Arkansas Football Schedule 2022: Full Previews of Every Game

The third time's a charm? If only.

photo credit: Nick Wenger

Sam Pittman wasted no time touting the Arkansas football schedule as the toughest in the country once again in 2022.

Speaking at the annual SEC Media Days event in Atlanta last month, the Razorbacks’ third-year coach reminded reporters that even after a 9-4 season, nothing would come easy.

“It’s the third year in a row that we’ve been awarded the toughest schedule in college football,” Pittman said. “All 12 of this year’s opponents made postseason play last year.”

Just a week after he made that claim, it was backed up by a third party, as ESPN’s Chris Low declared the Razorbacks’ schedule is the toughest in the Power Five.

Playing in college football’s best division, the SEC West, means Arkansas will always have a tough schedule, but the statistic mentioned by Pittman makes this year’s slate particularly challenging. In the Hogs’ case, there’s nothing remotely charming about the third time.

The Razorbacks are set to host Cincinnati, Liberty and Missouri State, plus travel to BYU. Even though none of those schools are currently members of a Power Five conference (Cincinnati and BYU join the Big 12 next year), they are among the strongest teams at their respective levels.

It’s such a daunting football schedule that one national reporter asked Pittman, one of the most likeable coaches in college football, “Who is doing this to you?” The question elicited a smile from the coach.

“Schedules are scheduled out so many years in advance,” Pittman said. “Nobody knew — maybe they did — but Cincinnati, when they were scheduled, I know they weren’t in the College Football Playoff. BYU has always been really, really a good program, but they’re at the top of their game.”

Even though he won’t get much of a chance to catch his breath during the season, Pittman said he was “excited” about the non-conference foes on the 2022 Arkansas football schedule.

However, as always, he was honest with the media about his hopes for the Razorbacks’ future slates.

“One point I’m hoping it will ease up a little bit,” Pittman said. “But right now it hasn’t.”

Printable Arkansas Football Schedule

DateOpponentLocationTime (CT)TV/Results
Saturday, Sept. 3CincinnatiFayetteville2:30 p.m.ESPN
Saturday, Sept. 10South Carolina*Fayetteville11 a.m.ESPN
Saturday, Sept. 17Missouri StateFayetteville6 p.m.ESPN+/SECN+
Saturday, Sept. 24Texas A&M*Arlington, TexasTBATBA
Saturday, Oct. 1Alabama*FayettevilleTBATBA
Saturday, Oct. 8Mississippi State*Starkville, Miss.TBATBA
Saturday, Oct. 15BYUProvo, UtahTBATBA
Saturday, Oct. 22OPENOPENOPENOPEN
Saturday, Oct. 29Auburn*Auburn, Ala.TBATBA
Saturday, Nov. 5LibertyFayettevilleTBATBA
Saturday, Nov. 12LSUFayettevilleTBATBA
Saturday, Nov. 19Ole Miss*FayettevilleTBATBA
Friday, Nov. 25Missouri*Columbia, Mo.2:30 p.m.CBS
*SEC opponent

2022 Arkansas Football Schedule Preview

Arkansas vs. Cincinnati

Date: Sept. 3

Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)

Ranking: No. 22 (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 59.6% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: Arkansas, -7 | O/U 52 (FanDuel)

Cincinnati has not lost a regular-season game since before the pandemic, winning back-to-back American Athletic Conference titles, and is coming off a year in which it earned the first ever College Football Playoff bid by a Group of Five team. The clock struck midnight against Alabama, though, as the Bearcats lost the Cotton Bowl 27-6.

Even though they are replacing many of their best players — including nine NFL Draft picks, highlighted by fourth-overall pick Sauce Gardner and quarterback Desmond Ridder — it should still be a tough first matchup on the Arkansas football schedule. In fact, Cincinnati and Arkansas are No. 22 and No. 23, respectively, in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll. If both schools are ranked in the preseason AP Poll, it’ll be the first top-25 season opener for Arkansas since 1980.

