The conference the rest of American loves to hate, the SEC, hasn’t had its best bowl showing in 2021.
Alabama and Georgia may be the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the College Football Playoff, but as of Thursday night, every other team from the Southeastern Conference has struggled this bowl season, save South Carolina, which upset North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Thursday.
Arkansas is the SEC’s next best hope. The Razorbacks play Penn State in the Outback Bowl at 11 a.m. CT. Later in the day, the two teams Arkansas battled with most of the season in the SEC hierarchy – Ole Miss and Kentucky – will get their shot, too.
The Hogs haven’t fared especially well against Big Ten opponents in bowl history. They’re 1-6-1 against the conference in the postseason. But they’ve never played Penn State, even if they have played its coach. Nittany Lions coach James Franklin was at Vanderbilt in 2011 when the Razorbacks won, 31-28.
Arkansas will have an edge of history, anyway, though, given the game. SEC teams are 16-10 in the Outback Bowl against Big Ten teams since the two started playing each other in the New Year’s Day game.
The SEC and the Big Ten were the best two conferences in FBS all season, even if the SEC – which is been, arguably, the best conference in the game for the last 20 years – was a bit down in the middle and at the bottom this year. That much is reflected in the bowl outcomes.
But even if most of college football will be rooting against the Hogs on Saturday, an Arkansas win would put the Hogs in position for its best future in the sport since the early 2010s.