Arkansas football 2022 season prediction, preview, awards, bowl game

Sam Pittman has the Arkansas football program in its best spot in ages entering his third year.

Sam Pittman is as important to the Arkansas football team as the Walton Family is to Wal-Mart.

A match made in Hog Heaven, the former Razorbacks offensive line coach returned to the northwest corner of the state to lead the flagship university’s beloved football team back to the promised land. It had been a long time since Houston went Nutts, Bobby fell of his hog, and 300 pounds of Iowa meat sweated its way out of town before Fire Marshal Chad burned it all down.

But pit master Pittman is different y’all, as he is cooking up something mighty tasty in the Ozarks.

Yessir! Coming at in No. 21 on FanSided’s Preseason Top 50 Rankings, the Arkansas Razorbacks!

Arkansas football 2021 season in review

After a 3-7 COVID season where Arkansas achieved something Morris never could by winning a single conference game, Pittman looked at his three SEC victories as something to build on. They started the 2021 campaign out 4-0 with wins over Rice, a soon-to-be sorry Texas team (sorry, not sorry), Georgia Southern and rival Texas A&M in JerryWorld to the Dallas Cowboys owner’s liking.

As everybody started to buy the Arkansas hype, the Hogs were slaughtered by Pittman’s former pit boss Kirby Smart’s absolute … DAWGS! in Athens. You better believe College GameDay was there. After the blocked punt to make it 21-0 UGA, you could smell the bacon cooking all the way down in St. Simons. Arkansas would then drop the Nutt Bowl and then lose at home to Auburn.

At 4-3, Arkansas chopped down Pine Bluff, as was for whom the cowbell tolled vs. Mike Leach and the boys. By mid-November, Arkansas achieved elusive bowl eligibility, but Pittman’s team was not done just yet. The Razorbacks won the Golden Boot over an LSU Tigers team that had no bite. After playing Alabama close, which the Hogs always manage to do, it was time for Battle Line.

Arkansas would claim the Ozarks for themselves in a way that Jason Bateman could only dream. At 8-4 with impressive rivalry victories over Texas, Texas A&M, LSU and Missouri, Arkansas won what was the final Outback Bowl (RIP). It is only fitting that Team Bloomin’ Onion came out on top vs. Big Ten foe Penn State. What is ESPN’s Cole Cubelic going to devour from the bleachers meow?

Previewing Arkansas offense for 2022 season

  • Returning starters (6): KJ Jefferson (QB), Raheim Sanders (RB), Brady Latham (LG), Ricky Stromberg (C), Beaux Limmer (RG), Dalton Wagner (RT)
  • Newcomers (3): Jadon Haselwood (WR), Matt Landers (WR), Cade Fortin (QB)
  • Impact player: KJ Jefferson (QB)

There are some familiar faces on the Arkansas offense. It has around six returning starters from a year ago, including starting quarterback KJ Jefferson and center Ricky Stromberg. While they lack considerable starting experience in the receiving corps, Jefferson’s dual-threat playmaking abilities and running back Raheim Sanders should flourish behind a very experienced Hogs offensive line.

A trio of transfers could see some playing time in Fayetteville this season. Jadon Haselwood makes his way into the Arkansas receiving corps from Oklahoma. Matt Landers reunites with his former Georgia offensive coach in Pittman. Though not expected to start, quarterback Cade Fortin left South Florida to come play some Power Five football for the Hogs. Fortin might get some run.

Obviously, the Arkansas offense will only go as far as the offensive line and Jefferson will take it. The big uglies in the trenches are this side of the ball’s strength, but Jefferson is the one tasked with making plays. Although he is not going to have to do this alone, it is hard to see the revamped receiving corps having a splendid time if Jefferson is unable to get them the ball in stride this fall.

Previewing Arkansas defense for 2022 season

  • Returning starters (5): Bumper Pool (LB), LaDarrius Bishop (CB), Jalen Catalon (DB), Myles Slusher (DB), Hudson Clark (CB)
  • Newcomers (5): Drew Sanders (LB), Latavious Brini (CB), Landon Jackson (DE), Jordan Domineck (DE), Dwight McGlothern (CB)
  • Impact player: Bumper Pool (LB)

It is a mixed bag of returning starters on the Arkansas defense. Although they are largely inexperienced in the trenches, Arkansas is especially deep in the defensive backfield. Returning starters in the Razorbacks secondary include LaDarrius Bishop, Jalen Catalon, Myles Slusher and Hudson Card. There is also some guy named Bumper Pool who kicked James to the curb at age 16.

Arkansas has two newcomers as projected starters. Drew Sanders will play some linebacker alright after coming over from divisional foe Alabama. Like Landers on offense, Latavious Brini reunites with Pittman after being part of the Georgia program. Other newcomers to this year’s Arkansas football defense include Landon Jackson, Jordan Dominick and Dwight McGlothern.

