Halftime: Penn State 10, Arkansas 7

By Matt de Bear on January 1, 2022 at 1:44 pm
Jan 1, 2022; Tampa, FL, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws the ball under pressure from Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Zach Williams (56) during the first half during the 2022 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

It was a slow and sloppy start to the game, but after working off the rust, the Nittany Lions and Razorbacks have put together a rather entertaining 30 minutes at the Outback Bowl.

  • Not surprisingly, the Nittany Lion defense took some time to settle in. With five starters, plus coordinator Brent Pry not with the team due to opt outs, and Pry's hiring at Virginia Tech, Arkansas was able to establish a bit of a rhythm offensively. Safety Ji'Ayir Brown made arguably the biggest defensive play of the game picking off KJ Jefferson in the end zone to end the Hogs' first drive of the game. The junior safety made a second pick late in the half to preserve the lead.
  • Wide receiver Parker Washington has taken advantage of Jahan Dotson's absence to put up an impressive half. He has four receptions for 77 yards, and a big 18 yard punt return. 
  • Sean Clifford has been a bit inconsistent, but has tossed a pair of gorgeous deep balls. The first to Washington set up a missed field goal, but the second hit a wide open KeAndre Lambert-Smith for the Lions' sole touchdown. However, he did miss a second sure touchdown when he overthrew a wide open Theo Johnson late in the half.
  • On the defensive side, Smith Vilbert is having himself an afternoon. The redshirt sophomore has already tied an Outback Bowl record with three sacks. 
  • Curtis Jacobs has also been noticeable with a sack of his own, plus a number of solid open field stops.
  • Jesse Luketa might be playing in his final Penn State game, and has made several solid plays of his own.
  • Special mention to the Penn State running game, which has shown signs of life with a pair of big runs in the first half.
  • The less said about the end of the first half for both teams, the better. Both sides had a chance to add points, and neither did in the most ridiculous possible way.