Penn State-Kentucky Betting Guide: Points At a Premium in 2019 Citrus Bowl

Penn State-Kentucky Betting Guide: Points At a Premium in 2019 Citrus Bowl article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Trace McSorley and Josh Allen

2019 Citrus Bowl Betting Odds: Penn State-Kentucky

  • Odds: Penn State -6.5
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Date: Tuesday, Jan. 1
  • Location: Orlando, Fla.
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV: ABC

>> All odds as of Monday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets


Penn State didn’t quite live up to its New Year’s Six dreams after losing three games during the regular season, while Kentucky had arguably its best campaign in two decades behind a stellar defense that rivaled the SEC’s best.

Will the Wildcats be able to move the ball on an underrated Penn State defense, or can the Nittany Lions hold up?

Odds Moves for Penn State-Kentucky

By Danny Donahue

Penn State has picked up 70% of bets and 80% of dollars against the Wildcats, driving its line from -4 to -6.5.

As for the total, bettors have been relatively split, with 51% taking the under. That percentage has accounted for 68% of money, however, dropping this number from 48 to 47 (see live betting data here).

Coaching Edge, ATS

By Stuckey

This game features a huge coaching disparity in terms of against the spread performance. In our database (back to 2005):

Mark Stoops: 30-44-0 (40.5%) -21.3% ROI, -$1,573
James Franklin: 59-41-4 (59%) 14.9% ROI, +$1,552

Only Doug Martin (NMSU) has lost bettors more money than Stoops among active coaches, while Franklin ranks among the five most profitable active coaches.

By Evan Abrams

Not only is their a coaching disparity, but James Franklin knows how to cover bowl games. This will be Franklin’s eighth bowl game and he is 5-2 against the spread, covering by 3.4 PPG. In Franklin’s two ATS losses, his teams lost the game by just a touchdown in both spots.

Penn State Defense Came on Strong

By Steve Petrella

I think most people entered this season with the idea that Penn State’s offense would be similar to the one we saw the last two years, and that the defense would struggle. That idea may still be lingering, but it couldn’t be further from reality.

Quarterback Trace McSorley had the worst passing season of his career, wide receivers struggled with drops and the Nits never got their vertical passing game going.

Penn State’s defense never allowed more than 5.9 yards per play in a game, and had arguably its worse performance in Week 1 against Appalachian State. It closed really strong by allowing 20 total points in its final three games.

On the season, PSU ranked ninth in S&P+ defense and 14th in yards per play.

Who’s More Motivated?

By Stuckey

This is Kentucky’s first New Year’s bowl game since the 1998 season, when it played on Jan. 1 in the Outback Bowl against none other than Penn State (UK lost 26-14). Meanwhile, Penn State played in two major bowls in the 2017 calendar year alone.

A Citrus Bowl win would mean significantly more to the Cats than the Nittany Lions. The Cats are looking for their first 10 win season since 1977, while the Nittany Lions are looking for their third-straight 10 win season.

That said, we are at the point of bowl season where motivation isn’t really a factor worth considering. Both teams will be up and ready in Orlando.

Mismatches: Kentucky’s Defense

By Stuckey

Kentucky has one of the best linebacking groups in the nation, led by All-American Josh Allen, who for my money was the best defensive player in the nation. There’s a reason UK ranks No. 1 in the nation in LB havoc rate.

Even without the services of Jordan Jones (ineligible), this is still a group of sideline-to-sideline speedsters. They will be able to chase down quarterback Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and contain him in the running game, where he has been much more effective this season.

Kentucky should also generate a lot of pressure from the edge against a vulnerable Penn State offensive line (106th in Adjusted Sack Rate on Passing Downs vs. a UK defense that ranks 33rd on PD and 17th overall).

A Case for the Under

By Collin Wilson

Penn State ranks 11th in S&P+ defense — unfortunately most of that number is aided by passing statistics. The Nittany Lions are 12th in passing S&P+ and 18th in passing downs, but Kentucky’s offensive bread-and-butter is the rush with star running back Benny Snell Jr. Penn State is just 41st in Rushing S&P+ defense, ranking 77th in opportunity rate. The Nittany Lions are much better at pressuring the quarterback than stopping the run.

Kentucky is fantastic in running situations, ranking top 20 in stuff and opportunity rate. The short yardage rushing situations like third and short percentage and first and goal success rate are top 10 in the nation.

The Wildcats should be able to control the clock with the ground game. An adjusted pace rank of 92nd might result in plenty of clock burning in between downs. Kentucky’s pace on offense should slow the game down, but both teams field excellent defenses when backed up.

In defensive finishing drives, Penn State ranks 28th, while Kentucky ranks No. 7 in the country in allowing opponents to convert points past the 40 yard line.

Take the under and points with Kentucky and look for any NFL bound Benny Snell Jr. rushing props.

Collin’s Picks: Under 47, Kentucky +6.5

Another Case for the Under, Kentucky

By Stuckey

I agree with Collin on this under with two flawed offenses, plus an elite Kentucky defense and really solid Penn State defense that came on even stronger toward the end of the year.

I also am waiting to grab a flat +7 with Kentucky. I think the Wildcats can generate pressure on McSorley, their veteran solid secondary (15th S&P+ passing defense) can contain a PSU passing attack that struggled all season and their linebackers can make sure McSorley doesn’t kill them with his legs.

Just look at what this Kentucky team did to Nick Fitzgerald and a Mississippi State offense that really relies on his legs: 28 carries for 56 yards. They also stymied a very good Florida rushing attack with a quarterback who can run.

Expect UK to collapse the edge and control the LOS on defense. On the other side of the ball, I think Benny Snell can have a big day against a PSU defense that is much more vulnerable against the run and this is purely run-first offense (Kentucky ranks in the top 25 in run rate on standard and passing downs).

Stuckey’s Picks: Under 47, Kentucky +7 or better