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Penn State vs. Arkansas: Live stream, watch online, TV channel, Outback Bowl prediction, pick, odds, spread

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Penn State battles No. 21 Arkansas in the Outback Bowl  on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa as college football fans kick the new year off with a bang. There is no better day on the calendar and no better way than to start it with a classic Big Ten-SEC matchup.

The Nittany Lions have played what’s felt like two different seasons in 2021. They began the year with five straight wins, including victories over Wisconsin and Auburn that helped propel the Lions to No. 4 in the AP Top 25. That’s as high as they’d climb, though, as a loss to Iowa began a three-game skid that included losses to Ohio State and — most surprisingly of all — Illinois at home in nine overtimes. The Lions lost five of their last seven games to finish the regular season at 7-5 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten.

Arkansas has been a streaky team itself. The Razorbacks started 4-0 with upset victories over Texas and Texas A&M before dropping their next three games to get to 4-3. The Hogs would recover by winning four of their last five, with the lone loss being a 42-35 defeat on the road against Alabama. Their 8-4 mark overall and 4-4 record in conference were good enough for a third-place finish in the SEC West.

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This Outback Bowl meeting will be the first between the schools. That might be a surprise considering how many times the Big Ten and SEC run into one another during bowl season, but don’t forget that Penn State didn’t join the Big Ten until 1993 and Arkansas wasn’t a member of the SEC until 1991.

Penn State vs. Arkansas: Need to know

Both teams will be without key players: It’s a reality of bowl season now. Non-playoff games often see key players sit out to prepare for the NFL Draft while other players hit the transfer portal and are no longer on the roster. The Outback Bowl will be no different. While James Franklin won’t confirm anything, plenty of Penn State stars like WR Jahan Dotson, edge rusher Arnold Ebekitie, safety Jaquan Brisker and linebackers Ellis Brooks and Brandon Smith have announced they’re out of the game. On the other sideline, Arkansas will be without stud receiver Treylon Burks. That means we won’t get the chance to see either team at full strength, but the silver lining for fans is they’ll get a better idea of what the future holds, particularly on the Penn State side.

Penn State struggles to run the ball: It feels like a problem as old as time by now, but Penn State again struggled to move the ball on the ground this season. It’s one of the reasons the Nittany Lions weren’t able to maintain their hot start. The Nittany Lions finished 13th in the Big Ten in yards per carry (3.1), rushing touchdowns (11) and yards post-contact per rush (2.2). Now, somebody needs to finish at the bottom of the conference, but it is a surprise for it to be one of the most talented teams in the league. If there’s any good news for Penn State, it’s that Arkansas was pretty average against the run defensively (62nd nationally in yards per carry and 70th in yards per game).

Arkansas’ first bowl appearance since 2016: No matter the game’s result, it’s hard to consider the 2021 season as anything but a success for the Razorbacks. They reached as high as No. 8 in the AP Top 25 earlier this season, and now they’ll be playing in their first bowl game since the 2016 Belk Bowl. However, the Razorbacks are hoping for a better result this time around, as they lost that game to Virginia Tech 35-24.

How to watch Outback Bowl live

Game: Outback Bowl
Date
: Saturday, Jan. 1 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium — Tampa
TV: ESPN2 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

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Outback Bowl prediction, picks

Featured Game | Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

When you consider the sheer number of bodies Penn State is missing for this game and the roles they play, it’s hard to go any direction other than Arkansas. Offensively, Dotson was the release valve for a team that couldn’t run the ball. Defensively, they’ll be without the heart of the unit. While Burks is a terrific player and a massive loss for the Razorbacks, he’s a lot easier to replace than all the players the Nittany Lions won’t have, so let’s not overthink this one. Prediction: Arkansas (+1)

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Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.



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Blue Jays’ Berrios continues head-scratching season in drubbing vs. Guardians

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TORONTO – That Yusei Kikuchi is an unstable element in the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation shouldn’t be a total surprise. Sure, more was expected from the left-hander when he was signed for $36 million over three years out of the lockout, but it was a high-risk, high-upside play and the type of season he’s slogging through was very much on the spectrum of possibility.

The Blue Jays, barring a surprise, will need him to make a start next week against the Baltimore Orioles and then, with Ross Stripling likely set for a return after throwing five shutout innings for triple-A Buffalo during a rehab start Friday at Syracuse, they’ll have a decision to make.

Far more jarring for the Blue Jays is the head-scratching season of Jose Berrios, who for the second time in 2022 allowed eight earned runs, this time over four innings of a dispiriting 8-0 drubbing from the Cleveland Guardians on Friday night.

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The latest drubbing for the ace right-hander signed to a $131-million, seven-year extension over the winter came exactly one week after a rough outing at Minnesota, where he allowed five runs in 3.2 innings. In six July starts preceding that one, Berrios had seemingly turned the corner, pitching to a 3.00 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 36 innings.

