The Penn State Nittany Lions (9-3) will face the Kentucky Wildcats (9-3) on New Year’s Day in the 2019 Citrus Bowl from Orlando. Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM EST on Tuesday, January 1st at Camping World Stadium. The game will be televised on ABC.
Taking a look at the full list of college bowl betting odds, Penn State is currently listed as a 5.5-point favorite. The total for the game is sitting at 48 points.
Citrus Bowl Vegas Odds Preview: Penn State vs Kentucky
Kentucky won four out of their last six games to close out the regular season, including an impressive victory over a Missouri in late October. They also crushed Louisville 56-10 in their season finale, scoring 35 points over the first two quarters to put the game out of reach by halftime. QB Terry Wilson Jr. was fantastic, passing for 261 yards and three touchdowns. He also had ten carries for 79 yards and another score on the ground. The running back duo of Asim Rose and Benny Snell Jr. combined for a huge day on the ground, rushing for 212 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. WR Lynn Bowden also posted an impressive stat-line, catching six passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. As a whole, Kentucky averaged 26.6 points per game during the regular season (86th overall).
The Wildcats were fantastic on the defensive side of the ball during the regular season, allowing opponents to score just 16.2 points per game (8th overall).
Penn State won their final three games of the regular season to finish 9-3 overall, giving up just 20 points combined that span. The Nittany Lions were especially dominant in their last outing, dominating Maryland on both sides of the ball en route to a 38-3 victory. QB Trace McSorley was solid all year long, throwing for 2,285 yards and 16 touchdowns while also rushing for 723 yards and 11 more scores on the ground. RB Miles Sanders leads the way for a dangerous rushing attack, racking up 1,223 yards and nine touchdowns on 207 carries. The receiving duo of KJ Hamler and Pat Friermuth combined for a very impressive 1,044 yards and 13 touchdowns in 12 games. Overall, Penn State is currently averaging 34.6 points per game (30th overall).
The Nittany Lions were also very impressive on the the other side of the ball during the regular season, giving up an average of 20.0 points per game to opponents (20th overall).
2018 Citrus Bowl Free Betting Pick & Predictions: Penn State -5.5
I think that Penn State offers a ton of value in this particular spot, as both teams had identical 9-3 records but only the Nittany Lions had to play two games against Top 10 teams overall (Michigan and Ohio State). Kentucky did play Georgia but ended up losing by more than two touchdowns. They also lost in overtime to Texas A&M in early October. While both teams have been extremely impressive defensively, there is no doubt that Penn State has a clear advantage on offense, as they averaged eight more points per game than the Wildcats during the regular season.
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The Wildcats are a brutal 3-12 ATS over their last 15 non-conference games. They are also only 1-5 ATS in their last six neutral site games and 1-5 ATS over their last six games following a win. Penn State is a rock-solid 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight non-conference games. They were also 7-5 ATS during the regular season.
Like the Outback Bowl between Mississippi State and Iowa, this matchup between Penn State and Kentucky is shaping up to be a defensive battle for four quarters. Despite their extremely poor showing against Michigan in early November, I still think that the Nittany Lions should be able to cover the spread against a tough Wildcats team. They played extremely well against Ohio State back in late September, losing by only a single point. I certainly have more faith in the Penn State offense, as Trace McSorley is a threat through the air and on the ground, while Wilson Jr. almost threw as many interceptions as he did touchdowns (11:8). Ultimately, I think that the Nittany Lions will rise to the occasion on New Year’s Day in a game being nationally televised on ABC. I’ll take Penn State to cover and take home the 2019 Citrus Bowl.