While Catalon will be in the mix for major awards as well, how can you possibly overlook a linebacker named Bumper Pool who plays his college football for the Arkansas Razorbacks? I would never let a man who went by James clean my pool, but if his name happened to be Bumper, well … I’ll tell you what, I would let that man marry my only daughter as I walk her down the aisle.

Arkansas football players awards watch for 2022 season

Seven Arkansas football stars appeared on major awards watch lists for the 2022 college season.

KJ Jefferson, Davey O’Brien, Maxwell

Jefferson is up for the Davey O’Brien and the Maxwell as the Arkansas starting quarterback. It will not be easy for him to come away with either honor, but he is so important to this really fun team.

Raheim Sanders, Doak Walker

Sanders finds his way onto the Doak Walker Award Watch List. It may not be realistically in the cards for him, but if Jefferson thrives and Arkansas is vying for a division title, this is not absurd.

Ricky Stromberg, Outland, Rimington

Arkansas is known for producing copious amounts of offensive line talent, in good years and bad. Stromberg is not only up for the Outland Trophy, but he can win the Rimington as the best center.

Jalen Catalon, Bedarnik, Nagurski, Thorpe

If Catalon takes home the Bednarik, Nagurski or Thorpe, we are throwing ourselves a wine mixer. With Dale on the skins and Brennan on the mic, Por Ti Volare to strictly ’80s Billy Joel cover bands.

Bumper Pool, Bednarik, Nagurski, Butkus

And if Catalon gets a wine mixer, you better believe Bumper is getting a Pool party. No More James is up for the Bednarik, Nagurski and Butkus. It’s never about the Jimmies, when it’s about the Joes.

Reid Bauer, Ray Guy

Punter Reid Bauer is the first of two specialists to appear on awards watch lists for Arkansas. The Ray Guy Award has become an exclusive and most distinguished club after adding The Punt God.

Cam Little, Groza, Wuerffel

There is nothing small about Cam Little’s leg. He may not have the tinker toes of Lou Groza, but he can put it through the uprights, alright. Little is also up for the Wuerffel because he is a big leader.

Arkansas football biggest game on 2022 schedule

Looking at Arkansas’ 2022 regular-season schedule, while the Hogs do not play a Power Five team in the non-conference, two are about to be in a year’s time in BYU and Cincinnati. Thus, there are very little guarantees on the Razorbacks’ season slate. What is important though is they come out of the gate a punch a rival in the mouth to help set the tone for how conference play could go.

It may be a revenge game for the Texas A&M Aggies, but the Hogs have to win in Jerryworld if they have any serious aspirations of getting to 10 wins on the season. Assuming Arkansas takes advantage of a depleted Cincinnati team at home and cooks South Carolina like a chicken the next Saturday, the Hogs could be 3-0 with a victory over Missouri State before the Southwest Classic.

The reason why the Texas A&M game is so important is it will help breathe into life Arkansas’ outside chances of being the second best team in the SEC West after only Alabama. You win in Arlington, and you afford yourself another opportunity to slip up outside of vs. the Crimson Tide and still get to 10 wins. Guess what 10 wins does for an SEC West program? It means NY6, y’all!

Arkansas football best-case scenario

Let’s be real for around two minutes and 30 seconds. Is a 10-win regular season possible for the Hogs or just one of my lies? If it … is?, it will be one for the Razorbacks, alright. But let’s hope this team doesn’t Kerplunk! prematurely before getting to the most sacred Sugar or Cotton Bowl or something. No, it’s not 2000 light years away, but the words I might have eaten after predicting this.

So Arkansas starts the year out at 4-0 with home wins vs. Cincinnati, South Carolina and Missouri State, as well the neutral-site affair in the DFW sprawl vs. Gig Em. Per usual, the Hogs will find a way of keeping things interesting vs. the Crimson Tide before being slaughtered. Amidst the cacophony of cowbells and a cross-country trip to Mormon country, Arkansas could split the pair.

At 5-2 coming off their bye, the Razorbacks make sure it is not going to be one of those special years for Auburn football by catching the Tigers by their toes as the No. 2 team in the state. The Hogs aren’t ready to go diamond Dookie on everyone’s ass, but no TP for you Auburn at the corner of College and Magnolia. From there, Arkansas douses Hugh Freeze’s Liberty Flame like Dino did.

I will remember you and I hope you will remember me, too. These fired-up Hogs can smell what the rock Brian Kelly and his family are cooking up near the bayou. They want to get a taste and protect the Golden Boot. It will be close, but no cigar for Baton Rouge Saturday night shenanigans. Yessir! The Razorbacks win that one, too. After a savory Nutt Bowl victory, it is time for Battle Line.

