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Citrus Bowl preview – Kentucky Wildcats vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ

Betting Line: Penn State -6.5
Over/Under: 47.5 points at Bovada

While Kentucky is known as a basketball school, with good reason, their football team had a season to remember.

Not only did they reach nine wins for the first time since 1984, but they also beat Florida for the first time in over 30 years. If the Wildcats can win this game they will reach double-digits in wins for the first time since 1977.

They are not that big of an underdog in this game, but they have not won a bowl game since winning the Liberty Bowl in 2008. While UK is not a high scoring team they have a legit run game and are led by a defense that ranks 21st in the nation only giving up an average of 16.3 points per game.

Penn State had the same record as Kentucky, but they only had one win over a ranked team and were blown out by Michigan. Still, they lost to Ohio State by only one point and they beat Washington last season in the Fiesta Bowl. The Nittany Lions have lost four of their last six bowl games and are looking for back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in over 10 years. PSU is more balanced than Kentucky, as they rank 45th in the nation in overall offense and 35th in overall defense.

These two teams have not met since the 1999 season.

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This season Kentucky is 9-3 SU with an ATS record of 5-7 and an O/U record of 5-7 and Penn State is 9-3 SU with an ATS record of 7-5 and an O/U record of 7-5.

Terry Wilson leads Kentucky and on the season, he passed for 1,768 yards with 11 TD and eight interceptions and was also the team’s second leading rusher with 518 rushing yards. Benny Snell Jr. may be the key on offense in this game for UK and he rushed for 1,305 yards with 14 TD. However, he or Wilson did not average over five yards per carry. Still Snell rushed for at least 100 yards in the last two games of the season. He will be up against a Penn State run defense that ranks 71st in the nation.

Snell rushed for at least 100 yards in six games this season, but in the Wildcats three losses he did not go over 81 yards and averaged 71.3 rushing yards per game.

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Penn State ended the season well winning their last three games, but two of those wins came against teams that did not finish over .500 and the other against a Wisconsin team that had a down season.

Trace McSorley passed for 2,284 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions, but just like Kentucky their running back in Miles Sanders is key in this game. He rushed for 1,223 yards and rushed for at least 128 yards in two of his last three games.

Kentucky is led by their defense, but their strength on D is against the run. They rank 18th in the nation in pass defense and 50th in run defense

The Wildcats won two of their three games this season facing top 25 teams with their only coming against a Georgia team that almost beat Alabama in the SEC title game.

Kentucky Wildcats betting trends

  • 3-12 ATS in their last 15 non-conference games
  • 1-5 ATS in their last six neutral site games
  • 2-5 ATS in their last seven games
  • Under record of 11-3 in their last 14 non-conference games

Penn State Nittany Lions betting trends

  • 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight non-conference games
  • 24-9-2 ATS in their last 35 games
  • 5-2 ATS in their last seven neutral site games
  • Over record of 5-0 in their last five non-conference games

Kentucky vs. Penn State Prediction

While Penn State is the more premier program and most of the betting trends point to them being the betting pick in this game you have to buck those trends. Kentucky will be more than fired up in this New Year’s Day bowl game and they will run the ball well and play good defense. Their offense may not score a lot of points, but they will keep it close with their defense and, at least, cover the spread in the Citrus Bowl.

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