The first week of the college football season is headlined by Notre Dame vs Ohio State and Oregon vs Georgia but week one has other premier matchups. The Cincinnati Bearcats will travel to Fayetteville Arkansas to face the Arkansas Razorbacks in week one which is why this game is the subject of today’s 99 Things. Cincinnati is coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoffs. Arkansas is coming off their best season in recent memory after winning nine games. The two programs are looking for a marque win to start off their season.
Luke Fickell and the Bearcats were the first group of five team to make the College Football Playoffs. A loss to Alabama ended their season. The Bearcats will be replacing their core of players. Former quarterback Desmond Ridder was a two-time AAC Offensive Player of the Year but is in the NFL now. Ben Bryant and Evan Prater are competing to take Ridder’s spot. The Bearcats also must replace starting running back Jerome Ford. Ford rushed for 1319 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Ryan Montgomery and former LSU running back Corey Kiner are expected to take Ford’s spot in the offense.
The Bearcat defense will be looking to replace a few key defenders. Defensive backs Sauce Gardner and Coby Bryant are off to the NFL after stellar college careers. Arquon Bush is a senior who will be expected to step up and lead the secondary. Busch had 40 tackles and three interceptions while primarily playing the nickle position for the Bearcats. The strength of the defense will be the defensive line. Malik Vann, Jowon Briggs and Jabari Taylor bring a wealth of experience. Each of them recorded multiple sacks and at least 4.0 tackles for loss last season.
The Arkansas offense is centered around quarterback KJ Jefferson (We preview Arkansas a few weeks back). Jefferson is one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC and is dynamic with his arm and legs. He threw for 2,676 yards, with 21 touchdowns and four interceptions while also rushing for 664 yards. Some would consider Jefferson to be a dark horse Heisman candidate. Warren Thompson and Jadon Haselwood are expected to replace the production of Treylon Burks. Thompson led all returning receivers with 304 yards while Haselwood spent last season with Oklahoma catching six touchdowns.
The Arkansas defense is a mixture of returning players and key transfers. One of the key transfers is former Alabama linebacker Drew Sanders. Sanders is a former five star linebacker who transferred from Alabama in search of playing time. He suffered an injury last season which resulted in him falling on the depth chart. Sanders registered 24 tackles and one sack last season for the Crimson Tide. Linebacker Bumper Pool is likely to be one of the best defenders for the Razorbacks after leading the team in tackles last season. Pool finished the 2021 season with 125 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss.
The matchup between the Razorbacks and Bearcats is slated to kickoff at 3:30 on September 3rd. Sportsbooks currently have Arkansas as a 7 point favorite. The line is likely to move before the game starts. If I were forced to make a pick, I would recommend our readers take Cincinnati to cover but take Arkansas to win. Make sure to have a multiple TVs ready to go at the start of week one because we have a plethora of quality matchups deserving our eyes.