Even without Jahan Dotson, I think a healthier Sean Clifford will go a long way for the offense, as Cliff can still drop dimes to Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith (and perhaps Malick Meiga or someone else stepping up in the No. 3 receiver role). I have a hard time seeing this end well for PSU though, due to half the defensive starters opting out, especially against a team like Arkansas that can pound the rock. Don’t be surprised if this one resembles a shootout of sorts.
Arkansas 41, Penn State 31
PSU seemingly has had its entire defense opt out, while their best offensive weapon is sitting out too. Recipe for disaster, correct? Probably, yes, but now we get to see a whole slew of young players, who will be next year’s starters. For no reason in particular, I think we see a young, energetic PSU squad go out and have fun with this game. Could win, could lose, but I’m excited either way.
Penn State 35, Arkansas 31
Penn State will be without at least five starters on defense, and that doesn’t even include players such as Adisa Isaac and PJ Mustipher who were lost for the season to injury, which will lead to Jesse Luketa moving from DE to LB which is not good. Penn State will now have a depleted front 7 facing a team that runs the ball 60% of the team. No Jahan Dotson for an offense that has relied on him all season. Just put this damn miserable season out to pasture and end it already.
Arkansas 42, Penn State 20
Arkansas may be more one-dimensional than they already are with the absence of their top receiver, but the Nittany Lion defense has struggled against offenses who purely run the ball even with all of their starters. As a reminder, they are missing about half of their usual first-teamers due to opt-outs. I do think the offense puts some points on the board, but it’s not enough to beat those piggies.
Arkansas 38, Penn State 24
Bowl games are unpredictable in nature. A month lull between the last game of the season and this game, which gives coaches an opportunity to work on stuff they couldn’t during the season, when they were preparing for their regular opponents. Add onto that the fact that opt outs are pretty normal now, which means teams like Penn State could be decimated overnight —while Arkansas, on the other hand, only lost two players, at least officially, to opt outs. There’s also the motivation factor, where a team like Arkansas, who hasn’t been to a bowl in five years, would be ready to play, while Penn State looked like a playoff team at one point, only to finish, well, here.
If you took all of those things under consideration, it would be crazy not to pick Arkansas. But what can I say, I’m crazy.
Penn State 56, Arkansas 17
Jared (from the Outback Bowl Preview)
Let’s get real - the make-up of this game sets up more as an exhibition with opportunities to tinker ahead of 2022 than a reflection of the current season. There will be new starters, new coordinators, and new schemes. Looking back at the 2021 season probably won’t do to much to help predict the outcome.
The one thing that will remain relevant is momentum. Penn State finished the season with a thud at 2-5 in the final seven games. The Razorbacks were 5-2 in the same span. Arkansas will also come in with more motivation, as an Outback Bowl victory and top 25 finish is a major step forward after several years of sitting at the bottom of the SEC.
Penn State’s defense will be replacing too much to regularly stop Arkansas throughout the afternoon. The offense should fare much better in terms of personnel, especially with a rested Sean Clifford. However, the offense has proven to be too unreliable to find the balance and consistency to outpace the Razorbacks.
Arkansas-34, Penn State-24