Months of bickering finally came to a resolution – sort of – earlier this month when SEC presidents and chancellors voted to play an eight-game conference schedule in 2024, when Oklahoma and Texas join the league.
What they did was essentially punt the decision down the line, as the eight vs nine debate will eventually resume.
For ESPN, though, the goose had laid another golden egg. A temporary schedule means the SEC must start from scratch to determine opponents for the season after next. And what better way to reveal those selections than with an SEC Network special?
That’s just what they’re doing, with the eight opponents – along with home and away designations – set to be announced beginning at 6 p.m. CT Wednesday.
Until then, Best of Arkansas Sports decided to take a shot at picking the 2024 opponents for Arkansas football…
(UPDATE: The actual opponents have been announced. They can be found below our predictions.)
Predicting the 2024 Arkansas Football Road Opponents
This is the one game we know for sure. Like it or not, the “Battle Line Rivalry presented by Shelter Insurance” is the Razorbacks’ one protected game in an eight-game format. With the Tigers coming to Fayetteville this year, it’s safe to assume the 2024 matchup will be one of Arkansas’ four road games. The bigger question is whether or not the Razorbacks can finally do what they’ve failed to do in six previous trips to Columbia.
@ Texas A&M (at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
There is no guarantee this game gets played, but it’s probably not much of a stretch to imagine Hunter Yurachek is pushing strongly for it so the Aggies have to honor the final year of the contract for the Southwest Classic. This could be a way for the SEC to throw Arkansas a bone. Then again, maybe that’s faulty logic on our part. With no Texas A&M on the 2024 slate, the contract with AT&T Stadium would expire after this season, Yurachek said earlier this month, which means the Aggies would get to host the next matchup on campus.
In a nine-game format, Texas is expected to be one of Arkansas’ three permanent foes. The former SWC rivals won’t meet annually if the eight-game schedules continue, but one perk of the temporary setup for 2024 is these “secondary rivalries” can all happen for at least one year. Most fans will focus on the likes of Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia and Texas-Texas A&M, but the older generation remembers a time when Arkansas vs Texas was one of the biggest games of the year with national implications.
@ South Carolina
From 1992-2013, Arkansas and South Carolina met annually as permanent crossover opponents. Joining the SEC together, they were the new kids on the block, so the league paired them up. It made so much sense that when Missouri and Texas A&M joined two decades later, the SEC did the same thi…oh wait. Never mind. Anyways, the SEC will probably try to mix up the old “east” and “west” schools a bit and we already have Texas A&M above and three other current SEC West foes below. Arkansas was originally supposed to host Kentucky in 2024 and travel to Vanderbilt in 2025, so it only makes sense that South Carolina would get the nod instead.
Predicting the 2024 Arkansas Football Home Opponents
vs. Ole Miss
It would be a crime against college football if the Arkansas-Ole Miss series was halted. The two teams have played some wild games over the years and especially in recent seasons. It will reportedly continue with the Rebels as the third of Arkansas’ permanent opponents in a nine-game format, so it’s a fair assumption that Ole Miss will be included on the 2024 temporary slate. That’s good for all parties involved.
This is the game many Arkansas football fans would like to return to its rightful place on Thanksgiving weekend. That likely won’t happen, but keeping the Arkansas-LSU matchup on the schedule seems like it’d make sense for the league. More times than not, it’s a competitive game – the last three have been decided by exactly three points – and there’s a big trophy involved. With the Razorbacks heading to Baton Rouge this season, we’ve got them set to return to Fayetteville in 2024.
Once a vocal supporter of nine-game conference schedules, Nick Saban recently changed his tone when he learned that Alabama’s permanent opponents would be Auburn, LSU and Tennessee. Apparently that’s too tough for the Crimson Tide. The SEC probably won’t want to ruffle his feathers, so Arkansas will probably remain on their schedule in 2024 as one of its easier – sorry, a 16-game winning streak doesn’t lie – SEC foes.
The last two times the SEC created temporary schedules, in 2013 (when Missouri/Texas A&M joined) and 2020 (the pandemic), Arkansas was shipped off to Gainesville. This time around could make it three for three, but surely the SEC wouldn’t send the Razorbacks to Florida in back-to-back years. Or maybe it would. We’re giving the league the benefit of the doubt and believe it will use this opportunity to even things out after three of the last four meetings between the two schools were at The Swamp.
2024 Non-Conference Slate
Aug. 31 – vs. UAPB
Sept. 7 – at Oklahoma State
Sept. 14 – vs. UAB
Nov. 23 – vs. Louisiana Tech
As a reminder, the four non-conference games listed above are still on the schedule and are the only games with known dates. Thank goodness the SEC didn’t go to a nine-game slate. Could you imagine having to decide between UAB and Louisiana Tech? We all know they’d have to protect the UAPB game – can’t get rid of the FCS rent-a-win, especially an in-state one. Of course, they might have compromised and canceled/rescheduled Oklahoma State.
Instead, the Cowboys satisfy the SEC’s requirement of playing at least one non-conference game against a Power Five or major independent team. It’s unknown whether or not that requirement would remain in place if the conference adopts a nine-game slate, but the Razorbacks do have some big games already on the schedule: Notre Dame in 2025 and 2028, Utah in 2026 and 2029, Oklahoma State in 2024, 2027, 2032 and 2033, and Texas Tech in 2030 and 2031.
2024 SEC Opponents for Arkansas Football
The opponents and locations for Arkansas’ eight SEC games in 2024 were announced Wednesday night. The dates will be released at a later time.
|Texas||Texas A&M (in Arlington)|
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