After going 7-27 over the past three seasons, the No. 21 Razorbacks (8-4, 4-4) will travel to Tampa, Florida, to take on Penn State in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The bowl will be the first time Arkansas has played in the postseason since losing to Virginia Tech in the 2016 Belk Bowl. Razorback head coach Sam Pittman said his team will have no problem getting excited for the game.
"We're so excited to play in a New Year's Day bowl against a great opponent in Penn State University,” Pittman said Sunday. “It's been an exciting day for us, the University of Arkansas and our program. Can't wait to get down to the sunshine of Tampa, Florida."
The Hogs have not competed in a Florida bowl since 2006, when they lost 17-14 to No. 6 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. They have not won a bowl game since defeating Kansas State 45-23 in the 2015 Liberty Bowl.
“We haven’t been to a bowl, you know what I mean,” Pittman said. “Sometimes you’re at a university and if you’re not in the College (Football) Playoff it’s hard to get them fired up about going to a New Year’s Day bowl. It’s hard. But for us, I think it’s going to be very, very easy to get our kids excited about going to Tampa and playing on New Year’s Day in the Outback Bowl.”
Penn State finished 7-5 on the season and fourth in the Big 10 East. The Hogs and the Nittany Lions have never met on the gridiron, and Arkansas has only played seven games against Big 10 teams in program history. They are 1-6 all-time and 0-4 in bowl games against Big 10 teams.
“We’re excited to play a team like Penn State,” Pittman said. “A lot of tradition there, good football coach, good players.”
Pittman has almost completely turned the Razorback football program around in his two seasons of coaching. The team won four games in two seasons under its previous coach, and has now become one of the top teams in the Southeastern Conference in year two of Pittman’s tenure.
“I’m happy for the state of Arkansas, happy to get down there and get us some nice weather,” Pittman said. “I heard it’s 82 (degrees) or something today. Get down there, have a little fun.”
The Outback Bowl will kickoff at 11 a.m. inside of Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 1. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.