Five reasons why Arkansas will beat Penn State

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  • Sean Clifford
    QB, Penn State University
  • Jahan Dotson
    American football wide receiver

With Penn State dealing with a flurry of opt-outs for the Outback Bowl matchup against Arkansas, the tables have shifted in favor of the Razorbacks.

It seems likely Penn State very well could go down with a fight in this one.

Here are the top five reasons why Arkansas will beat Penn State.

Pressuring Sean Clifford

AP Photo/Morry Gash

We have seen before how much Sean Clifford struggles under deep pressure. Arkansas averages just 215.1 offensive yards per game given up. It will be different without Penn State’s star wideout Jahan Dotson, but the Razorbacks do have the talent on defense to make key stops to win this game.

No Jahan Dotson

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

This was mentioned above, but not having Jahan Dotson is huge for the Razorbacks. Dotson has had a sensational season and it wasn’t too surprising when he made his decision opt-out earlier this week to prep for the draft. This will be Parker Washington’s first true game to show what he is capable of and a glimpse of what some of next year’s wide receiver core could look like.

Penn State is without key defensive players

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State was affected greatly by the opt-outs, especially on the defensive side. Brandon Smith has had an impressive career at Penn State and many think he has the traits to be like former Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons. Ellis Brooks is also another player that will be a huge loss for Penn State. Brooks didn’t get a ton of the spotlight this season, as there were multiple other players who also made an impact on the defense. One might think of Shaka Toney from last year, who was in a similar situation where Penn State edge rusher Odafe Oweh had much of the spotlight after Parsons opted out out due to COVID-19. However, Toney still performed at a high level and it was a bit surprising to see him fall as far as he did in the draft.

Penn State will also be without starting safety Jaquan Brisker, who has soared up the draft boards and has even found his way into first-round mock drafts.

Then, we have Temple transfer Arnold Ebiketie. He is a violent pass rusher that is a potential sleeper with his talent and how big of a leap he has taken this season.

These are a few of the several Penn State players that have opted out (Derrick Tangelo also opted out), and it’s likely we could see them struggle because of it.

Penn State Run Game

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

This has been one of the major components mentioned on this list and it makes sense. Penn State has failed to find an identity in their run game all season. Despite seeing flashes from running back Keyvone Lee throughout the year, it still wasn’t enough to really get the ball moving on the ground game. Plus, with Dotson out, we very well could also see a bit more of the run offense, which will be crucial for Penn State to have a productive game.

Penn State hasn't beaten anyone competitive all season

Auburn might the only one (at the time when they were ranked). Despite Treylon Bruks opting out of this matchup, Arkansas will still be a tough opponent for Penn State. They have been up-and-down all season, and have lost games that should have never been close. This will be a challenge for them.

Penn State is in for an intriguing matchup against Arkansas. However, not having key players for this game will likely hurt them and Arkansas has a strong chance to come out on top.

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