The quarterback battle to replace Ridder is between sophomore Evan Prater and senior Ben Bryant. A former Ohio Mr. Football and four-star recruit who played his high school ball just down the road, Prater is one of the biggest recruits Cincinnati has ever landed and is more of a dual-threat option. Bryant, on the other hand, is more of a traditional pocket passer who began his career with the Bearcats before transferring to Eastern Michigan, where he threw for 3,121 yards last year, and then transferring back. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the two quarterbacks are rotating reps each day in fall camp.

Arkansas vs. South Carolina

Date: Sept. 10

Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)

Ranking: Receiving votes (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 72.2% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: TBA

Much like Arkansas in 2020, South Carolina exceeded expectations under a first-year head coach last season by earning a bowl invite. The Gamecocks won that game, beating North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, to finish 7-5. Now, they figure to be even better going into Shane Beamer’s second season at the helm.

It should help that South Carolina bolstered its quarterback room – and several other positions – via the portal. Instead of trotting out a former graduate assistant, as they did last year with Zeb Noland, the Gamecocks now have former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler in the fold. He was ultimately replaced by Caleb Williams, but he entered last season as a Heisman Trophy frontrunner and potential No. 1 pick for the NFL Draft.

Arkansas vs. Missouri State

Date: Sept. 17

Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 6 p.m. CT (ESPN+/SECN+)

Ranking: No. 5 in FCS (STATS Perform Top 25)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 99.4% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: TBA

An SEC team playing an FCS team rarely, if ever, moves the needle. This is the exception, as third-year Missouri State head coach Bobby Petrino will lead his new squad into his old stomping grounds. Petrino, of course, was the Razorbacks’ head coach from 2008-11 and led them to their lone BCS bowl game before the controversial end to his tenure in Fayetteville.

Beyond the obvious storylines, though, the Bears are an FCS program on the rise. They nearly upset a top-25 Oklahoma State team and eventual FCS national champion North Dakota State on the road last season and earned a bid to the FCS Playoffs for the second straight year. It’s a remarkable turnaround considering Missouri State hadn’t been to the playoffs in 30 years prior to Petrino’s arrival and went just 1-10 the year before he was hired.

The Bears are expected to be even better in 2022, checking in at No. 5 in the preseason FCS poll behind only traditional powers North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Montana and Montana State. They return 17 starters, including quarterback and reigning MVFC Offensive Player of the Year Jason Shelley. He accounted for nearly 3,800 yards and 32 touchdowns last year.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M

Date: Sept. 24

Location: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: TBA

Ranking: No. 7 (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 39.8% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: Texas A&M, -6.5 (FanDuel)

After nine years of finding creative ways to lose to Texas A&M, Arkansas finally got over the hump and beat the Aggies last season. To make it two straight years, the Razorbacks will have to beat a much different team. Most notably, quarterback Zach Calzada — who led Texas A&M to a win over Alabama two weeks after losing to Arkansas — has transferred out (more on him later).

There’s now a three-man quarterback battle between Haynes King, Max Johnson and Conner Weigman in College Station. King opened last year as the starter before an injury, Johnson transferred in from LSU and Weigman is a heralded five-star freshman. Of course, the Aggies have plenty of talent, having signed four straight top-10 classes highlighted by the No. 1 class in the most recent cycle.

Texas A&M made headlines last month when star wide receiver Ainias Smith was arrested on DWI and weapons charges just ahead of his scheduled appearance at SEC Media Days, leading to speculation that he might be suspended for the Arkansas game. However, his suspension didn’t last very long because the charges were dropped and he’s now back with the team.

Arkansas vs. Alabama

Date: Oct. 1

Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: TBA

Ranking: No. 1 (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 12.0% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: Alabama, -17 (FanDuel)

The good news is that Alabama lost seven players to the NFL Draft this offseason and must replace virtually all of its wide receivers. The bad news is that it returns the Heisman Trophy winner and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year (who finished fifth in the Heisman voting) while also adding another heralded recruiting class and a transfer haul that included three preseason first-team All-SEC selections.

