Jul 29, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A detailed view of UCLA Bruins helmet during Pac-12 Media Day at Novo Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten reveals future scheduling model with UCLA, USC in fold

The Big Ten on Thursday revealed its new football scheduling model for 2024 and onward, incorporating future members UCLA and Southern California into the mix while protecting many traditional rivalries.

The formula is being called “Flex Protect Plus” and described by Big Ten COO Kerry Kenny to The Athletic as “a 3-6-6, maybe with a twist because those three aren’t staying rigid the entire time.”

Eleven rivalries are being permanently protected, with some teams having more than others. The 11 games are:

–Michigan-Ohio State
–Michigan-Michigan State

Penn State was the only school not to have a rivalry protected.

Regardless of the number of permanent rivalries, every team will now play three opponents in back-to-back seasons. In 2026, after the first two seasons of the format, all non-permanent “two-play” opponents will rotate.

The conference also revealed all conference opponents for the 2024 and 2025 seasons on Thursday. Game dates were not yet scheduled.

In Southern California’s first year in the league, the Trojans will fly east to face Maryland and Penn State as well as play road games at Northwestern and Purdue. UCLA has the farthest road trip with a date at Rutgers, along with visits to Indiana, Iowa and Michigan.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) shakes hands with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) after a game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

23 NFL games to watch in 2023

Maybe consuming all 272 NFL regular-season games is on your agenda.

For a more selective audience, we set out to help with a few save-the-date reminders upon the Thursday night release of the 2023 schedule and our picks for the 23 games to watch this season.

With apologies to the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, not every team made the cut.

1. Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Sept. 7, 8:20 p.m. ET

Undefeated in five Week 1 starts, Patrick Mahomes in primetime to start the season looks spicy with the Lions becoming a featured attraction.

2. Buffalo Bills at New York Jets, Monday, Sept. 11, 8:15 p.m. ET

The “Monday Night Football” opening act is Aaron Rodgers’ home debut as Jets QB and his first rumble with the Bills and Josh Allen as division rivals. Damar Hamlin’s return to the field in primetime rates as a relevant and worthwhile subplot.

3. New York Jets at New York Giants, Oct. 29, 1 p.m. ET

MetLife Stadium co-tenants haven’t been this relevant since the last time they both made the playoffs in 2006.

4. Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers, Oct. 29, 1 p.m. ET

Houston No. 2 pick C.J. Stroud and Carolina No. 1 pick Bryce Young measure up for the first time as pros.

5. Detroit Lions at Baltimore Ravens, Oct. 22, 1 p.m. ET

Not a classic rivalry, this feels like a game that could have either 80 total points or 80 combined rushing attempts.

6. Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, Dec. 10, 8:20 p.m. ET

A game that should be vital in deciding the NFC East brings plenty of peripheral entertainment value.

7. Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, Friday, Nov. 24, 3 p.m. ET

The day-after-Thanksgiving duel on Amazon Prime might be meaningful as a standalone NFL game between playoff hopefuls.

8. Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans, Dec. 24, 1 p.m. ET

Deshaun Watson returns to Houston for the second time as a member of the Browns. The Texans’ makeover could be nearing completion, with this appraisal of Stroud likely to draw many eyeballs.

9. Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs, Dec. 31, 4:25 p.m. ET

Burrowhead didn’t stick for some reason. But the Bengals and Joe Burrow (3-1 against Patrick Mahomes) aren’t going away in the AFC contenders tug of war. Our only contention with this game is whether playoff position will be on the line or if this becomes a rest game in Week 17.

10. Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Oct. 22, 4:25 p.m. ET

We don’t tire of the Justin Herbert-Patrick Mahomes matchup that has produced a margin no greater than one score in five of six meetings.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills (London), Oct. 8, 9:30 a.m. ET

This is the second of two “home” games for the Jaguars as the first team to play back-to-back weeks in London, where Jacksonville is 4-5. They’ll be the home team the previous week against the Falcons.

12. New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders, Oct. 15, 4:05 p.m. ET

Josh McDaniels is doing Vegas the Patriot Way with Jimmy G. at quarterback, Jakobi Meyers at wide receiver and pass rusher Chandler Jones among his Foxborough imports.

13. Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals, Monday, Sept. 25, 8:15 p.m. ET

It’s a rematch of Super Bowl LVI and two tight friends coaching teams that appear to be drifting in opposite directions.

14. New York Giants at Buffalo Bills, Oct. 15, 8:20 p.m. ET

Head coach Brian Daboll returns to Buffalo, and here’s hoping he brings a few points to keep pace with the Bills.

15. Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets, Oct. 1, 8:20 p.m. ET

A “Sunday Night Football” marquee matchup that should bring more points than the 20 total the Chiefs and Aaron Rodgers’ old team put up when they last met in 2021.

16. Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers, Oct. 8, 8:20 p.m. ET

San Francisco booted the Cowboys from the playoffs each of the past two seasons.

17. Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET

Where will the narrative be on Jordan Love and the Packers as they begin a three-game run of marquee timeslots that includes a home date with the Chiefs and Dec. 11 MNF at the Giants?

18. Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals, Sept. 17, 1 p.m. ET

Lamar Jackson and the future highest-paid QB in the NFL, Joe Burrow, will wrestle for the AFC North title belt.

19. New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys, Sept. 17, 4:25 p.m. ET

Maybe you heard, the Jets are going to be featured in national TV windows a few times this year. Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy reengage in Dallas.

20. San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles, Dec. 3, 4:25 p.m. ET

Raise your hand if you want to see the NFC title game rematch, but this time Brock Purdy has use of throwing arm?

21. Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, Dec. 10, 4:05 p.m. ET

Seattle came up short against San Francisco twice in the final month of their season, including the wild-card playoffs, but this rivalry has big-enemy energy. They’ll tangle twice in three weeks, this date coming after Seattle hosts the Niners in the Thanksgiving nightcap.

22. Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs, Monday, Nov. 20, 8:15 p.m. ET

Super Bowl rematch and burgeoning rivalry pits Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts at Arrowhead.

23. Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, Dec. 10, 4:25 p.m. ET

The Bills served KC one of its three losses in 2022. The Josh Allen-Patrick Mahomes matchup has risen to Elway-Marino, Manning-Brady levels.

–Field Level Media

Jan 29, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) and tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrate after winning the AFC Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Defending champion Chiefs to kick off season vs. Lions

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will kick off the 2023 regular season against the visiting Detroit Lions on Thursday, Sept. 7.

The opening week also will feature Aaron Rodgers’ New York Jets debut against the visiting Buffalo Bills on “Monday Night Football” on Sept. 11 — the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The NFL plans to announce the complete 2023 schedule on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

The Chiefs plan to unveil the banner commemorating their Super Bowl LVII victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in pregame festivities at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City also is scheduled to host the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Day.

Other games known so far include two for the San Francisco 49ers: hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 8 and visiting the Eagles in a 2022 NFC Championship rematch on Dec. 3.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Munich, Germany; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reacts during the NFL Live Fan Forum at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NFL targets May 11 for ’23 schedule release

The NFL is targeting May 11 to release the 2023 regular season schedule, ESPN reported Sunday.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and scheduling czar Howard Katz will meet Monday to continue to finalize details, per the report.

Their job, particularly scheduling prime-time games, gained more clarity with the recent trade of quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets as well as the re-signing of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Last year, the 17-game schedules for the 2022 regular season were released on May 12.

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The College Football Playoff National Championship trophy at CFP Champions press conference at Los Angeles Airport Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CFP reveals expanded first-round playoff dates

The expanded 12-team College Football Playoff schedule will begin in the third week of December in 2024.

One first-round game will be held on Friday, Dec. 20, and three will take place on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Executive director Bill Hancock confirmed the dates on Thursday after the conclusion of the CFP spring meetings in Irving, Texas.

As for the quarterfinal games, three will be played on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2025. The fourth will also be on a weekday, either Dec. 31 or Jan. 2, in order to avoid a conflict with the NFL’s wild-card weekend.

“We want to preserve as much prep time between the rounds as we possibly can,” Hancock told reporters. “I wouldn’t want to share any details about our conversations with the NFL, but we have a good relationship with them.”

