Can Liberty Bowl Appearance Help Arkansas Rebound From .500 Season?

Can Liberty Bowl Appearance Help Arkansas Rebound From .500 Season?
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

Twenty of the 131 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision posted a 6-6 record during the 2022 college football season.

One of those teams was Sam Pittman’s Arkansas Razorbacks, which went from 9-4 and on the cusp of an SEC West title in 2021 to a .500 record this fall.

Behind single-digit defeats to Texas A&M (23-21), Liberty (21-19), LSU (13-10), and Missouri (29-27), Pittman’s team fell off from the pace it set last season.

The Razorbacks went 3-0 out of the gate against Cincinnati, South Carolina and Missouri State to .500 in stunning fashion, disappointing many fans participating in Arkansas sports betting.

Ahead of Arkansas’ bowl game against fellow 6-6 squad Kansas in the 2022 Simmons Bank Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 28, broke down how .500 bowl teams have fared the following fall.

FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Razorbacks as a 4.5-point over Kansas with a moneyline of -184.

Best Follow-up Seasons for 6-6 Bowl Teams

Year Team Record
2013🏈 Michigan State13-1
2017🏈 UCF13-0
2016🏈 Washington12-2
2017🏈 TCU11-3
2018🏈 Utah State11-2
2019🏈 Minnesota11-2
2015🏈 North Carolina11-3
Note: Since 2013. Doesn’t include 2020 season.

Worst Follow-up Seasons for 6-6 Bowl Teams

Year Team Record
2013🏈 Purdue1-11
2017🏈 Baylor1-11
2018🏈 Georgia State2-10
2013🏈 Air Force2-10
Note: Since 2013. Doesn’t include 2020 season.

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How 6-6 Bowl Teams Have Fared Afterwards

Over the past decade, teams that finish the college football regular season .500 usually finish around the same the following year.

In 2022, the 19 teams that went 6-6 last season combined to go 119-118, with UNC and LSU posting the best year-end record (at 9-3). Old Dominion, Boston College, Virginia, and Virginia Tech all won just three games.

Over the past five 12-game regular seasons (excluding 2020 because of COVID), the teams that went 6-6 combined to go 457-432 (.514) the year after.

If you expand the scope to include all 6-6 bowl teams over the past decade, you’ll see those squads went 762-711 (.517) the following year.

How Arkansas Can Rebound in 2023

Luckily for Razorbacks fans, Pittman has shown himself to be a quality recruiter, with the 2023 class heading to Fayetteville being no exception.

So far, the Razorbacks have hauled in eight four-star recruits (according to ESPN) in their 2023 class, including a pair of tight ends (Luke Hasz and Shamar Easter) and Georgia quarterback recruit Malachi Singleton.

Whether Singleton will see meaningful playing time under center next fall is a matter for debate, as last year’s supernova at QB (KJ Jefferson) still has a year of eligibility left.

Jefferson returned to earth a bit in 2022, with his year-end passing yardage total dropping from 2,676 in 2021 to 2,361 this year. His touchdown-to-interception numbers remained virtually the same (22 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 2022, versus 21 touchdowns and 4 interceptions last year).

Arkansas’ leading rusher, Raheim Sanders, should return to Fayetteville in 2023, after galivanting for 1,426 yards and 10 scores this fall.

The performance of Jefferson (or any other potential replacement) and Sanders will go a long way toward determining whether the ‘Hogs go the way of the 2013 Michigan State Spartans and 2017 UCF Knights, who posted the biggest year-over-year win total increase of a 6-6 squad (+7 wins).

On the flip side, both will be entrusted with doing whatever it takes to help Arkansas avoid the pitfalls that ultimately tanked other teams, such as Purdue in 2013 and Baylor in 2017, which went from 6-6 to 1-11 in a single season.

Next-Season Overall Record of 6-6 Bowl Teams

Year Following Bowl Game No. of Teams Record
Note: Includes bowl teams that finished below .500. Does not include bowl teams from the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.



Christopher Boan is a lead writer at specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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