Sunday’s college football bowl machinations produced a slight surprise for Penn State: a clash with Arkansas in the Outback Bowl.
The game will be played at noon on New Year’s Day at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
“We are delighted with our next trip to Tampa Bay and to have the opportunity to represent Penn State in the Outback Bowl,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said in a prepared statement.
“I’m delighted our guys have an extra month together as a family to prepare for Arkansas.”
Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry became head coach of Virginia Tech last week. Franklin said he had not decided on Pry’s successor, or how existing staff would divide Pry’s responsibilities until he was replaced.
“I would love to do that as soon as possible,” Franklin said over the phone on Sunday as he was in the process of recruiting.
“I want to make sure we get the right fit, and that takes time. The other challenge is that with as many jobs as there are right now, a lot of people are fighting for the same guy. ”
The Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) have lost five of their last seven games and will look to redeem themselves and bounce back positively in 2022, when they first meet the Razorbacks (8-4, 4- 4 SEC).
Penn State previously played in the Outback Bowl in 1995, 2006 and 2010. Its last victory was a 20-10 loss to Tennessee in 2006, after which Joe Paterno, sitting alongside an official of the Outback game sponsor. Steakhouse, said to be in Tampa. was great except that “I couldn’t find a decent steak anywhere.”
Heading into last week, which culminated with the main conference championship games, Penn State seemed to be heading for one of three mid-level bowls: The Pinstripe in New York, Music City in Nashville, or Las. Vegas Bowl.
Big Ten champion Michigan made the college football playoffs. This put Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
As bowl officials, the CFP committee, and other partners hosted bowl games, the element of surprise was Michigan State’s landing in the Peach Bowl – one of the so-called New Year’s Six – against Atlantic Coast Conference champion Pitt.
This ranked Iowa in the Citrus Bowl – No. 3, loosely, among the Big Ten Affiliate Bowls – opposite Kentucky.
And that left Penn State competing with Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue, three teams from the Big Ten West Division teams, all 8-4 on aggregate.
Penn State got the nod, apparently because of its reputation for “traveling well,” as well as its season opener loss to Wisconsin in Madison.
Wisconsin will face Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Minnesota drew West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix. Purdue will face Tennessee at Music City.
Arkansas was third in the Western Division of the Southwestern Conference. The Razorbacks started 4-0, including a 20-10 loss in the then fourth week. 7 Texas A&M.
Next, Arkansas was hammered 37-0 by No.1 Georgia and lost three straight games, including a 52-51 loss to Mississippi, now No.8. The Razorbacks have won four of their last five. games, with the only 42-35 loss to Alabama in Week 11.
Arkansas has just had 2 to 10 consecutive seasons.
Coach Sam Pittman said on Sunday his players “are incredibly excited. I don’t think most of these have gone to a bowl yet, so I imagine that will make it easier to practice. They will be ready. ”
A footnote to this match: Pittman and Franklin became clients of uber-agent Jimmy Sexton in 2021.
For more information on tickets, visit ticketmaster.com or gopsusports.com.