will be about building a foundation rather than taking down the Giants.pick: Arkansas won 21-17.
November 18 vs. No. 24 Ole Miss
Last season: Arkansas lost, 52-51. Ole Miss went 10-3.commotion: The Ole Miss lost a lot of talent after her strong 2021 season, but coach Lynn Kevin hit the transfer gate hard and reloaded him with an absolutely talented bit. The return of Jonathan Mingo on a large scale is one well worth watching, as are the appearances of Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley IV. Like last season, this game has to be a penalty shootout in Fayetteville.pick: Ole Miss win, 48-41
November 25 in Missouri
Last season: Arkansas won 34-17. Missouri went 6-7.commotion: Missouri is largely expected to finish last in the Eastern SEC. There’s plenty of riding on promising but unproven quarterback Brady Cook, who has a veteran attacking streak protecting him and some talented receivers by his side. Missouri lost, Tyler Badie, the league’s major. In terms of defence, the Tigers are their third defensive coordinator in as many years, which doesn’t bode well for a team that appears to be in a state of perpetual rebuilding.pick: Arkansas win, 35-21.