On top of those players, the Crimson Tide are still led by arguably the greatest coach of all-time in Nick Saban. However, Arkansas went into Tuscaloosa, Ala., last year and hung with them for four quarters. Now the Razorbacks will get to welcome Alabama to Fayetteville with a shot to snap their 15-game losing streak in the series.

Assuming Bryce Young plays in the game, it’ll mark the seventh time in school history that Arkansas will play someone after he won the Heisman Trophy. The Razorbacks are 0-6 in the previous matchups, with the latest being a 45-33 loss to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in 2013.

Arkansas vs. Mississippi State

Date: Oct. 8

Location: Davis Wade Stadium (Starkville, Miss.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: TBA

Ranking: Receiving votes (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 39.3% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: TBA

Led by a coach many believed to be a candidate at Arkansas when Pittman was hired, Mississippi State is entering Year 3 under Mike Leach and his air raid system. The Bulldogs won seven games last season before losing to Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl. One of their five regular-season losses came in Fayetteville, when Dominique Johnson scored the game-winning touchdown with 21 seconds left and Mississippi State missed a field goal as time expired.

Charles Cross, a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft, is gone from the offensive line, but the Bulldogs do return the most accurate passer in college football. Will Rogers completed an FBS-high 73.9 percent of his passes for 4,739 yards, 36 touchdowns and nine interceptions last year and is now going into his third season in Leach’s system.

Arkansas vs. BYU

Date: Oct. 15

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium (Provo, Utah)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: TBA

Ranking: Receiving votes (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 53.6% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: TBA

As if the season opener against Cincinnati wasn’t enough, Arkansas will hit the road to play another powerhouse program outside of the Power Five in 2022. BYU is 21-4 over the last two seasons, finishing inside the top 25 each year, and they return 18 of 22 starters from last year’s 10-win team.

Led by veteran quarterback Jaren Hall and one of the best offensive lines in the country, the Cougars are once again projected to be a preseason top-25 team. Throw in the fact that the game is on the road and at a stadium 4,649 feet above sea level (much higher than Razorback Stadium’s SEC-high 1,332 feet), and it’s plain to see there’s simply no break in the Arkansas football schedule — even for a non-conference game before an open date.

Arkansas vs. Auburn

Date: Oct. 29

Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn, Ala.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: TBA

Ranking: Receiving votes (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 30.1% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: TBA

The last time Arkansas visited Jordan-Hare Stadium, *that* play happened — you don’t need to be reminded of the details. When the two teams met in Fayetteville last year, the Razorbacks briefly took the lead in the third quarter before the Tigers pulled away for a 38-23 win behind a great performance from Bo Nix.

The former five-star quarterback is gone, though, and his replacement is still up in the air. Having survived a coup to get to Year 2, Bryan Harsin will likely choose between returning quarterback T.J. Finley (3 starts last year), Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada and Oregon transfer Robby Ashford. He has not put out a set deadline to name a starter, but said he’s previously announced his starter about 10 days out from the first game.

Auburn will also have a new-look defensive line, as eight defensive linemen entered the portal following last season.

Arkansas vs. Liberty

Date: Nov. 5

Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: TBA

Ranking: Unranked (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has an 84.1% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: TBA

Likely the second-easiest opponent on Arkansas’ schedule, Liberty is coming off a season in which it went 8-5 and received top-25 votes most of the year, plus it is just two years removed from being ranked No. 17 in the final 2020 AP Poll. The Flames are also coached by Hugh Freeze, who went 2-3 against the Razorbacks during his time at Ole Miss.

Liberty returns only seven starters this year, though, with quarterback Malik Willis being the biggest departure. That said, Freeze will have another talented, Power Five transfer at his disposal with the addition of Charlie Brewer. The Texas native was at Utah last season, but began his career at Baylor and was even the 2017 Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. He’ll have last year’s leading receiver, Demario Douglas (52 rec., 701 yds., 6 TD), and an FCS All-American transfer, Caleb Snead, as prime targets out of the gate. 

