The bowl games have been set across the college football landscape as there will be five bowl games taking place on New Year’s Day.
The Outback Bowl will kick off at 12 p.m. EST on January 1, 2022, and the game will be between the No. 22 Arkansas Razorbacks and the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Arkansas finished the season with an 8-4 record, which was good enough to make them the No. 22 ranked team in the country. While Penn State didn’t finish as a top 25 ranked program, they had a 7-5 record, giving them another disappointing season under James Franklin.
Continue reading below to find out my prediction for the Outback Bowl and what my favorite bets are for the game.
All NCAAF gameday odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and updated as of 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 30.
Arkansas vs. Penn State Prediction
Even though both teams had similar records, Arkansas had a much more impressive season. Sam Pittman, the head coach of the Razorbacks, took on the challenge of taking the job of a program that went 2-10 in 2019.
In his first season at the helm, Pittman led Arkansas to a 3-7 record in 2020, with growing pains being an expected obstacle. However, in just his second year with the program, Pittman helped the Razorbacks earn an 8-4 record with a tough SEC schedule.
Arkansas’ offense is led by quarterback K.J. Jefferson, who operates as a dual-threat quarterback. Jefferson recorded 2,578 passing yards and 21 touchdowns through the air while also leading the team in rushing with 554 rushing yards and five scores.
Treylon Burks is regarded as one of the top wideouts expected to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. Burks concluded the regular season with 67 receptions, 1,123 yards, and 11 touchdowns for Arkansas.
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Meanwhile, Penn State’s offense can be hit-or-miss with Sean Clifford under center. In his senior season with Penn State, Clifford concluded the year with 2,912 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, and six interceptions.
While he isn’t the most athletic quarterback, Clifford can create with his legs, which Arkansas will want to focus on preventing. The last thing the Razorbacks want is for Clifford to be able to escape the pocket and find Jahad Dotson down the field often.
Dotson led the Nittany Lions with 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. It should be an enticing game to watch as we get two highly-touted wideouts in Burks and Dotson taking the field in the Outback Bowl.
Penn State will want to win this game with their defense, but I don’t believe they’ll have enough to slow down Jefferson and Arkansas’ offensive attack. The Razorbacks will have success on the ground, and Jefferson will connect with Burks often enough in the aerial game to give Arkansas their first bowl game win since 2016.
Outback Bowl Prediction: Arkansas 31, Penn State 24
Outback Bowl Best Bets
CFB Betting Record: 13-5-0
Best Bet: Arkansas -2 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
Coming into this game, Arkansas is considered a 2-point favorite. Given how both teams performed during the regular season, I’m not buying that the Nittany Lions should be such slight underdogs in this contest.
Clifford can be sporadic at times, and in high-pressure games, he’s typically struggled for Penn State. Even though this is his final game with the Nittany Lions, Clifford will be tasked with out-dueling a talented quarterback in Jefferson.
Arkansas has the better running game and a more dynamic offense overall, while Penn State does possess a much better defense. However, the Razorbacks were able to hang 35 points on Alabama earlier this season, so they can score on solid defenses.
Entering this game, Arkansas holds a 7-4-1 record against the spread, while Penn State has a 7-5 record against the spread. With the game taking place on a neutral site, give me Arkansas to keep the game within a field goal or win the game outright.
Best Bet: Over 48 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
We’ve seen Arkansas and Penn State both have their fair share of low-scoring games this season. But while Penn State typically preferred to keep the scoring at a minimum with their defense, Arkansas can score points in bunches in certain environments.
Once again, Arkansas was able to record 35 points against Alabama this season, along with seven other games where they exceeded 30+ points. Jefferson and Burks are a handful for defenses to stop, and I don’t believe the Nittany Lions will be able to contain the dynamic duo.
Clifford is also capable of mustering up points through the air or with his legs, and it’s not like Arkansas has an elite defense. That being said, Penn State hit the over in only three of their 12 games this season.
But with Arkansas getting an opportunity to play Penn State away from Beaver Stadium and in the confines of Raymond James Stadium in Florida, I’ll side with their record of 7-5 at hitting the over. It shouldn’t be too difficult for these teams to score 46+ combined points on New Year’s Day.
Thanks for reading our Outback Bowl Predictions & Best Bets! For more CFB betting tips, check out our CFB Pick of the Day.