In the expanded format, the four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and each will earn a bye in the first round.

The first-round games will be played at the home of the higher seed: No. 12 at No. 5, No. 11 at No. 6, No. 10 at No. 7 and No. 9 at No. 8.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Texas Longhorns defensive end Justice Finkley (1) and Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Keondre Coburn (99) sack Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Davis Beville (11) during the second half at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 releases football schedule for 14-team season

The 2023 Big 12 football schedule, released on Tuesday, will make for some awkward get-togethers.

While BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are joining the league, Oklahoma and Texas have not yet departed for the SEC.

All 14 teams will play nine conference games, starting Sept. 16 when newcomer Houston hosts TCU, the 2022 College Football Playoff runner-up and a former Southwest Conference rival.

Texas will face just two of the Big 12’s newest entries, and the games will come back-to-back. The Longhorns will visit Houston Oct. 21 and host BYU Oct. 28

Oklahoma, meanwhile, will open its Big 12 schedule by visiting Cincinnati Sept. 23. The Sooners will later host UCF Oct. 21 and travel to BYU Nov. 18.

The annual Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma is set for Oct. 7 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

A rematch of last season’s Big 12 championship game, between TCU and equally surprising Kansas State, will be Oct. 21 in Manhattan, Kan.

Oklahoma State is slated to host Oklahoma on Nov. 4 in the Bedlam series matchup.

Oklahoma and Texas will join the SEC in either 2024 or 2025. The two bluebloods’ decision to jump ship prompted the Big 12 to invite BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, some of the most successful athletic programs from outside the power conferences.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles fans cheer on during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Full NFL playoff picture: Eagles land bye, Dolphins snag wild card

With all but one Week 18 game complete, 13 of the NFL’s 14 playoff teams were set in stone Sunday evening.

The Philadelphia Eagles finally secured the top seed in the NFC and the Miami Dolphins grabbed the last AFC wild-card berth during the afternoon action.

The only spot left at the table was the No. 7 seed in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks remained alive for it by defeating the Los Angeles Rams 19-16 in overtime. But the Green Bay Packers have a win-and-in scenario entering “Sunday Night Football” against the visiting Detroit Lions. If the Packers lose, the Seahawks will earn the berth.

The Eagles’ 22-16 victory over the New York Giants halted a two-game slide and brought Philadelphia to 14-3, out of reach of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, who were also contending for the NFC’s top seed at the start of the day.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills secured the No. 2 seed in the AFC by beating the New England Patriots 35-23. The Cincinnati Bengals locked up the No. 3 seed with a 27-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The Bills and Bengals were playing for the first time since their Monday night game was postponed and eventually canceled after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field.

The day’s results set up the Bengals to face the Ravens in the AFC wild-card round. The NFL has said that due to the scheduling disadvantages caused by Monday’s cancellation in Cincinnati, homefield advantage for Bengals-Ravens will be decided by a coin flip.

The Dolphins beat the New York Jets 11-6 to beat out New England and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the last available AFC berth.

See the full schedule below (times and dates TBD):

No. 7 Miami Dolphins (9-8) at No. 2 Buffalo Bills (13-3)
No. 6 Baltimore Ravens (10-7) vs. No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) at No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)
Bye: No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)

No. 7 Seattle or Green Bay (TBD) at No. 2 San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
No. 6 New York Giants (9-7-1) at No. 3 Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
No. 5 Dallas Cowboys (12-5) at No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)
Bye: No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)

–Field Level Media

The Buffalo Bills gather while CPR is administered to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) after a play in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Roger Goodell offers mental health resources, Week 18 update

No changes were made to the Week 18 NFL schedule as the league prepares to navigate next steps toward returning to the playing field.

Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined evolving plans Tuesday in a memo sent to the NFL’s 32 teams, relaying the league position to not resume, at least this week, Monday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

Goodell, who has autonomy in such decisions but said he is consulting the NFLPA, said the NFL remains in constant contact with both teams and medical officials at University of Cincinnati Medical Center regarding the condition of Bills safety Damar Hamlin. Hamlin, 24, was resuscitated on the field by on-site medical personnel after collapsing due to cardiac arrest. The game was postponed in the first quarter after Hamlin was transported by ambulance.

