Kentucky Wildcats vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Date and Time: Tuesday, January 1, 2019, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
Opening CFB Odds: Penn State -5.5, 48
Kentucky vs. Penn State TV Coverage: ESPN
The Mark Stoops era has been far from smooth since his arrival in Lexington. However, the sixth year head coach has his best team since taking over the reins, and they’ll no doubt enter this tilt with a ton of emotion in hopes of closing it out on a high. While the Wildcats went on to win nine game to finish behind Georgia in the SEC East standings, it didn’t amount to much for CFB bettors after they only managed a 5-7 record against the closing CFB odds. However, four of those wins came in the underdog role and they went on to win the game outright in each and every one of them.
I personally had Penn State pegged for some regression in 2018. Though James Franklin’s troops went on to post a 9-3 record and go 7-5 against the spread, I’m still satisfied with the results and my call. The Nittany Lions weren’t nearly as good as they were a year ago, and that was completely understandable if you watched Saquon Barkley tear the NFL up in his rookie campaign this season. They more or less beat the teams they should and fall to the teams they shouldn’t; save for Michigan State. Regardless of how this game plays it, 2018-19 will ultimately be considered a success a year removed from the Barkley era.
6.0 YPP – The Nittany Lions enter the Citrus Bowl owners of the nation’s No. 46 ranked total offense and No. 30 ranked scoring offense. It attained those marks by averaging an even 6.0 yards per play ( No. 28 ) by way of pounding the opposition with an unforgiving 1-2 punch out of the backfield. PSU buttered its offensive bread with both Miles Sanders and McSorley who combined for just under 2,000 rushing yards and 20 TD. When those two weren’t each able to do their things, they went on to lose against the likes of the Buckeyes, Spartans and Wolverines. Kentucky gives up an average of just 5.0 yards per play ( No. 33 ) and ranked No. 43 overall defending the run ( 147.8 YPG ). With the air attack likely to get shut down by the nation’s No. 12 ranked pass defense, it’s of utmost importance the duo is able to make hay on the ground. If not, Penn State won’t cover the spread and will likely go down in defeat.
Player To Watch
Benny Snell Jr. – As important it is for Penn State to get something going on the ground, it’s even more so for the Wildcats who have absolutely zero passing game to fall back on ( No. 120 ). Snell Jr. has been Kentucky’s workhorse out of the backfield all season long in amassing 1,330 yards and 14 TD while averaging better than 5.0 yards per carry. In doing so, the Wildcats own the nation’s No. 33 ranked rushing attack that averages 4.9 yards per carry. PSU has been a stout defender against the pass, but has gotten its lunch served defending the run in allowing 168.4 yards per game ( No. 68 ) at 4.0 yards per carry ( No. 42 ). Those outputs increase to 232.2 and 4.7 when away from Happy Valley. The threat of Terry Wilson also tucking it and running should also be a concern with the sophomore quarterback rumbling for 518 yards and 4 TD on 125 carries.
Bet the Citrus Bowl at BookMaker.eu
For the life of me I can’t figure out why linemakers installed the Nittany Lions such heavy favorites at offshore sportsbooks for this Citrus Bowl matchup. I was hoping to catch 3-4 points with the Wildcats, so you can only imagine how thrilled I was to see 5.5 hit the board and then get bet up to 6.5 where it currently sits. After digging in to where the money came from, I discovered it’s mostly public. That literally has me licking my chops counting the days until this one kicks off. Kentucky has treated me very kindly this season, so it’s safe to say I’ll be taking another shot with them in this spot. They possess by far the better overall defense and the rushing attack that can control the chains and clock from the opening kick. McSorley regressed terribly without Barkley in his backfield this season, and I fully expect him to have his hands full in this one as well- KY Jelly outright!
CFB ATS Betting Pick: Kentucky +6.5 & +210 at BookMaker.eu
CFB Score Prediction: Wildcats 20 – Nittany Lions 17