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Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Football Prediction and Preview

Bearcats, Razorbacks hook up for intriguing season-opening Top 25 matchup.

A year after clawing their way to enough respect to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff, the Cincinnati Bearcats will get an opportunity to pick up a win against a ranked SEC opponent on the road to start the 2022 college football season. Cincinnati visits the Arkansas Razorbacks in a Top 25 matchup in Week 1 that looks to offer a fun game to be paying attention to this weekend.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 1

No. 23 Cincinnati at No. 19 Arkansas

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Arkansas -6.5

When Cincinnati Has the Ball

The Bearcats have a new starting quarterback to replace Desmond Ridder, but head coach Luke Fickell has been reluctant to share who it will be. Ben Bryant or Evan Prater will get the nod against the Razorbacks, with that decision not likely to be known until kickoff, officially. Whoever it is will be protected by another strong offensive line built for these types of matchups. Every starter on the offensive line weighs in over 300 pounds, giving Cincinnati the rare blend of size and stability that it takes to go up against a power conference program.

When Arkansas Has the Ball

Arkansas has a game-changing quarterback in KJ Jefferson, and he will be able to contribute to the ground game with his ability to adapt on the fly. Jefferson will join running back Raheim Sanders in an offensive attack that will have to work to sustain drives against a defensively sound Cincinnati program. But in this game, patience will pay off for the results on the ground.

Final Analysis

This should be a good game from start to finish, and Cincinnati will have multiple opportunities to make a nice early statement. But Arkansas is coming off an impressive season of their own, and head coach Sam Pittman has injected the kind of positive energy that has worked for the Razorbacks. Arkansas makes some of the game's biggest plays in the first half but has to hold off a furious rally by Cincinnati in the second half to preserve a win.

Prediction: Arkansas 24, Cincinnati 23

Podcast: Week 1 Preview and Predictions + Betting and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, on TikTok, and Like him on Facebook.