Arkansas vs. LSU

Date: Nov. 12

Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: TBA

Ranking: Receiving votes (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 45.8% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: Arkansas, -2.5 (FanDuel)

The teams no longer play on Black Friday, but that hasn’t stopped the Battle for the Golden Boot from being any less entertaining. Just last season, Arkansas won a night game in Death Valley on an overtime field goal that inspired a “griddy” dance from Cam Little. The year before that, the Tigers blocked a last-second field goal to preserve a win in Fayetteville.

Now with Brian Kelly at the helm, LSU looks much different after bringing in a bunch of transfers. Included among that group were Arkansas starting defensive backs and Louisiana natives Greg Brooks Jr. and Joe Foucha. Of course, the Razorbacks landed a pair of transfers from LSU themselves, nabbing cornerback Dwight McGlothern and defensive end Landon Jackson from the Tigers.

When the preseason Coaches Poll came out and LSU found itself fifth among teams in the “receiving votes” section, it marked the first time since 2000 – prior to Nick Saban’s first season – that it was left out of the preseason top 25 in that particular poll.

Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

Date: Nov. 19

Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: TBA

Ranking: No. 24 (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 50.3% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: TBA

Perhaps the wildest series in college football over the past couple of decades, Arkansas and Ole Miss played another classic down in Oxford, Miss., last year. The Rebels ultimately won the shootout 52-51 after stopping a two-point conversion with no time on the clock on their way to a 10-win season that earned them a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl (loss to Baylor in the Sugar Bowl).

Going into Year 3 under Lane Kiffin, expectations are once again pretty high for Ole Miss. The big question, like several teams on the Arkansas football schedule, is at quarterback. The Rebels signed USC transfer Jaxson Dart from the portal and he’s battling Luke Altmyer, who served as Matt Corral’s backup last year. It’s also worth noting that Ole Miss had to replace both of its coordinators this offseason.

Arkansas vs. Missouri

Date: Nov. 25

Location: Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium (Columbia, Mo.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 2:30 p.m. CT (CBS)

Ranking: Unranked (USA Today Coaches Poll)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 64.6% chance to win

Odds/Betting Line: TBA

Arkansas will return to the site of KJ Jefferson’s coming out party to end the 2022 regular season. Starting in place of an injured Feleipe Franks, he nearly led the Razorbacks to a dramatic win over Missouri two years ago, but the Tigers won on a last-second field goal. Instead, Jefferson had to wait until last year to help Arkansas snap its five-game losing streak in the Battle Line Rivalry.

It’s shaping up to be a critical third season for head coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who happens to be an Arkansas native, as he’s posted back-to-back .500 records in the regular season. Missouri will have to replace All-SEC running back Tyler Badie, as well as break in a new quarterback after Connor Bazelak transferred out.

There appear to be four players battling it out at quarterback. Tyler Macon and Brady Cook each started a game for the Tigers last season, while Jack Abraham is a transfer who started three seasons at Southern Miss before transferring to Mississippi State and missing most of last year with an injury. The fourth option is herald true freshman Sam Horn, who had to turn down MLB Draft opportunities just to make it to campus.

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) Projections

GameArkansas’ Chance of Winning
vs. Cincinnati59.6%
vs. South Carolina72.2%
vs. Missouri State99.4%
*vs. Texas A&M39.8%
vs. Alabama12.0%
at Mississippi State39.3%
at BYU53.6%
at Auburn30.1%
vs. Liberty84.1%
vs. LSU45.8%
vs. Ole Miss50.3%
at Missouri64.6%

Using the FPI’s game-by-game projections above, you can calculate how likely it is for Arkansas to finish with every possible record (from 12-0 to 0-12).

RecordLikelihood
12-00.016%
11-10.28%
10-21.95%
9-37.21%
8-416.42%
7-524.39%
6-624.25%
5-716.16%
4-87.07%
3-91.93%
2-100.30%
1-110.019%
0-120.00011%

***

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