TAMPA, Fla. — As of Wednesday afternoon, five bowl games had been canceled due to COVID outbreaks. Arkansas is set to meet Penn St. in the 36th Outback Bowl on New Year's Day at Raymond James Stadium. Both teams say they're taking all of the steps they can to ensure they both make it to kickoff.
"Our doctors, our trainers, and our players have done a tremendous job with that," Penn St. head coach James Franklin said at Wednesday's news conference. "And we’re going to need to do that not just up until game time because this isn’t just about protecting college football. It’s also about these guys making great choices so they can be safe and healthy throughout the rest of the year and their lives."
Franklin and Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman grew up as fans of the teams they currently coach. They also attended PSU and Razorback football camps in high school. For Pittman, he says every Arkansas game is a trip down memory lane.
"I was one of those people. Trying to get into the game, trying to get a glimpse of the coach on the bus, the players on the bus," Pittman said Wednesday. "I’m honored that I’m the head coach at Arkansas. Yeah, I feel it, all the time."
Penn St. running back and St. Petersburg-native Keyvone Lee is excited to play his first college game next door to his hometown. He's been busy on the field, but the sophomore has been just as busy off the field. Lee's been playing the role of part-time tour guide for those coming in town for the game.
"I will be showing ‘em good places, good food places and all that," Lee joked after practice. "I live at least 20, 30 minutes away, so we don’t have time to go in my city, but I know Tampa a lot. This is my first college game in this city, at home. My family and friends can come see me. I’ve been smiling since I heard we’d be playing in Tampa."
Lee said he has 15 to 20 family members and friends coming to the game, but he's still on the hunt for more tickets.
Kickoff from Raymond James Stadium between the Nittany Lions (7-5) and Razorbacks (8-4) is set for Saturday at 12:05 P.M.