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KJ Jefferson of the Arkansas Razorbacks rolls out to pass in the first half against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium.
KJ Jefferson of the Arkansas Razorbacks rolls out to pass in the first half against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images via AFP.

The Bearcats are coming off a trip to the College Football Playoff, while the Razorbacks are a sleeper team in the SEC. Let's take a look at their Week 1 matchup in our Cincinnati-Arkansas picks.

The Cincinnati Bearcats finished the 2021 regular season undefeated before finally giving the country a look at a non-Power 5 team in the College Football Playoff. Now they'll need to adjust to life without quarterback Desmond Ridder. Their defense is still stout, and they'll look to take the ball away from Arkansas to get good field position, all while trying not to be removed from College Football Playoff consideration in Week 1.

Quarterback KJ Jefferson leads the Razorbacks, and he can beat teams with both his arms and legs. He threw for 2,676 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2021 with just four interceptions while rushing for 664 yards.

His ability to take care of the ball will be critical against Cincinnati. Arkansas should win easily if Jefferson doesn't turn it over. But if he does, this could turn into a very close contest.

Here are our Cincinnati-Arkansas Week 1 college football picks (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook; Pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Game Info

Date: Saturday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Location: Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Weather: 85 degrees, 40% chance of precipitation, 15-mph winds

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Odds Analysis

Arkansas opened as a 7.5-point favorite, then the line quickly moved below the key number in favor of Cincinnati. After getting as low as -6, the line has moved back to -6.5 at most major sportsbooks. The Razorbacks are drawing 83% of the tickets to cover.

The total opened at 54 before continually falling throughout the week. It's now down as low as 51.5 at some of the top sportsbooks.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Picks

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas ATS Pick

Arkansas -6.5 (-110) ★★★

Cincinnati is suddenly a very public team after what the Bearcats were able to accomplish in 2021. But they're overrated coming into 2022. If they hadn’t made it to the College Football Playoff in 2021, there's almost no chance the Bearcats would be ranked coming into the season. But they narrowly made it into the top 25, mainly because of their defense.

For Arkansas, this is a huge game. A win would give them a significant confidence boost ahead of the team's SEC opener against South Carolina in Week 2. KJ Jefferson will struggle to move the ball at times, but his ability to maintain possession will be the difference. He'll eventually find some room to work so the offense can score. The defense also shouldn't struggle to keep Cincinnati in check for most of the game, with the Razorbacks winning easily.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas O/U Pick

Under 52 (-110) ★★★

Ben Bryant transferred from Eastern Michigan in the offseason, and he'll be leading Cincinnati in 2022. His stats under center with the Eagles were quite good (3,121 passing yards, and 14 touchdown passes with seven interceptions in 2021). But this Arkansas defense is the best he's ever faced.

Meanwhile, it'll be a strength vs. strength matchup when Arkansas has the ball, with the Razorbacks trying to score on a very solid defense. It’s going to take a bit for Arkansas to get going, but the Razorbacks should be able to wear down Cincinnati's defense to pull away for a win in a low-scoring game.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Prop Pick

Cincinnati Under 23.5 (-130)★★★

The Arkansas defense gave up more than 21 points just four times in 2021, including games against Alabama and Mississippi, two of the nation's best offenses.

There will be a learning curve for the Bearcats in Week 1. Their offensive line is great, but how will Bryant connect with his receivers against a good secondary?

This number should keep dropping as the kickoff draws near. Taking it as low as 21.5 is safe. You'll likely get a much more favorable price at that point, too.

Where to Bet on Cincinnati-Arkansas Picks

Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:

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Cincinnati-Arkansas picks made 9/1/2022 at 8:20 a.m. ET