It will be one of the greatest Barry Odom spite games you will ever see. He turned heel on his alma mater before, and he’s going to keep doing it again and again. With the passion of a Coach Yost defense and a Coach Boone six-play offensive attack, it will be the Black Friday to remember the Razorbacks. Arkansas will find itself at 10-2 and on the verge of getting to a New Year’s Six bowl.

Arkansas football worst-case scenario

Well, the good news for Razorback fans if they have already been through undeniable hell and came out the other side of it pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. Like Larry David, I’m here to curb your enthusiasm. For the sake of Larry David argument, what is the worst possible situation the Hogs could find themselves heading into bowl season? It starts with not being onto Cincinnati…

Starring across from him on the other sidelines, Pittman channels his inner Coach Klein and somehow gets bullied by the former Ohio State meathead known as Luke Fickell. Pretty much Hulking out of his shirt, the Bearcats flex on Arkansas, knowing gosh darn well they are about to go Power Five. This first loss stings, but getting Spencer Rattler-ed will feel oh, so much worse.

Pittman will lose to his former Georgia colleague Shane Beamer because his team cannot stand the smell of mayonnaise. The only thing worse is the Hogs’ play, as they Kerplunk all the way to 0-2 before the Missouri State lifesaver keeps them afloat for now. Fueled by NIL money and fast-talking Boomhauer gibberish, Texas A&M makes Texans proud, and the folks in Arlen are talking.

“Bobby? What’s that smell?”

1-3 becomes 1-4 after Alabama tramples them like elephants. Of course, Mike Leach and his team will find a way to lose the next game because that’s just how the unpredictable nonsense of the Air Raid goes. Hashtag blessed to be 2-4, BYU too has a season to prove it’s ready to go Power Five. The cougars devour the hapless Hogs at altitude in a most ferocious and carnivorous manner.

You still beat Auburn because someone always has it worse than you. A 3-5 Hogs team rings Freeze’s Liberty bell to notch another W. Assuming a home split between Ole Miss and LSU, and it all comes down to Battle Line. Mizzou’s Coach Klein a.k.a. Eliah Drinkwitz has studied up and devised new plays not found in a green notebook. With a chance at a bowl, here’s what happens…

Arkansas loses Battle Line on a gimmicky trick play, as Drinkwitz is carried off the field like he is the late, great Buddy Ryan or something. In their minds, the 2022 Missouri Tigers are the 1985 Chicago Bears. At 5-7, the Waltons and Jerry Jones have seen enough. Pittman loses his dream job and Jones, knowing he still has to pay Mike McCarthy his money, has an unorthodox idea for us…

After losing on Thanksgiving, McCarthy finds new employment by the end of the week. His “Woo Pig Sooie” hits way too close to Bret Bielema’s WPS from back in the day. I advise drinking heavily.

Arkansas football 2022 season prediction

No, Arkansas is not going to the Cotton Bowl, nor is Pittman getting replaced from his dream job by the fraud Aaron Rodgers carried to a Super Bowl back in 2010. We are going to run this right down the middle, so that Arkansas finishes around 8-4, and is in the mix to finish inside of the top 25 when they beat a comparable team in their forgettable bowl game. Sound good? Here. We. Go.

Arkansas gets off to a fast start like it did a year ago with three impressive victories over teams it is clearly better than. The Cincinnati game will carry some weight, but we will quickly see that the Bearcats are not winning the Group of Five for the third year in a row. Texas A&M proves too much in the Southwest Classic and Arkansas can’t hang at home vs. Alabama in the following weekend.

They either get right in Starkville or finally stop the bleeding in Provo. Either way, the Hogs split the pair between Mississippi State and BYU to get to a middling 4-3 heading into their bye. Back-to-back wins at Auburn and over Liberty has Arkansas bowl-eligible. They split the pair between LSU and Ole Miss at home, although they drop one of those rivalry games on a questionable call.

At 7-4 entering Battle Line, it will be a Black Friday indeed for the SEC’s redheaded step-child known as Mizzou. This is what happens when you accept a Langmore into your fine institution, you lose the Battle of the Ozarks. It may not be the season Arkansas was hoping for, but this was a program that couldn’t win conference games a few years ago. 8-4 has them finishing in fourth.

Arkansas football 2022 bowl game prediction

In a game bringing the Southwest and Big Eight together, I bring you the Texas Bowl. It will be the epitome of business in the front and party in the back, as John Daly’s alma mater takes on Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The bowl game might as well be sponsored by Hooters, but we will be very glad to see two teams we thought so highly of disappointing us in one last game.

Coming tomorrow: No. 20: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Other articles in this series:

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John Verrall

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