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The college football season kicks off 2019 with a clash between the SEC and the Big 12. The #14 Kentucky Wildcats lock up with the #12 Penn State Nittany Lions on Tuesday, January 1 in the VRBO Citrus Bowl. Kentucky won their final two games of the season, including a 56-10 demolition of Louisville to win the Commonwealth Cup in their regular season finale. Penn State finished the season with three straight wins and five of their last six, including a 38-3 pasting of Maryland at home in their regular-season finale. The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 3-2, including a 26-14 win in the last meeting in the Outback Bowl on January 1, 1999.
Kentucky Wildcats Seek Double Digit Wins
Kentucky trounced Louisville to win the Governors’ Cup and picked up their ninth win of the season. The Wildcats have a chance, with a win here, to win double digit games in a season for the first time since 1977: the program has recorded its most wins since the 1984 team went 9-3, capped by a one point win in the Hall of Fame Classic over Wisconsin. Kentucky was up 14-7 at the end of the first quarter and piled it on from there. The Wildcats led 35-10 at the half and blanked Louisville in the second half en route to the win. Kentucky rolled up a healthy 601-305 edge in total offense, along with a 29-10 bulge in first downs and a 33:57 to 26:03 advantage in time of possession. The big numbers easily offset the fact that Kentucky committed the lone two turnovers in the game.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 27, 2018
The Wildcats are averaging 164.8 yards per game through the air this season while compiling 201.3 yards per contest on the ground. Kentucky puts up an average of 26.6 points a game, which is 86th in the FBS, while the team is 8th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 16.2 points per game. Terry Wilson has hit 171 of 253 passes for 1,768 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He adds 518 rushing yards and four scores this season. Gunnar Hoak is 13 of 26 for 167 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. In the ground game, Benny Snell Jr. has run the ball 263 times for 1,305 yards and 14 scores. Asim Rose is next in line with 67 carries for 433 yards and five scores. Lynn Bowden Jr. is the team’s top target in the passing game with 62 receptions for 661 yards and five scores. C.J. Conrad chips in 29 receptions for 297 yards plus three scores while Snell Jr. (17 grabs, 105 yards) is the only other player with more than 15 catches. Miles Butler has hit all 37 extra points but is five of nine on field goals with a long of 40. Chance Poore has hit all three extra points and two of four field goals with a long of 31.
Penn State Nittany Lions Try to Finish Season With Bowl Win
Penn State closed the season with three straight wins as they took care of business down the stretch. The Nittany Lions look to cap the year with a bowl win to hit the 10 win mark for the third straight season. Penn State put the boots to Maryland as they allowed only a first quarter field goal en route to the win. The Nittany Lions rolled up a 565-269 advantage in total offense and had a 28-13 edge in first downs. That more than made up for a 32:48 to 27:12 margin in favor of the Terrapins in time of possession and the fact that they committed the game’s lone turnover.
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) November 26, 2018
The Nittany Lions enter this game putting up 215.8 yards per contest through the air and 208.6 yards per game on the ground this season. Penn State is 30th in the nation in scoring offense as they put up 34.6 points per game and stand 20th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 20 points per contest. Trace McSorley is 176 of 329 passing for 2,285 yards with 16 touchdowns against six interceptions while rushing for 723 yards plus 11 scores.
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) December 30, 2018
Miles Sanders leads the team with 207 carries for 1,223 yards and nine touchdowns while Ricky Slade (41 carries, 230 yards, six scores) is the second back in the system. Juwan Johnson is third on the team with 23 catches for 339 yards and a score while KJ Hamler (team high 42 grabs, team high 714 yards, six touchdowns), Sanders (22 catches, 132 yards), DeAndre Thompkins (21 catches, 255 yards, two TD) and Pat Freiermuth (24 receptions, 330 yards, seven TD) are the only other players with more than 12 receptions so far for Penn State. Jake Pinegar has hit 50 of 52 extra points and is 15 of 21 on field goals with a long of 49 this season.
- Nittany Lions are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game
- Nittany Lions are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games
- Nittany Lions are 14-3-1 ATS in their last 18 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game
- Wildcats are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 non-conference games
- Wildcats are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS win
- Wildcats are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games
Updated on Dec 31 at 11:55pm EST
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
Penn State has gone from -4 to -5,5 which is consistent with the fact that the Lions have gotten 65% of the bets.
Injury / Weather Report
No Weather Issues Expected
Kentucky’s Impact Injury Report
Out— LB Jordan Jones (68 Tackles, 5.5 TFL)
Penn State’s Impact Injury Report
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Penn State’s defense showed up in the final three weeks of the season, perhaps to show that they weren’t the team that was gashed by Michigan in that 42-7 defeat. The Nittany Lions allowed just 20 points combined in their final three contests, shutting down Wisconsin, Rutgers and Maryland. Kentucky is big on the run but Penn State held the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins to a combined 91 carries for 262 yards. The Nittany Lions are geared up for this one and their ability to shut down the run gives them the advantage.
Prediction: Penn State Nittany Lions -6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Kentucky scored 90 points in their final two regular season games as they took down Middle Tennessee and Louisville. That was just one fewer point than they had put up in their previous six contests combined. Kentucky is a team that relies on their tough defense and are content playing the field position game. Penn State has the weapons to put up points and suffered a pair of losses by four points or less. The Michigan thrashing was the aberration on their slate: can the Nittany Lions win a battle of defenses in this one?
The under is 4-0 in the Wildcats’ last 4 bowl games, 6-1 in their last 7 neutral site games, 4-1 in their last 5 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game and 4-1 in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game. Penn State has seen the under go 5-1 in their last six against SEC opponents. With the way the Nittany Lions have leaned on their defense of late, this one likely falls short of the number.
Prediction: Under 47.5