Penn State vs Utah Odds, Prediction, Picks | How to Bet Rose Bowl

Penn State vs Utah Odds, Prediction, Picks | How to Bet Rose Bowl article feature image

Scott Taetsch and Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Sean Clifford (14) of Penn State and Cam Rising (7) of Utah.

Penn State vs Utah Odds

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

The 2023 Rose Bowl is set to kick more than 120 years after the first iteration of the game. The Granddaddy of Them All dates back to 1902, when the game was more properly known as the "Tournament East-West Football Game."

First installed to fund the Rose Parade, the Rose Bowl itself became the name of the game when the current venue became operational in 1923. The traditional game format of a Pac-12 and Big Ten team will soon come to an end, as the Rose Bowl will be a part of the new 12-team playoff.

Utah will make its second consecutive appearance in Pasadena after losing a barnburner to Ohio State last season. The Utes had a fantastic season, winning the Pac-12 Championship and being the only team in college football to beat USC.

Despite numerous injuries throughout the season, the physical style of head coach Kyle Whittingham will come in handy against a Big Ten team that prefers a fistfight.

How good is Penn State football? The Nittany Lions lost just two games with a strength of schedule rank of 33rd. However, detractors will point to a nonconference schedule that included two MAC teams and an Auburn team that failed to make a bowl game.

Head coach James Franklin notched a victory over just three bowl teams on the schedule and covered in a loss to Ohio State. Now, Franklin will look to win Penn State's second-ever Rose Bowl, with a drought dating back to 1995.

Penn State Nittany Lions

The transition to Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator saw plenty of positives in the 2022. Penn State led the nation in passes defensed per game, as a terrorizing group led the nation in Havoc.

One of the national leaders in forced incompletion rate was cornerback Joey Porter Jr., an NFL opt-out who will not be playing in the Rose Bowl.

However, both Kalen King and Johnny Dixon have provided 23 forced incompletions this season from the cornerback position, and Daequan Hardy and Marquis Wilson have also provided quality numbers when called upon.

Kalen King!! 😤

— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 29, 2022

The defense has been the primary reason for success, ranking top-10 in Line Yards and Stuff Rate. Diaz has been pleased with the performance when opponents get into scoring position, as the Nittany Lions allow an average of just 3.3 points on drives that cross the 40-yard line.

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich got another season to work with quarterback Sean Clifford in 2022.

The fifth-year quarterback once again provided a low turnover-worthy play rate, throwing just one interception in 93 passing attempts with pressure. Clifford posted the most play-action passing touchdowns of his career this season, logging 10 scores to just two interceptions.

Although the numbers in Offensive Rushing Success Rate leave an impression that Penn State cannot run the ball, Nick Singleton has been one of the more explosive running backs in college football. The freshman logged 22 explosive rushing attempts, finishing the season averaging 4.2 yards after contact.

Nick Singleton is a tank with sub 4.4 speed, devy RB1 easy.

— sfDynastyFF (@Quintorris_) December 16, 2022

Utah Utes

Utah running back Tavion Thomas made the early decision to opt-out for the NFL Draft before the Utes played in the Pac-12 Championship game.

Utah didn't miss a beat with a stable of backs to pick up the load, highlighted by freshman Ja'Quinden Jackson. After never exceeding 10 rushing attempts in the first nine games of the season, Jackson put up some of the highest elusiveness marks in the country in the final month of the season.


— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) December 3, 2022

The rushing attack will be needed, as Utah will be without its best weapon in tight end Dalton Kincaid. The senior led the team in targets and receiving touchdowns, allowing offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to run multiple tight end formations.

Quarterback Cam Rising targeted nine different players in the Pac-12 Championship, with running back Micah Bernard and wide receiver Jaylen Dixon receiving more targets than Kincaid.

Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley has put together another tough defense from a Havoc perspective. Although Utah didn't create much pressure on opponent passing attempts, it finished with a top-20 Havoc Rate.

Utah will disguise blitz and send five-to-seven defenders on specific down and distances, relying on a secondary that finished 23rd in coverage grading. The defense ranked top-10 nationally in third downs, with mid-FBS averages in red-zone efficiency.

Utah will be without cornerback Clark Phillips III, who graded out as the best defender on the team and tallied six passes defensed and four defensive touchdowns this season.

Penn State vs Utah Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Penn State and Utah match up statistically:

Utah Offense vs Penn State Defense
Rush Success547
Line Yards67
Pass Success1019
Pass Blocking**6010
Finishing Drives4825
** Pass Blocking (Off) vs Pass Rush (Def)

Penn State Offense vs Utah Defense
Rush Success9645
Line Yards5458
Pass Success3127
Pass Blocking**5297
Finishing Drives1260
** Pass Blocking (Off) vs Pass Rush (Def)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling7382
PFF Coverage2328
SP+ Special Teams7275
Seconds per Play28.3 (103)26.1 (55)
Rush Rate56.0% (48)53.4% (68)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics

Penn State vs Betting Prediction, Picks

The ability to pressure Clifford is crucial when defenses face Penn State. However, the hiring of Yurcich as offensive coordinator before the 2021 season has paid dividends when Penn State attempts a pass with a crowded pocket. What was a 20% gap in adjusted completion percentage has narrowed to less than 10% for Clifford when going from a clean pocket to pressured.

Utah does have a half-dozen players that have contributed at least 20 pressures, but Clifford's ability to identify when five or more defenders blitz will be crucial in this game.

The absence of Phillips leaves a gap at the left cornerback position for Utah, with underclassman Kenzel Lawler expected to see increased playing time in the Rose Bowl. Lawler logged 31 snaps at the position with a forced incompletion. Zemaiah Vaughn and Sione Vaki have primarily played a slot cornerback role and would be forced to play out of position.

Just as Phillips is a loss on defense, the Kincaid opt-out for the offense puts a wrench in Utah's offensive play-calling.

Rising has thrown nearly half of his attempts between the hash marks within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. That's a product of the heavy tight end usage Utah prefers. Without Kincaid, Rising may look to hit zones outside the hash marks, where his efficiency and touchdown numbers drop.

Expect Penn State to rebound from opt-out losses on defense better than Utah without Phillips and Kincaid.

Without half the Utes' defense blitzing Clifford, Penn State is expected to capitalize with an offense that finished 12th in Finishing Drives. The Nittany Lions ranked seventh nationally in red-zone touchdown rate, an area where Utah finished 110th defensively.

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