The Penn State Nittany Lions and Arkansas Razorbacks will be the first college football game of 2022. They’ll play in the Outback Bowl at 12 pm ET in an NFL stadium at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Arkansas finished the season 8-4 and had the more surprising season between the two. Meanwhile, Penn State went 7-5 and had a bit of an underwhelming season.
Which team will have the edge on Saturday? Here are our picks and predictions for the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Arkansas Razorbacks for January 1.
- Opening Line: Penn State -4.5, O/U 49.5
- Current Line: Arkansas -1.5, O/U 47.5
- Last meeting: No Previous Matchups
The Penn State Nittany Lions finished the season 7-5 with a loss to Michigan State. Penn State could’ve won that game but instead lost 30-27 in a devastating fashion. That’s kind of how its season has gone. Penn State lost quarterback Sean Clifford for a couple of games and has had to use three different quarterbacks at different times this season.
The offense scored 26.1 points per game while averaging 380.8 yards per game. Quarterback play was a problem as Clifford wasn’t nearly as good as expected this season. Sure, Clifford threw for 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions, but he was all over the place this season. Maybe it was due to injury or maybe it wasn’t, but Clifford missed a whole lot of easy passes this season.
The run game also wasn’t impressive. The Nittany Lions only rushed for 106.4 yards per game. For a team that is known for producing big rushers, Penn State didn’t do that this season.
Meanwhile, the defense performed, especially in the secondary. The Nittany Lions allowed just 344 yards per game with only 208.3 yards in the air per game all season. Still, at times, the rushing defense looked like a liability.
That’s an area where Arkansas can do damage. The Razorbacks averaged 31.5 points per game on 440.9 yards per game. The rushing game exploded for over 215 yards per game and is capable of dominating a Penn State defense that still gave up 135.7 yards per game on the ground.
Arkansas’ defense isn’t necessarily better than Penn State’s but they’re more balanced as a group. There’s no single area where Penn State can just flat-out dominate Arkansas.
- Nittany Lions are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 vs. SEC.
- The under is 5-0 during the Nittany Lions last 5 games following a straight up loss.
Penn State’s defense was terrific this season, but you can ask Alabama if you want. Arkansas isn’t an easy team to defend. Arkansas scored 35 points on Alabama earlier this year, losing 42-35. There’s just no way Penn State comes close to scoring around the 30 point marker against Arkansas. The offense just doesn’t have enough firepower.
So let’s roll with Arkansas -1.5 in this matchup in the Outback Bowl.
Pick: Arkansas -1.5 (-110)
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