Outback Bowl pits Arkansas No.21 against Penn State in shock


Outback Bowl pits Arkansas No.21 against Penn State in shock

No. 21 Arkansas and Penn State took very different paths to the Outback Bowl.

When the teams face off in Tampa on Saturday, the Razorbacks will look to wrap up a positive second half of their season, while the Nittany Lions will look to salvage a once promising campaign.

Arkansas (8-4) closed the regular season by winning four of their last five games, losing just one touchdown to No. 2 Alabama in that streak. The Razorbacks are looking to grab attention after a season in which they beat Texas, Texas A&M and Mississippi State – all Top 25 enemies at the time.

“Some teams take (bowl games) lightly,” said Razorbacks wide receiver De’Vion Warren. “We don’t take any game lightly, so for us it’s another game that we have to get out of and earn respect. In college football, people don’t respect Arkansas.

The opposite may be true for the Nittany Lions. Penn State (7-5) received plenty of praise early in the season, placing in the top five after a 5-0 start, but the team have lost five of their last seven outings to move out of the standings.

This has left the Nittany Lions with hopes of securing one final victory in their 2021 season, although the team are also keen to build some momentum for their 2022 campaign.

“The guys are hungry and are doing it the right way,” said Ji’Ayir Brown, security at Penn State. “We want to get into this bowling game and give an example of what next season will look like.”

Several players from the teams are looking at next season in a different sense, as both teams have a key player who skips the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks and Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker and wide receiver Jahan Dotson, all of whom are possible first-round picks in next year’s draft, have decided to focus on their future in the NFL.

As for the players who will be dressing on New Years Day, Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson is one of the headliners. He has 2,578 passing yards and 21 touchdowns on just three interceptions, and he’s also contributed 554 rushing yards and five scores.

Without Burks (66 catches, 1,104 yards, 11 touchdowns), the Razorbacks will likely rely on a rushed offense that ranked second in the SEC with an average of 217.3 yards per game.

The Nittany Lions will be deprived of Dotson’s 91 receptions, 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns, putting pressure on quarterback Sean Clifford (2,912 yards, 20 touchdowns, six INTs) to find other targets.

This is the Nittany Lions’ fifth trip to the Outback Bowl – against five different SEC programs – with their most recent appearance being a 37-24 loss to Florida on Jan. 1, 2011.

Arkansas are playing in a New Years bowl game for the first time since 2008. The team has not played in any bowl since the 2016 Belk Bowl because the Razorbacks’ scheduled appearance in the 2020 Texas Bowl was canceled. due to COVID -19.

This is the very first meeting between schools.

–Field level media


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