The Bills said Tuesday afternoon Hamlin was in critical condition in the intensive care unit at UCMC.

“After speaking with both teams and NFLPA leadership, I decided to postpone last night’s game and have our focus remain on Damar and his family,” Goodell said in the memo.

“Earlier today, the head of player engagement and team clinician for each club received information from Dr. Nyaka NiiLampti about mental health and support resources that are available to your players and staff. Additional resources including on-site services can be available for any club that wishes this assistance. If your club would like to make use of these additional resources, please have your player engagement lead or team clinician contact Dr. NiiLampti.

“A short time ago, and after discussions with the two teams and the NFLPA, we advised Buffalo and Cincinnati that last night’s game will not be resumed this week. No decision has been made regarding the possible resumption of the game at a later date and we have not announced any changes to this weekend’s schedule. We will promptly advise all clubs of any decisions that are made regarding these matters. If you have any questions in the meantime, please call me or any of our senior staff.”

Multiple games scheduled for Sunday involve playoff berths and playoff seeding. Cincinnati is scheduled to host the Baltimore Ravens, a game that could determine the AFC North division. The outcome of the Monday game against the Bills was intended to be the guide for the kickoff time of this week’s game.

The Bengals, Bills and Kansas City Chiefs — scheduled for the first game of Week 18 on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET in Las Vegas — are vying for the top spot in the AFC.

Buffalo and the New England Patriots are scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Sunday. That game also impacts the AFC playoff picture.

AFC South rivals Tennessee and Jacksonville can both make the playoffs depending on the outcome of other games, but the winner of their Saturday night rematch wins the division and hosts a postseason game the following weekend.

The Titans were one of the few teams who went about their normal workday business on Tuesday. But head coach Mike Vrabel said he first invited players to a team meeting and discussion about Hamlin.

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) throws the ball against the Southern California Trojans in the first half of the Pac-12 Championship at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah, Penn State to Rose Bowl as full bowl game schedule revealed

Utah and Penn State will square off in the Rose Bowl and Alabama will face Big 12 champion Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl as part of this season’s slate of 41 bowl games, which were finalized Sunday.

Teams were invited to their respective bowls after the College Football Playoff selection committee named Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State to the four-team playoff. No. 1 Georgia and No. 4 Ohio State will play in the Peach Bowl in one semifinal and No. 2 Michigan will meet No. 3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl for the other.

As for the other New Year’s Six bowls, ACC champion Clemson drew SEC at-large Tennessee in the Orange Bowl, and No. 16 Tulane, the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, will go to the Cotton Bowl and play Southern California.

No. 8 Utah won the Pac-12 title game in a 47-24 rout of USC, allowing the Utes to punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl for the second straight season. Last week, the Rose Bowl had floated the idea of taking the Nittany Lions over Ohio State to avoid the same matchup in consecutive years, but that was rendered moot when the Buckeyes made the playoff field.

Alabama was ranked No. 5 in Sunday’s final CFP rankings, the first team out of the playoff. Kansas State moved up a spot to No. 9 after edging TCU 31-28 in overtime Saturday to win the Big 12 title.

Eighty-two of the 131 FBS teams will play in a bowl game, starting Dec. 16 when Miami (Ohio) and UAB kick off the Bahamas Bowl, and Troy and UTSA — which snuck into the final CFP rankings at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively — play in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

The full bowl schedule is below:

Friday, Dec. 16
Bahamas Bowl: Miami (Ohio) vs. UAB
Cure Bowl: No. 24 Troy vs. No. 25 UTSA

Saturday, Dec. 17
Fenway Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Louisville
New Mexico Bowl: SMU vs. BYU
LA Bowl: Washington State vs. Fresno State
LendingTree Bowl: Rice vs. Southern Miss
Las Vegas Bowl: Florida vs. No. 14 Oregon State
Frisco Bowl: North Texas vs. Boise State

Monday, Dec. 19
Myrtle Beach Bowl: Marshall vs. UConn

Tuesday, Dec. 20
Idaho Potato Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. San Jose State
Boca Raton Bowl: Liberty vs. Toledo

