After beginning fall camp this week, the Bearcats continue to prepare for the upcoming season opener at Arkansas on Saturday, September 3. Kick off is scheduled for 3:30 PM at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville and will be televised on ESPN. According to several sports books, the Razorbacks are approximately 7-point favorites prior to kick off.
Even though Arkansas will likely be without starting running back Dominique Johnson and right tackle Dalton Wagner for the season-opening matchup, there are several other skilled players that could give the Bearcats trouble next month. Senior signal caller KJ Jefferson has big time arm talent to go along with dangerous dual threat ability.
Cincinnati Football: Analyzing the Arkansas Razorbacks prior to season opener
Arkansas lost All-SEC receiver Treylon Burks to the NFL Draft but a pair of transfers will have a chance to break out this season. Jadon Haselwood, former Oklahoma wide receiver, should take over as Jefferson’s top target alongside Matt Landers, who began his career at Georgia before transferring to Toledo last year.
The Razorbacks will also lean on sophomore running back Raheim Sanders, who should get the bulk of the carries since Johnson is still recovering from a knee injury that was suffered in the Outback Bowl win against Penn State. Trey Knox is another pass catcher to keep an eye on after transitioning from wide receiver to tight end.
In addition to returning All-SEC linebacker Bumper Pool and safety Jalen Catalon, the Razorbacks defense is absolutely littered with in-conference transfers. Drew Sanders, who recorded 33 tackles in 15 appearances at Alabama, will play next to Pool and look to disrupt the Bearcats offense as much as possible in September.
A couple other notable newcomers include former LSU defensive back Dwight McGlothern and defensive end Landon Jackson. Both could make an immediate impact against Cincinnati after transferring within the SEC West. During his sophomore season at LSU, McGlothern totaled 32 tackles and six pass deflections in six starts.
Ben Bryant and Evan Prater must know where Catalon and McGlothern are at all times because both defensive backs will look to jump passing routes. Sam Pittman’s defensive line also consists of Jordan Domineck, Eric Gregory, Terry Hampton and Taylor Lewis. The Razorbacks are filled with elite talent and will obviously be motivated from the get-go.
It’s definitely going to be difficult to go into Fayetteville and come out with a win over a projected top-25 team with an All-SEC caliber quarterback at the helm. Luke Fickell will have the Bearcats ready to go but breaking in a new quarterback against a tough defense and lack of home field advantage are clear obstacles with the season opener 28 days out.