Arkansas 2022 football game-by-game predictions: Here are our picks

Arkansas’ 2022 football season kicks off Saturday (2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN) against No. 22 Cincinnati. It’s the first game in a daunting schedule for the No. 23 Razorbacks, featuring a tough roster of non-conference opponents and four preseason top-25 teams.

Coach Sam Pittman is looking to improve on last season’s 9-4 record, and with veterans along the offensive line, in the secondary and at quarterback, the Razorbacks have a chance to do just that. Arkansas was selected to finish third in SEC West during league media days over the summer.

Here are our game-by-game predictions for Arkansas in 2022.

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September 3: No. 22 Cincinnati

Last season: Did not play. Cincinnati went 13-1 with a loss to Alabama in the college football playoff semifinals.The buzz: Cincinnati is coming off a historic season but has lost valuable personnel, including star QB Desmond Ridder. The Bearcats have retained a strong offensive line but have a defense full of new starters. The choice : Arkansas wins, 35-21.

September 10: South Carolina

Last season: Did not play. South Carolina went 7-6.The buzz: Two words: Spencer Rattler. The Gamecocks took the great quarterback out of the transfer portal, but after losing his starting job at Oklahoma last season thanks to a high volume of turnovers, Rattler could break badly or very, very well. Arkansas’ defense will be able to test its passing rush against what was a weak offensive line last season, and the secondary could wreak havoc on Rattler if his old habits aren’t eradicated.The choice : Arkansas wins, 31-20.

September 17: State of Missouri

Last season: Did not play. Missouri State went 8-2.The buzz: This game is circled on the schedule thanks to the return of former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. The Bears are among the best teams in the FCS and are looking to make a third straight FCS playoff appearance in 2022. Their offense includes the defending Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Jason Shelley and running back Jacardia Wright.The choice : Arkansas wins, 41-24.

Sept. 24: No. 7 Texas A&M

Last season: Arkansas won, 20-10. Texas A&M went 8-4.The buzz: Thanks to a star-studded recruiting class, Texas A&M is hot in 2022. There’s tons of talent up and down the roster, but the Aggies lack a proven quarterback. Running back Devon Achane is one of Texas A&M’s top offensive weapons, along with receiver Ainias Smith. New defensive coordinator DJ Durkin is set to replace a number of talented starters, making the Aggie defense a question mark heading into the season.The choice : Texas A&M wins, 24-21

Oct. 1: No. 1 Alabama

Last season: Alabama won, 42-35. The Crimson Tide went 13-2, falling to Georgia in the national championship.The buzz: After what some considered a low year by Alabama standards, Nick Saban is ready to reload and resume his dominance. Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is back, and running back Jahmyr Gibbs is one to watch. Add one of the best players in the nation to any position in linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and fellow linebacker Dallas Turner, and the Tide has a stellar defense to get the ball into Young’s capable hands.The choice : Alabama wins, 42-28.

October 8: in the State of Mississippi

Last season: Arkansas won, 31-28. Mississippi State went 7-6.The buzz: Mississippi State is full of veteran players, including quarterback Will Rogers, who thrived in Mike Leach’s air raid offense last season. Returning talent to slot receiver, linebacker and every position on the defensive line makes the Bulldogs dangerous. The secondary is a bit unheard of, and Arkansas receivers could exploit that weakness.The choice : Arkansas wins, 34-28

October 15 at BYU

Last season: Did not play. BYU went 10-3.The buzz: BYU is a constant threat outside of the Power Five, and the Cougars return 18 of 22 starters last season. Run defense is a concern for BYU in 2022, and the Razorbacks’ deep running room and quarterback KJ Jefferson could benefit. The choice : Arkansas wins, 31-28

October 29 in Auburn

Last season: Auburn won, 38-23. The Tigers went 6-7.The buzz: Auburn is full of uncertainty heading into the 2022 season. Much-discussed offseason coach Bryan Harsin named TJ Finley their starting quarterback, but Finley didn’t start until three games (all lost) last season. The Tigers have one of the best running backs in the league in Tank Bigsby, and Auburn’s secondary should be a strength. Additionally, Jordan-Hare Stadium is a notoriously difficult place to play.The choice : Auburn wins, 28-24.

November 5 vs. Liberty

Last season: Did not play. Liberty went 8-5.The buzz: 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 in the transfer gate this offseason, strengthening his offensive line, his receiving corps and giving him a new QB1 in former Baylor player Charlie Brewer. By the time Liberty arrives in Fayetteville, all of these new pieces will be well used to playing together.The choice : Arkansas wins, 42-24.

Nov. 12 vs. LSU

Last season: Arkansas won in overtime, 16-13. LSU went 6-7.The buzz: Expectations are high for LSU under new coach Brian Kelly, but the first year doesn’t look like the year the Tigers will come back strong. The quarterback position is a question mark, even though receiver Kayshon Boutte can cover a multitude of sins. The defense is made up of a number of transfers, including former Razorbacks Greg Brooks Jr. and Joe Foucha. The 2022 season will be solid for LSU, but it will be about building a foundation rather than toppling giants.The choice : Arkansas wins, 21-17.

Nov. 18 vs. No. 24 Ole Miss

Last season: Arkansas lost, 52-51. Ole Miss went 10-3.The buzz: Ole Miss has lost a lot of talent after his strong 2021 season, but coach Lane Kiffin has hit the transfer portal hard and reloaded with some equally talented pieces. Returning Jonathan Mingo is one to watch, as are running backs Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley IV. Like last season, this game is expected to be a Fayetteville shootout.The choice : Ole Miss wins, 48-41

November 25 in Missouri

Last season: Arkansas won, 34-17. Missouri went 6-7.The buzz: Missouri is largely expected to finish second to last in the SEC East. Much rests on promising but unproven quarterback Brady Cook, who has a veteran offensive line protecting him and a few talented receivers alongside him. Missouri lost the league’s leading running back, Tyler Badie. On defense, the Tigers are on their third defensive coordinator in as many years, which doesn’t bode well for a team that seems to be in perpetual rebuilding.The choice : Arkansas wins, 35-21.

Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks for the Southwest Times Record and USA Today Network. You can follow her on Twitter @christinalong00 or email him at [email protected]

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