Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Pick – Outback Bowl January 1, 2022

The Penn State Nittany Lions and Arkansas Razorbacks are at Raymond James Stadium for the Outback Bowl in Tampa Bay. Penn State is just trying to make it to kick-off, as they’ve had multiple opt-outs going into Saturday.

Everything is quiet when it comes to Covid for Penn State and Arkansas. However, Penn State is dealing with injuries and many opt-outs going into Saturday. That’s just the nature of bowl season for head coaches.

Head coaches have to improvise on the fly and give their reserves a starting role more than ever. Like NFL preseasons, it’s alright in the sense that they can get an early look at potential starters for next year, but it can be tough, especially when players decide to sit out late.

Some of these bowl games might be a step ahead of NFL preseason games in importance, but not by much. The Outback Bowl is one of the better non-New Year’s Six bowl games. That doesn’t mean future NFL draft picks care for playing in the Outback Bowl.

The Nittany Lions currently have six opt-outs, six of which are on the defensive side of the ball. The latest opt-out is courtesy of starting defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo. As a result of the situation, Penn State may have to burn redshirts for the Outback Bowl.

A redshirt freshman is slated to take the spot of Rasheed Walker on the offensive line. Walker is absent with an undisclosed injury. James Franklin will be forced to shuffle his offensive line for the Outback Bowl.

The biggest concern for Franklin has to be his defense against quarterback K.J. Jefferson. He’s an outsider in the Heisman race next year. I’d rather be a dark horse outsider than not mentioned at all, though.

Jefferson is setting up for a big campaign in 2022 with the Razorbacks. You can see flashes of greatness in his games, and if he can be more consistent next year, look out for Jefferson at Arkansas.

Head below for our free Penn State vs. Arkansas Outback Bowl prediction on January 1, 2022.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Outback Bowl Betting Odds and Team Statistics:

The following odds are courtesy of BetUS:

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Penn State Nittany Lions +2.5 (-105) +115 Over 48.5 (-110)
Arkansas Razorbacks -2.5 (-115) -145 Under 48.5 (-110)
Team Data Penn State Nittany Lions Arkansas Razorbacks
Overall Record 7-5 8-4
ATS Record 7-5-0 7-4-1
Points Per Game 26.3 31.5
Points Against Per Game 16.8 24.0
Passing Yards Per Game 274.4 223.6
Rushing Yards Per Game 106.3 156.3

Penn State vs. Arkansas Prediction:

K.J. Jefferson might give the Penn State an unusually long day in the Outback Down. At full strength or near full strength in a regular season game, I wouldn’t be concerned with the Nittany Lions here.

However, injuries and opt-outs are putting the Nittany Lions in a tough spot against a tough quarterback to defend like Jefferson.

He has an arm and legs to take off for a long run. Jefferson has passed for 21 touchdowns and 3 interceptions on 66.9% completions.

Not only is Jefferson smart with the ball, but he can take off and run. He’s gained 554 yards and 5 touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry. Jefferson is not an easy guy to take down, either.

Arkansas totalled 441.3 yards per game for 30th in the FBS. They are running the ball efficiently with 217.8 yards per game for 14th.

Penn State would give the Razorbacks issues at full strength, but it should be tough with five starters already listed out for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Trends:

Penn State

  • 1-5 ATS in their previous six games versus the SEC
  • 1-4 ATS in their previous five games in January
  • 6-19 ATS in their previous 25 games after a loss
  • 2-10 overall in their previous 12 games as an underdog
  • OVER is 4-0 in their previous four bowl games


  • 16-7-1 ATS in their previous 24 games
  • 7-1 overall in their previous eight games
  • 5-11-2 ATS in thier previous 18 games versus a non-conference team
  • UNDER is 8-1 in their previous nine bowl games
  • UNDER is 5-1 in their previous six games at a neutral field

Quarterback Sean Clifford will be forced to work without his offensive line in-tact against Arkansas. He is accepting his sixth year of eligibility to go back to Penn State next year.

Like a lot of quarterbacks that go through the Penn State program, Clifford is fine but not a game-changer.

He has passed for 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 62.4% completions, and 117 yards rushing with 2 scores on the ground.

Arkansas held up well in a tough SEC Conference with 371.3 yards allowed and 24 points against per game. They are battle-tested, with a schedule that includes Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, and Alabama.

Clifford shouldn’t scare off the Razorbacks’ defense, which is largely together going into the Outback Bowl. That should be the difference in this one.

Expect Jefferson to get free and go on two or three game-breaking runs. Jefferson is a load to get down when he’s in the open field.

I’m backing Arkansas to get the win by more than 2 points. Jefferson is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country, and it should show.


Penn State vs. Arkansas Pick
Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.

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