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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.
“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.
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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.
One CommentLeave a Reply
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.