The 2021 Outback Bowl kicks off New Year’s Day between the Arkansas Razorbacks (8-4) and the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5).
First things first, let’s evaluate the missing pieces for both of these teams. Injuries, opt-outs, and coaching changes are a key handicapping factor come bowl season, so let’s make sure we provide you all of the information necessary as you make your decision on the game.
Penn State will be without defensive coordinator Brent Pry, who took the Virginia Tech head coaching job following the conclusion of the regular season. The Nittany Lions will be without star receiver Jahan Dotson, who opted out to focus on the NFL Draft. They’ll also be without their top defensive player in safety, Jaquan Brisker, as well as their two leading tacklers in Brandon Smith and Ellis Brooks.
Those are significant losses for the Nittany Lions, and it’s the main reason we’ll be backing the Razorbacks in this spot. True, they’ll be without star receiver Treylon Burks, but the only other key piece expected to miss the Outback Bowl is defensive end, Tre Williams.
Even without the opt-outs, we’d still be backing the Razorbacks. The only difference is that they’re now the slight favorite instead of the underdog. Arkansas played one of the most challenging schedules in the entire country, and their record shows that. We believe that relatively few teams would’ve faced this gauntlet of a slate and came out the other end with an 8-4 record. It’s been a rough start to bowl season for the SEC, but we expect the Razorbacks to grab a win for the conference on New Year’s Day.
Pick: Arkansas -2
All CFB game predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid
Sign up for Fanduel Sportsbook today and get your first bet risk-free for up to $1,000!