By Peter Gleason
Penn State squares off with Kentucky on New Year’s Day in the Citrus Bowl.
And here’s a guide on how to bet:
The Nittany Lions opened as 5.5-point favorites. Since the line was revealed on Dec. 2, money has come in on Penn State, pushing the line to -6.5. The Nittany Lions have a 62 percent chance to cover at -6.5, per Covers.com.
The over/under is set at 47.5, the lowest total Penn State has been a part of since last season’s Michigan game. The number makes sense, though, considering the teams’ strengths and weaknesses. Kentucky can’t throw the ball; head coach Mark Stoops relies on his running game and defense to eke out wins. The under has hit in five of the Wildcats’ last seven games. Meanwhile, Penn State’s passing attack has fallen off, and Miles Sanders is carrying the offensive load. Vegas is expecting a low-scoring, grind-it-out kind of game.
The money line stands at Penn State -250. In other words, a $100 bet would yield a $40 profit. The Nittany Lions have a 67.7 percent chance to win outright, per ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Franklin’s and Stoops’ bowl experiences are vastly different. The Nittany Lions coach boasts a 4-3 record from his time at Penn State and Vanderbilt. Penn State beat Washington last year in the Fiesta Bowl, fell to USC in the Rose Bowl, lost to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl and finished his inaugural season by edging Boston College in overtime in the Pinstripe Bowl. Stoops, meanwhile, went to two bowl games in his first five years with Kentucky and lost both (vs. Georgia Tech, 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl; vs. Northwestern, 2017 Music City Bowl).
From a betting perspective, Franklin’s teams have fared well in the postseason. The Nittany Lions covered as 3-point favorites against Washington, won bettors money at +7 in the Rose Bowl and defeated Boston College as 3-point underdogs. In seven total bowl games coached, Franklin’s teams are 5-2 against the spread.
Penn State and Kentucky kick at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The game will be televised on ABC.