Tusk to Tail: Hogs have the ‘bullets’ to beat whatever a ‘Nittany’ is

We are all holding our breath this week hoping and praying that the Outback Bowl matchup between the Hogs and Nittany Lions doesn’t get canceled because of COVID protocols. Arkansas went through that last year with TCU and the Texas Bowl.

With each passing day, I was getting more confident until seeing UCLA cancel their Holiday Bowl appearance five hours before kickoff Tuesday night.

There is a small but mighty crew of Tusk to Tail going down for the game. Todd will be joined by Jeb and another half dozen die hards. Some plan to meet at The Winghouse of Tampa or Thomas P’s sports bar Friday afternoon to watch both of the playoff games. The Winghouse is a couple of blocks from Raymond James Stadium, has a ton of TV screens and good reviews on food.

“Let’s be honest, though,” Todd said, “As long as the beer is cold, that’s all that matters.”

The University of Arkansas has not announced any New Year’s Eve party nor mentioned any pregame tailgate before the 11 a.m. (CST) kickoff. In the past, there have been some great New Year’s parties thrown by the Alumni Association in Orlando for the Citrus Bowl and Dallas at the Cotton Bowl. If there is not a pregame tailgate put on at the last minute by the UA, the Winghouse looks to be a great place to hit before kickoff.

As far as game day and tailgating, the early kickoff puts a wrench in any type of formal setup. Jeb has a parking pass in Lot 6D, so our gang will meet some friends there for an informal but fun pregame party. We will go light on the snacks and offer drinks only.

Penn State (7-5) vs. #21 Arkansas (8-4)
Todd: Tis the season to opt out, apparently. Two All-Americans and two All-Big 10 players have opted out of playing in the bowl game this week, along with Treylon Burks and Tre Williams. Williams opted out before Coach Pittman could suspend him for his DWI arrest. Props to Penn State for not completely opting out of the game as a team with as many as they have had. This is the Hogs’ first bowl game since their second half implosion to Virginia Tech in the 2016 Belk Bowl. Arkansas has become a slight favorite due to all the Penn State opt outs. I think the point spread should be higher, personally. Penn St. has lost 5 of its last 7. The Hogs have won 4 out of last 5, with the only loss being to playoff contender Alabama by 7. The Hogs have played without Burks this year and know how to adjust. Tyson Morris has recovered from the flu, so he is back at wide receiver. With the Penn State defense being depleted, I think KJ and the tailback crew can gut them and mix in some home runs on the passing game to win this by two scores or more. The Hogs have too many bullets and the Nittany Lions not enough. The Razorbacks start off 2022 with a bang. Arkansas 31, Penn State 21

Willard: This doesn’t even feel like a real game to me, more like the last day of high school when everyone’s just ready to get out. I half expect Pittman to walk into the locker room shirtless with a lamp shade on his head just to have some fun. Maybe because we beat Texas, A&M, LSU, and Mizzou this just feels like house money we’re playing with. But to the degree they take it more seriously than I do, I’ll guess Arkansas starts slow but finishes strong (as we always do) and wins 38-35.

Sam: Penn State and Arkansas have lost a few players to the draft or transfer portal. I feel like the Hogs want this game more, and it’s been several years since our last bowl game. I believe the Hogs will rely heavily on the running game and throw the ball enough to keep Penn State honest. Hogs 31-17 over the Nittany Lions.

David: Seriously, what is a Nittany Lion? Can only lions be Nittany? Are there Nittany horses and dogs and such? Also, how could anyone continue to support a program that enabled children to be molested before covering it up for the sake of their beloved football coach and team? Hogs by 90.

Mac: Bowl games are something of a crap shoot, and more so this year as you don’t know how committed kids are or if a game will even be played. That said, this Razorback team seems dialed in and wants the Outback Bowl trophy added to their collection. Not having #16 and #55 definitely hurts, but it’s also an opportunity for other players to step up. The one variable is new Penn State Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz. He may add some new wrinkles that aren’t on film, but OC Kendall Briles will be ready with a hot iron to flatten anything like that out. Coach Pittman puts a bow on this season finishing 9-4. Arkansas 24, Penn State 20.

Dale: The Hogs started out as underdogs, but as optouts increased on the Penn State defensive side, we are now a one-point favorite. I can see that. Penn State struggles to run the ball. Without their best wide receiver, that could slow them down even more. For the most part, Arkansas played okay with one dimensional teams. This game will still come down to the play of the QB’s for both teams. If KJ has time to find the open receivers and the run game can get 200+ yards, the Hogs win. Penn State’s D is missing their two best tacklers, so that helps to get those rushing yards. I think the game will be closer than it should, but I like the Hogs 24-17 over Penn State.

Editor’s note: Now in its 10th year, Tusk to Tail is the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.

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