Seven long months have passed in the absence of college football, but for Arkansas Razorback fans, the wait is finally over.

Arkansas will take on the Eastern Illinois Panthers for the first time in both programs’ history, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent that tallied up a respectable 6-5 record in regular season play last season. Going back to 2008, Arkansas has won each of its last 11 meetings with FCS opponents, winning those games by an average of 31.6 points.

As the Razorbacks’ first-year coach Chad Morris mentioned this week, Arkansas will give two quarterbacks the opportunity to play in the season opener. Both sophomore Cole Kelley and junior Ty Storey will see reps Saturday, according to Morris in an interview with ESPN. Kelley shared quarterback duties with former senior Austin Allen in 2017, throwing for just over 1,000 yards in the season. It is the 6-foot-7-inch Kelley will draw the start for the game.

Morris is at his second university as head coach, previously coaching at Southern Methodist University, where he led the Mustangs to a 7-5 record and an appearance in the Frisco Bowl in 2017. Arkansas also added new coordinators this offseason, as this will be Joe Craddock’s first season as the Razorback offensive coordinator, while John Chavis will be directing the defense for the first time in 2018.

The Razorbacks have something to prove this season, starting off the campaign in the bottom slot in the always competitive Southeastern Conference preseason rankings. Arkansas last made it to the SEC Championship in 2006.

Razorback fans will enjoy the 2018 opener in a newly renovated Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Approximately 4,800 new seats were added, and the east and west sides are now connected.

Arkansas vs. Eastern Illinois will air on the SEC Network at 3 p.m. Saturday.


Drew Watzke is the sports editor of the Arkansas Traveler. Previously, he worked as a sports writer and columnist from 2018-2019.

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