Rose Bowl Odds, Best Bets: Our Picks for Penn State vs. Utah Spread, Over/Under

Rose Bowl Odds, Best Bets: Our Picks for Penn State vs. Utah Spread, Over/Under article feature image

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Penn State wide receiver Omari Evans (18) and Nittany Lions teammates.

  • The Rose Bowl kicks off Monday afternoon, as the Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Utah Utes.
  • Updated odds make the Utes short favorites of -1.5, while the over/under sits at 52.5 depending on the sportsbook.
  • Check out how our staff is betting the Rose Bowl spread and over/under below.

Penn State vs. Utah Odds

Monday, Jan. 2
5 p.m. ET
Penn State Odds
-115o / -105u
Utah Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

By Dan Keegan

For the second straight year, the Rose Bowl — the Granddaddy of Them All — pits Utah against a non-playoff Big Ten East team.

Last year’s game was a barnburner. CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba torched Utah all night, and the Utes returned the favor against the Ohio State defense, which was at the nadir of its existential crisis.

Will this year’s vintage be as high-scoring? Utah’s defense is a step worse than last season’s, particularly against the run. But the Utes are battle-proven, winning multiple big games along the way in defending their Pac-12 title.

Penn State dropped its two biggest games of the campaign to division bullies Michigan and Ohio State. A win in this bowl will go a long way in setting up the Nittant Lions’ preseason hype for next year; they will bring back a talented roster, insert a blue-chip quarterback into the lineup and get a favorable conference schedule.

There are a few impactful opt-outs — both teams will be without excellent cornerbacks Clark Phillips III (Utah) and Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) — but there will also be plenty of talent on the field as well. Veteran gunslingers Sean Clifford and Cameron Rising will both suit up to lead their respective teams.

Utah is a short favorite at -2 with a total of 52.5. Action is heavy on the over, but both the money and the tickets are split evenly on each side of the spread.

Kyle Whittingham is one of the most profitable bowl game coaches in the sport, going 9-4 against the spread in his 17 years as the head man at Utah. Meanwhile, Penn State’s James Franklin is 5-4 ATS in bowls for his career.

With that in mind, we polled eight of our college football experts to find some consensus in the matchup. Let’s get to their analysis.

Penn State vs. Utah Point Spread

6 Picks

Coin Flip

1 Picks
1 Picks

Penn State +2.5

By Dan Keegan

A resounding consensus of our writers side with the Nittany Lions and the points in this one. Don’t Freezing Cold Takes us with this one, please.

In some ways, this is just a pure math play: Both SP+ and our Action Network power ratings have Penn State around a 1-point favorite, so it’s hard to pass up three points of value on the number.

There’s the question of effort, as well.

Utah played in this same game last year, and three of its best players will not be suiting up: cornerback Clark Phillips III, running back Tavion Thompson and tight end Dalton Kincaid.

Penn State will be looking to establish its 2023 sleeper candidacy, and it has only one opt-out, in cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Star offensive tackle Olu Fashanu surprised the world and established the culture for this game when he decided to skip the 2023 NFL Draft — where he would have been selected highly — to return to Happy Valley.

It’s not that a Kyle Whittingham team would ever fold up shop and quit on a competitive contest, but rather that Penn State will want this one a smidge more.

We favor the Nittany Lions in the X’s and O’s matchup, as well. The absences of Thompson, Kincaid and tight end Brent Kuithe (injured earlier in the year) are a huge blow to an offense built around physicality and passing to the tight ends. The Utes will struggle without the main engines of an efficient offense, and they don’t do much to generate explosive plays (111th in explosive play rate in FBS).

When Penn State has the ball, its big-play rushing offense should have a field day rushing through the second levels of the Utes defense. The Lions are 22nd in the country in creating explosive plays on the ground, and Utah ranks 91st in defending big-hitter runs.

Expect big days on the ground from both Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, Penn State’s pair of true freshman running backs who both racked up over 800 yards this season.

While it’s hard to go against Whittingham in bowl season, you’re finding value by backing the underdog here. The Nittany Lions have both roster and schematic advantages — and they’ll be getting points. Our team loves this bet.

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Penn State vs. Utah Over/Under

Over 52.5

8 Picks

Coin Flip

0 Picks

Under 52.5

0 Picks

Over 52.5

By Thomas Schlarp

It’s pretty difficult to reach a consensus on anything these days, but we did the impossible with our staff unanimously backing the over 52.5 points in this one.

At a quick glance, you may see both teams without their leading pass-catchers — Penn State’s Parker Washington and Utah’s Dalton Kincaid — and assume the offenses will be limited. That’s far from the truth.

Both Utah and Penn State bring veteran quarterbacks to the Rose Bowl, each of whom won’t have to deal with the opposition’s best defensive back, as Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. and Utah’s Clark Phillips III have opted out of the game.

The matchup marks the final game of quarterback Sean Clifford’s six-year career for the Nittany Lions, and he’ll be motivated to leave on a high note with a top-20 scoring offense that averages 35.8 points per game.

The Utah and Penn State offenses are pretty similar in that they are both physical and rely on their tight ends and run game to do the majority of the work.

The Utes ranked 10th in the country with 220.2 rushing yards per game, with four different players recording at least 400 rushing yards this season and six different players scoring at least four rushing touchdowns.

The Nittany Lions’ rushing efforts are more concentrated with a pair of game-breaking freshmen, as Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen have combined for over 1,700 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.

All of this is to say that despite the absence of Washington and Kincaid, both teams still have the bread and butter of their offense to rely upon, with mostly intact offensive lines that ranked top-20 in Line Yards and Havoc Allowed.

In the last six games since Penn State lost to Michigan, it’s averaging 40.2 points per game, while the Utes have scored at least 42 points in four of their last five.

Our staff likes Penn State’s offense to be the more effective of the two, but they should have no problem collectively scoring over 52.5.

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