Wednesday, Dec. 21
New Orleans Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama

Thursday, Dec. 22
Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor vs. Air Force

Friday, Dec. 23
Independence Bowl: Louisiana vs. Houston
Gasparilla Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Missouri

Saturday, Dec. 24
Hawaii Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. San Diego State

Monday, Dec. 26
Quick Lane Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Bowling Green

Tuesday, Dec. 27
Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern vs. Buffalo
First Responder Bowl: Memphis vs. Utah State
Birmingham Bowl: Coastal Carolina vs. East Carolina
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma State

Wednesday, Dec. 28
Military Bowl: UCF vs. Duke
Liberty Bowl: Kansas vs. Arkansas
Holiday Bowl: North Carolina vs. Oregon
Texas Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss

Thursday, Dec. 29
Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse vs. Minnesota
Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Florida State
Alamo Bowl: No. 20 Texas vs. No. 12 Washington

Friday, Dec. 30
Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Maryland vs. No. 23 NC State
Sun Bowl: Pitt vs. No. 18 UCLA
Gator Bowl: No. 21 Notre Dame vs. No. 19 South Carolina
Arizona Bowl: Ohio vs. Wyoming
Orange Bowl: No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Clemson

Saturday, Dec. 31
Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 9 Kansas State
Music City Bowl: Iowa vs. Kentucky
Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 TCU vs. No. 2 Michigan (CFP semifinal)
Peach Bowl: No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Georgia (CFP semifinal)

Monday, Jan. 2
ReliaQuest Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Illinois
Cotton Bowl: No. 16 Tulane vs. No. 10 USC
Citrus Bowl: No. 17 LSU vs. Purdue
Rose Bowl: No. 11 Penn State vs. No. 8 Utah

Monday, Jan. 9
College Football Playoff national championship game: TCU-Michigan winner vs. Ohio State-Georgia winner

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2022; Tampa, FL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) smiles after the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2022 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Razorbacks revel in role of disrespected underdogs

The Arkansas Razorbacks are coming off a nine-win season, including rare wins over Texas and Texas A&M in the same season, and yet the players still feel like they’re a non-entity heading into the season.

And that’s just fine with them.

Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman is 12-11 heading into his third season in Fayetteville, Ark. He led the Razorbacks to a 9-4 record in 2021 and a victory over Penn State in the Outback Bowl. The Razorbacks hadn’t won nine games in a season since 2011.

But when ESPN ranked Arkansas last in the SEC West in its Football Power Index rankings for 2022, woo pig sooie.

“In the previous years, Arkansas was always slept on, and we’re still dirt under a rug,” redshirt junior quarterback KJ Jefferson told ESPN. “Now, it’s just getting back that workman mentality that Coach Pittman instilled in us, just that blue-collar, hard-nosed, put-your-head-down mentality.

“This program has been on the rise, and we’re going to keep building and get back on top where Arkansas belongs.”

Whether Arkansas can maintain its progress will hinge on how well the Razorbacks handle one of college football’s hardest schedules.

The Razorbacks open the season Sept. 3 against Cincinnati, coming off its College Football Playoff appearance. With non-conference games also against BYU and Missouri State, every opponent on Arkansas’ schedule either qualified for or played in the postseason in 2021.

“I mean, we love it when we get the hardest schedule,” Jefferson told ESPN. “The Las Vegas odds come out and we’re always the underdogs. We love it. It’s just another chance to prove everybody wrong and come out with an upset. So we know we’ve got the hardest schedule again, and it’s put up or shut up. It’s the same as last year. Everybody was counting us out this time last year, too.”

The Razorbacks will also go as far as Jefferson’s arm — and legs — can take them. Jefferson threw for 2,676 yards and 21 touchdowns and led the team with 664 rushing yards and six more touchdowns on the ground in his first season as the starter in 2021. Jefferson, who played at 250 pounds last season, is down to 240 on his 6-foot-3 frame.

“I don’t think a lot of people expected me to do what I did last year carrying 250 pounds,” Jefferson said. “Now that I’ve dropped the weight, I think there will be a whole new explosiveness to my game.”

–Field Level Media