Arkansas Football Impressive In 31-24 Win Over Cincinnati, Which Kept Losing Its Head

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No. 19 Arkansas looked as good as last year – if not better – Saturday as it defeated No. 23 Cincinnati, 31-24, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville for its first win over a ranked team in a season opener since beating beat No. 5 USC, 22-7, in 1974.

The Razorbacks, who were 9-4 last season, beat a Cincinnati team that finished 13-1 last year and reached the College Football Playoff. Arkansas (1-0) hosts South Carolina on Saturday.

Arkansas did it with a star-studded performance from junior quarterback KJ Jefferson, who looked much like he did in 2021. Jefferson completed 18 of 26 passes for 223 yards with three touchdowns and rushed 18 times for 62 yards and another touchdown.

He also scrambled for a 14-yard gain on third-and-nine in the closing minutes as the Hogs kept the ball away from the Bearcats, who never had a chance to try for a game-tying touchdown as the game ended.

Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson was a force in a season-opening win over Cincinnati
Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson was a force in a season-opening win over Cincinnati (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

“That was huge,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said.


Pittman planned on a simple celebration of the victory.

“I’m not promoting it, but I like old cold beer,” he said. “I think I’m going to have one.”

New Cincinnati starting quarterback Ben Bryant kept it close as he completed 26 of 43 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Arkansas tailback Raheim Sanders gained 117 yards on 20 carries.

The Razorbacks had not played a ranked team in a season opener since losing 23-17 to No. 10 Texas in 1980.


Cincinnati may have set a record in the loss. Its players repeatedly had their helmets slip off during play – at least a dozen times.

The Bearcats were also whistled for 10 penalties for 65 yards.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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  1. I’ll bet Coach Pittman turned that jukebox ON and had a nice old cold beer! He deserves it. KJ Jefferson, in a fair world, would be in the top five Heisman contenders, but I doubt he will be. We’re just Arkansas, you know, and he doesn’t get too much national exposure, except now we’re playing two games in a row on ESPN, but he deserves it. He grinds it out and makes it look pretty.

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