The New Year is getting started off right with this Outback Bowl matchup. We have two power five teams that are a great matchup for the first game of the new year. The matchup is between the Big Ten vs SEC. The two teams that are in this matchup are Penn State (7-5) and Arkansas (8-4). The Nittany Lions are taking on the Razorbacks in this New Year’s Six showdown. With that being said here is my preview for the Outback Bowl.
The Penn State Nittany Lions bread and butter on offense is their passing attack. They average 274.4 passing yards per game which makes them ranked 39th in the country. This offense also averages just under 400 total yards of offense per game as well. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is the focal point of this offense. He has thrown for 2,912 passing yards to go along with 20 passing touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The Nittany Lions will be without their top receiver Jahan Dotson and he opted out for the NFL Draft. Their number one target in this game will be Mitchell Tinsley. Tinsley has 87 receptions on the season to go along with 1,402 receiving yards to go along with 14 receiving touchdowns. This passing offense is the big focal point in this offense, but they might need to get a running game going against this Arkansas defense.
Defensively, the Penn State defense gives up 358 total yards of offense per game and they only allow 16.8 points per game. Penn State has faced some good teams in the Big Ten this season and have put together a good season. Penn State will need to contain the Arkansas running game if they want to win this bowl matchup.
This Arkansas team came out of nowhere in 2021. I did not expect them to be as good as they were this season. The Razorbacks average 454.8 total yards of offense per game and is ranked 20th in the nation in rushing yards per game (217.3). This offense allows scores 31.5 points per game as well. Quarterback KJ Jefferson is the focal point of this Arkansas offense. Jefferson has thrown for 2,578 passing yards to go along with 21 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also adds 554 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns as well. Jefferson’s number one target is Treylon Burks. Burks has 66 receptions to go along with 1,104 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. This offense is a threat, but they will have to do their best to keep Penn State’s defense on their toes.
Defensively, Arkansas has been pretty good this season. This defense averages 381.9 total yards of offense per game, 215.1 passing yards per game and gives up 24 points per game as well. This team is also very good at stopping opponents on third down, as opponents have a 32.9 percent conversion rate on that down. If Arkansas wants to win this game, they are going to need to contain their passing attack.
Arkansas is a 2.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 48. I would lean the over in this bowl matchup. A little worry on my end about this being a low scoring affair so I am staying away from the total. My official play here is Arkansas -2.5. I love the Razorbacks in this spot and I think that their offense will be the key difference maker in this one. Ride the Razorbacks all the way to the bank in this bowl matchup.
-Chris Jones (@cjoneswho1212)
Featured Image (collegefootballnow.org)
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