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2022 Outback Bowl Preview

2021 Outback Bowl Preview

The 2022 Outback Bowl features the 7-5 Penn State Nittany Lions against the 21st ranked 8-4 Arkansas Razorbacks. Here is the 2022 Outback Bowl preview.

Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5)

On surface a 7-5 record looks like something to be disappointed by. However a lot of good things happened for Penn State this year. James Franklin inked a 10-year contract extension. Senior quarterback Sean Clifford announced he’s coming back for his extra year. And the Nittany Lions were highly competitive in every game this year. Four of the five losses came by four points or less.

Penn State’s offense was good but nothing spectacular. They also had times of inconsistency, particularly in the run game. Sean Clifford kept the passing game as one of the more lethal in the B1G. Penn State’s yards per carry is 13th in the conference at 3.1, just slightly above Purdue. This means increased pressure on Clifford and company which has hurt them in some of the losses this year. The biggest question remaining in the upcoming days is if star receiver Jahan Dotson will opt-out or not.

Penn State’s defense has been very good and consistent. Aside from two shutouts this year, they’ve allowed just one team to score more than 30 points – Ohio State’s juggernaut offense. Unfortunately, they have some significant opt-outs. Top leading tacklers Ellis Brooks and Brandon Smith both will not play. First Team All-B1G safety Jaquan Brisker also recently announced he would be opting out. Brisker was fourth on the team in tackles to go with two interceptions.

No.21 Arkansas Razorbacks (8-4)

Year two under Sam Pittman has continued the upward trajectory from 2020. It’s the highest win total in the regular season and in conference play since Bret Bielema’s most successful year in 2015. He also snapped a 9 game streak to rivals Texas A&M, while also defeating rivals Texas and LSU.

Arkansas has one more feat for the 2021 season – it’s first bowl win since 2015. The offense leans towards the ground game, though largely due to the duel threat capabilities of quarterback KJ Jefferson. Jefferson has been outstanding this year with 21 touchdowns and 3 interceptions along with 554 on the ground and five scores.

His main target Treylon Burks has opted out however so expect the passing game to drop a step. That shouldn’t hold them back too much, Arkansas averaged the second-most rushing yards in the SEC. Aside from Jefferson the Razorbacks can come at you with a trio of running backs, all of which should eclipse the 500-yard mark by the game’s end.

Defensively to hear Bumper Pool’s name a lot. The senior tallied a team-leading 120 tackles – his second season hitting the century mark. In the secondary Penn State will need to make sure they know where Montaric Brown is at all times. The senior ties for the SEC lead in interceptions this season with five.

Prediction

The loss of Jahan Dotson will hurt the Penn State offense that seems to be single-faceted. More than that though, the losses on defense are going to be significant. KJ Jefferson is larger than most of the bodies on the field when he’s out there, and having talented linebackers to keep him in check is a must. Without Penn State’s top two, Jefferson could be very dangerous.

Penn State Nittany Lions: 21, Arkansas Razorbacks: 34

 

 

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