Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Where Razorbacks fall in SEC's bowl selection process
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman (left) receives the Outback Bowl trophy from Outback Bowl chairwoman Rita Lowman following the Razorbacks' 24-10 victory over Penn State on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' football team will play in a bowl game following its 42-27 victory over 14th-ranked Ole Miss on Saturday.
The Razorbacks (6-5, 3-4 SEC) are among 10 SEC teams that are eligible for a bowl by winning six games. Three other teams — Missouri, Vanderbilt and Auburn — can become bowl eligible with victories in their regular-season finales this week.
Arkansas is scheduled to play at Missouri (5-6, 2-5) on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
The SEC has nine bowl tie-ins, excluding New Year's Six bowl games that are affiliated with the College Football Playoff. A tiered selection process takes place after the New Year's Six bowl games are finalized.
All bowl matchups will be announced Dec. 4, the same day the playoff matchups are set.
Arkansas' most likely post-season destination will be one of the SEC's "group of six" bowl games, which this year includes the Las Vegas Bowl; ReliaQuest (formerly Outback) Bowl in Tampa, Fla.; Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.; Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.; Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn.; and Texas Bowl in Houston.
The Las Vegas Bowl is affiliated with the SEC for the first time, though Arkansas played in the bowl game as an SEC team in 2000 — a 31-14 loss to UNLV. The bowl's status has been elevated since it moved to Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
The Las Vegas Bowl and the Duke's Mayo Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., alternate as SEC bowl games every other year.
Arkansas played in the Outback Bowl last season and was selected to play in the Texas Bowl in 2020, when post-season win requirements were waived due to the covid-19 disruptions. The Razorbacks' bowl game in 2020 was canceled after a covid-19 interruption for their scheduled opponent, TCU.
Arkansas last played in the Texas Bowl in 2014 — a 31-7 victory over Texas. The Razorbacks have not played in the Gator Bowl since 1981 or the Music City Bowl since 2002.
The Liberty Bowl has hosted Arkansas twice since 2009, most recently to end the 2015 season when the Razorbacks defeated Kansas State 45-23. Memphis is the closest bowl site to the state of Arkansas, and the Razorbacks have strong fan support in the stands for each game there.
All "group of six" bowl assignments are made by the SEC office, in consultation with the bowl games and the teams.
If Arkansas falls past the selection process for the "group of six" bowls, they would almost certainly play in either the Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl or the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa. Both bowls have SEC affiliations if there are enough teams from the league to play in those games. ESPN Events selects the teams who will play in those two bowl games.
Arkansas' quality of bowl game will improve with the more SEC teams that are involved in the playoff or the New Year's Six bowl games.
The highest-ranked SEC team that does not participate in the four-team playoff will play in the Sugar Bowl, and other highly ranked SEC teams could be invited to participate in one of the New Year's Six bowls.
The Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., selects the best SEC team that is not involved in a New Year's Six bowl.
Bowl Game (Opponent), Date, Time (Central), Network
Las Vegas Bowl (vs. Pac-12), Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m., ABC
Gasparilla Bowl (vs. American), Dec. 23, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Birmingham Bowl (vs. American), Dec. 27, TBD, ESPN
Liberty Bowl (vs. Big 12), Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Texas Bowl (vs. Big 12), Dec. 28, 8 p.m., ESPN
Gator Bowl (vs. ACC), Dec. 30, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
Music City Bowl (vs. Big Ten), Dec. 31, 11 a.m., ABC
ReliaQuest Bowl (vs. Big Ten/ACC), Jan. 2, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Citrus Bowl (vs. Big Ten), Jan. 2, Noon, ABC
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