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Penn State Opens as the Betting Favorite in the Outback Bowl

Penn State will play Arkansas in its first Outback Bowl since 2011.

Penn State will play Arkansas in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, a remarkable landing spot for a team that finished the regular season 7-5. The game is scheduled for 12 p.m. EST Jan. 1 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The Lions will make their first appearance in the Outback Bowl since 2011, when they also finished the regular season at 7-5. Florida, in Urban Meyer's last game as head coach, defeated Penn State 37-24. The appearance marked Joe Paterno's last bowl game as Penn State's head coach.

Penn State and Arkansas are playing for the first time.

"We are excited for our upcoming trip to Tampa Bay and to have the opportunity to represent Penn State in the Outback Bowl," Penn State coach James Franklin said in a statement. "I am thrilled for our guys to have one more month together as a family to prepare for Arkansas. Tampa Bay is a great destination for our loyal fan base, and we know they will be there in full force to help send this special group of seniors off on a high note."

Here's what you need to know about the Outback Bowl.

Outback Bowl Fast Facts

  • Who: Penn State (7-5) vs. No. 21 Arkansas (8-4)
  • When: Noon EST Jan. 1
  • Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Streaming: fuboTV
  • Tickets: Ticketmaster
  • Betting Line: Penn State is a 3-point favorite, per SI Sports Book
  • Payout: $6.4 million per team

Penn State's Outback Bowl History

Penn State is playing in the Outback Bowl for the fifth time. The Lions are 3-1, with victories over Auburn (43-14 in 1996), Kentucky (26-14 in 1999) and Tennessee (20-10 in 2007).

Penn State finished the 2010 regular season at 7-5 following a 28-22 loss to Michigan State but earned the bowl upgrade vs. Florida (also 7-5) in part because of the Paterno-Meyer matchup.

Interceptions dominated the game. Penn State cornerback D'Anton Lynn intercepted Florida's John Brantley on the team's first play from scrimmage, and the Lions capitalized with a touchdown.

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But Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin threw five interceptions, including one that Florida's Ahmad Black returned 80 yards for a clinching touchdown in the game's final minutes.

Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno coached his last bowl game in the 2011 Outback Bowl. Florida defeated Penn State 37-24. (Rob Christy/USA Today Sports)

Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno coached his last bowl game in the 2011 Outback Bowl. Florida defeated Penn State 37-24. (Rob Christy/USA Today Sports)

Scouting the Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas opened the season with four straight wins, including one over then No. 10 Texas A&M, to reach No. 8 in the AP Top 25. The Razorbacks then lost three straight (to Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn) and took Alabama to the final minute before falling 42-35. The 35 points were the second-most scored against Alabama this season.

Like Penn State, Arkansas was competitive in its losses, save for the 37-0 decision against Georgia. The Razorbacks fell by one point to Mississippi and were tied late against Alabama.

Quarterback KJ Jefferson has thrown for 2,578 yards this season, with a 66.9 completion rate and a 21-3 touchdown/interception ratio.

Arkansas is making its first bowl appearance since 2016.

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Tracking Penn State's offseason moves

Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry intends to compete with Penn State

Potential candidates to become Penn State's next defensive coordinator