Arkansas vs. Penn State prediction, pick for the 2022 Outback Bowl

What are the current odds for the 2022 Outback Bowl, and what is our prediction and pick for the Arkansas vs. Penn State matchup?

After their best season since 2015, the Arkansas Razorbacks take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Outback Bowl. Can they win their first college football bowl game in five years or will Penn State end a bounce-back year on a high? Let’s take a look at the current Arkansas vs. Penn State odds and make a pick and prediction for the 2022 Outback Bowl.

Arkansas vs. Penn State betting odds and trends

  • Spread: Arkansas -1 (Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
  • Total: 47.5 (Under -120, Over +100)
  • Moneyline: Arkansas -120, Penn State +100

Are you looking to rake it in on the Razorbacks? Will the Nittany Lions give you a financial boost to start the New Year? If you’re looking to make a little money predicting the future, it’s worth considering the past before you lay down your hard-earned cash.

In one of the tighter betting lines in college football bowl season, DraftKings favors the Razorbacks in this Arkansas vs. Penn State clash. Arkansas is 2-1 this season when they’re the moneyline favorite by less than -200. Penn State is 1-3 as a moneyline underdog. With 73.2% of games this season won by the favorite, Arkansas appears to be a good value for the 2022 Outback Bowl.

Although Arkansas is 7-4-1 against the spread this season, they’re only 3-3 when the favorite. That should urge caution. However, given the minuscule spread line and the fact that Penn State is just 2-2 as an against-the-spread underdog, if you’re taking Arkansas to win outright, you should take them against the spread as well.

College football bowl season is a time to pretend that the under doesn’t exist! This is especially true when you consider that Arkansas has surpassed the 47.5 spread in nine of their games this season. However, Penn State has covered the over just three times this season. With both teams missing their star offensive talent, Arkansas vs. Penn State could be the bowl game that fails to live up to the high-scoring nature of bowl season.

Arkansas vs. Penn State prediction

The 2022 Outback Bowl will see the first-ever Arkansas vs. Penn State matchup. It’s also the first time that Arkansas has appeared in the Outback Bowl. Penn State, on the other hand, has featured in the bowl game four times, holding a 3-1 record after losing their most recent appearance in Tampa to the Florida Gators.

The Nittany Lions also have a 30-16-2 winning record in bowl games. They’ll be looking to continue this winning tradition after missing out on a bowl game spot last season for the first time since Bill O’Brien was the head coach in 2013.

After suffering their worst record since 2003 last season, this year has been something of a bounce-back for James Franklin’s team. They started the season with five consecutive victories, ranking as high as fourth in the nation in early October. Although the season slipped away from them down the stretch, getting back above .500 in a Big Ten conference that has been extremely competitive can be considered a small success.

Adding an eighth win in the Outback Bowl would make the season seem even more successful. However, they’ll have to overcome not just the Razorbacks, but a raft of opt-outs from their own team for this Arkansas vs. Penn State clash. Their success has been built on defense this year, allowing just 16.8 points per game. Yet, they’ll be without leading tackler Ellis Brooks, star linebacker Brandon Smith, and potential first-round safety Jaquan Brisker.

Opt-outs could define the destination of the Outback Bowl

At the time of writing, defensive end Arnold Ebiketie was still expected to play. The Temple transfer has been a revelation this season, rising up draft boards after racking up 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. If he does play, he’ll be joined by ball-hawking defensive back Ji’ayir Brown, who has snagged 4 interceptions this season.

Unfortunately for college football fans, opt-outs have deprived us of incredible offensive talent for both teams in the Outback Bowl. Penn State’s offense has run through Jahan Dotson this year, with the diminutive wide receiver tallying 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Nittany Lions. Although Parker Washington and Keandre Lambert-Smith can provide a spark, Sean Clifford missing his main weapon doesn’t bode well for a high-scoring affair.

For Arkansas, Treylon Burks has been the focal point of the offense. He’s averaged 16.8 yards per catch this season on his way to 1,123 yards and 11 touchdowns. His opt-out is a massive blow to the Razorbacks’ offense. Furthermore, Trelon Smith has also opted out, removing one of a trio of running backs with 80+ carries for Arkansas this season.

Despite their offensive losses, Arkansas should have the advantage over Penn State in the Outback Bowl. Quarterback KJ Jefferson provides a more dynamic passing threat than his counterpart, in addition to his ability on the ground. With the Arkansas defense expected to field their potential NFL Draft prospects, including John Ridgeway, Grant Morgan, Bumper Pool, and Montaric Brown, they should have the firepower on both sides of the ball to win their first bowl game since the 2015 Liberty Bowl.

Arkansas vs. Penn State Prediction: Arkansas 24, Penn State 21

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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