Citrus Bowl Spread: Kentucky vs. Penn State Odds, Prediction

Payton Matthews | Updated Dec 19, 2018

trace mcsorley

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley plays his collegiate finale and has broken nearly every school record at the position in his stellar career.

January 01, 2019, 1:00 PM ET
Camping World Stadium
Pointspread +5 -110
Moneyline +175
Over / Under o +47.5
Pointspread -5 -110
Moneyline -210
Over / Under u +47.5

It’s two very different teams facing off in the New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl from Orlando as No. 14 Kentucky of the SEC takes on No. 12 Penn State of the Big Ten.

Citrus Bowl Betting Analysis

The top bowls are the New Year’s six games, while the Citrus Bowl is atop the next tier down. The Citrus has been played since New Year’s Day 1947 and was a minor bowl for years. When the BCS era began, the Citrus made a push to become the fifth BCS game but wasn’t chosen. It has paired a SEC and Big Ten school for more than two decades with the exception of the 2016 season when Louisville of the ACC faced LSU from the SEC.

Kentucky, which doesn’t have much of a football history, is in the Citrus Bowl for the first time. It’s the third straight bowl game for the Cats under Mark Stoops and they lost the previous two – last year by just a point to Big Ten school Northwestern in the Music City Bowl. UK’s last bowl win was the 2008 Liberty.

Penn State plays in the Citrus Bowl for the sixth time and first since New Year’s Day 2010. It’s the fifth straight bowl game for the Lions under fifth-year coach James Franklin. They are 2-2 in them, winning last year’s Fiesta Bowl over Washington.

It’s the sixth all-time meetings between the schools and first since the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day 1999.

Kentucky Wildcats

Stoops entered this season fighting for his job but that’s no longer an issue as Kentucky was in position to play in the SEC Championship Game for the first time in school history. However, the Wildcats lost an East Division winner-take-all game home to Georgia and then lost again the next week at Tennessee before closing the season with two easy wins. It’s a very conservative, run-heavy offence, led by All-SEC running back Benny Snell and his 1,305 yards and 14 touchdowns on 263 carries. QB Terry Wilson is a dual-threat, throwing for 1,768 yards and 11 scores while rushing for 518 and four more TDs. Kentucky largely wins on defence, allowing just 16.3 ppg. The Cats are better against the pass (No. 16 nationally) than the run (44th). Linebacker Josh Allen was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year (also winning Bednarik and Nagurski Awards nationally), while fellow LB Jordan Jones, fifth on the team with tackles, is ineligible for the bowl game. Kentucky looks for its first 10-win season since 1977.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Even after losing star running back Saquon Barkley as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Lions entered this season with national title aspirations. Those vanished with back-to-back crushing home losses – by a combined four points – to Ohio State and Michigan State. PSU’s other loss wasn’t close as it was routed at Michigan. It’s not easy playing in the Big Ten East, the nation’s toughest division. Quarterback Trace McSorley plays his collegiate finale and has broken nearly every school record at the position in his stellar career. He threw for 16 scores and rushed for 11 this year. Miles Sanders capably replaced Barkley in rushing for 1,223 yards and nine scores. PSU is looking for a 10-win season for a third straight year, something the program hasn’t accomplished since 1980-82.

Wildcats vs. Nittany Lions Prediction