But while the wide divergence between his home/road splits are often raised as a talking point, a more troubling split is that in 15 outings against teams better than .500, his ERA is 6.61 while in eight starts versus sub-.500 clubs it’s 3.77.

Now, worth noting is that mixed in there are strong performances against Houston, St. Louis, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. Clearly, though, he isn’t getting away with as much against better lineups.

Take Friday, for example.

Berrios cruised through the first two innings before hitting No. 8 hitter Austin Hedges with one out in the third. Will Benson followed with a single and then Steven Kwan laid down a perfect bunt that just stayed fair down the third base line to load the bases.

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Amed Rosario then roped a curveball just under the zone up the middle for a two-run single and after a Jose Ramirez sacrifice fly to centre brought home a third run, Josh Naylor of Mississauga, Ont., sent this 94.3 m.p.h. fastball over the wall in left to make it 5-0.

Really, it wasn’t a bad pitch.


The next inning, a three-run shot by Ramirez that made it 8-0 was even more audacious, the star third baseman golfing this Berrios changeup over the wall in right-centre.


It’s obscene and while both homers count against his pitching line, it’s reason to believe that Berrios isn’t necessarily in crisis, even though he’s far from being at his best.

Regardless, the Blue Jays, at 60-51 in the rapidly clustering wild-card standings, are facing their first real period of challenge under interim manager John Schneider having lost five times in their past six outings, each against a team above .500.

They’re now 29-39 against teams with winning records, worse than Seattle, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Minnesota, the four teams closest around them.

Complicating matters is that their offence, in the ongoing absence of George Springer, hasn’t been able to overcome some of the pitching staff’s recent blips.

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Cal Quantrill of Port Hope, Ont., primarily riding a sinker-cutter mix, matched a season-high with seven strikeouts and allowed just one hit, a one-out double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., in the fourth that extended the all-star first baseman’s hit streak to 21 games.

Digging out of early five-run holes isn’t easy, but seizing a game early at the plate could help ease the burden on the staff at times, too.

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Padres GM Preller says they need to get to a point of trust with Tatis

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Just a week and a half ago, the Padres had to be feeling pretty good about themselves. They were in playoff position and had just had a huge trade deadline, landing multiple big-name players, including 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto. Friday, though, the team suffered a bit of a gut punch. Fellow young star Fernando Tatis, Jr. has been suspended for 80 games for violating the league’s drug policy, as he failed a PED test. 

Keep in mind that Tatis suffered a fractured wrist in a motorcycle accident during the offseason. When asked the date of his accident, Tatis replied with a question: “Which one?” 

Which motorcycle accident? In the same offseason? 

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And now on top of that, Tatis has been suspended into next May. He’ll miss all of the 2022 season, essentially due to poor decision-making. There’s a phrase I learned from a coach long ago that has stuck with me for years. “Control what you can control.” You can’t control the umpires, you can’t control the weather, you can’t control how the opposing team plays. You can control your decision-making, though, among other things. 

Tatis got in a motorcycle accident last offseason and apparently decided to keep riding the bike. His wrist was injured and he didn’t tell anyone about it until reporting to camp in March. These are bad decisions that kept Tatis out of the Padres’ lineup into August. And now, on top of that, we learned that more issues with his decision-making have resulted in him being out another 80 games. 

Padres general manager A.J. Preller had some words that were much more stern than we’re used to seeing from from office execs when addressing one of their stars. 

“I think we’re hoping that from the offseason to now, that there would be some maturity,” said Preller, via The Athletic. “And obviously with the news today, it’s more of a pattern and something we’ve got to dig a little bit more into. I’m sure he’s very disappointed, but at the end of the day, it’s one thing to say it. You have to start by showing it with your actions.” 

“I think what we need to get to is a point in time where we trust,” Preller said, via San Diego Union-Tribune. “Over the course of the last six or seven months, I think that’s been something that we haven’t really been able to have.” 

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Harsh? Probably, but it’s pretty spot on. 

Tatis is only 23 years old, but his father played in parts of 11 seasons in the majors. The concept of being a responsible big-league player shouldn’t be new. 

As one of the most talented players in baseball, Tatis should be responsible to his teammates. Remember, they were in playoff position last year and collapsed down the stretch. They have played well in his absence and were gearing up to add a major talent in pursuit of a deep playoff run and maybe the Padres’ first World Series title. Instead, they’ll have to do without him. 

He’s also on the second year of a 14-year, $340 million contract, which means he needs to be responsible to management and ownership. As Preller alluded to, Tatis hasn’t come through on this one so far. 

The best bet here is the PED suspension scared Tatis straight and he’ll grow a lot between now and when his suspension has been served, moving into the future with better decision-making. Then again, shouldn’t the first motorcycle accident have been the wake-up call? 

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Raquel Rodriguez & Aliyah face Xia Li & Shotzi in the Women's Tag Team Tournament | WWE on FOX

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Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah went head-to-head with Xia Li and Shotzi in the Women’s Tag Team Tournament on Friday Night SmackDown.



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