Arkansas football headed to Outback Bowl to play Penn State

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Arkansas football fans can start looking at flights to Tampa, Florida. For the first time, No. 24 Arkansas will play in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. The Razorbacks (8-4) will take on Penn State (7-5) on New Year's Day (11 a.m. CT., ESPN2).

This will be Arkansas' 43rd bowl appearance, its last one coming in the 2016 Belk Bowl. It lost that game, 35-24 to Virginia Tech. The Razorbacks have never played Penn State.

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The first Outback Bowl was played in Tampa in 1986, when it was known as the Hall of Fame Bowl. Arkansas had played in the Birmingham-based edition of the Hall of Fame bowl in 1981. Boston College beat Georgia in that inaugural Tampa game, 27-24. Outback Steakhouse became the title sponsor in 1995.

In 2020, 16 bowl games were canceled due to the ongoing pandemic and lack of available teams, including Arkansas' Texas Bowl matchup with TCU. The Outback Bowl, however, continued, and Ole Miss beat No. 11 Indiana, 26-20.

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Penn State had a rollercoaster season, with wins over Wisconsin and Auburn early but losses to Iowa, Illinois and, in its final game of the regular season, Michigan State, led to a year that wasn't what fans expected of the Nittany Lions. Penn State coach James Franklin, whose name came up in coaching search reports for vacancies at LSU and Southern California, signed a 10-year contract extension in late November.

Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks. You can email her at clong@swtimes.com or follow her on Twitter @christinalong00.

This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Arkansas football picked for Outback Bowl against Penn State

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