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Utah vs Penn State Rose Bowl Predictions, Picks & Best Bets

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 4 mins

Utah vs Penn State Rose Bowl Predictions, Picks & Best Bets

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The College Football Playoff might have taken a little shine off the Rose Bowl at first, but the college football betting action has been better than ever in recent years. Ohio State’s 48-45 win over Utah was a strong Game of the Year candidate last year and now we’ve got another juicy matchup on tap.

The Utes are back in Pasadena for a second straight year to take on a 10-2 Penn State team looking to win the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1994. 


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The Nittany Lions came up just short of a title run this year, with both losses coming against CFP teams in Michigan and Ohio State. They were also one of the best teams to wager on betting apps all season with a record of 8-3-1 against the spread. 

Utah just pulled off its third 10-win season in four years, but it hasn’t won a bowl game in that stretch. The Utes went 8-5 ATS on the year and this is a great chance for them to make another program statement with a win over a strong Big Ten opponent. 

Utah vs Penn State Rose Bowl Point Spread Prediction

According to the latest college football odds, Utah is a small favorite, hovering around a field goal at -2.5 in the days leading up. This is the first time a Pac-12 opponent has been favored over a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl since USC went out as a -7 favorite against Penn State in 2016. The Nittany Lions covered but fell short in a 52-49 loss to the Trojans. 

What really stands out on both sides is the rushing defense. Penn State has held five straight opponents under 100 rushing yards, and they’ve held opponents to 1.9 yards per rush or less in four straight games. The front seven has really played incredible all year other than a 41-17 loss to Michigan in which the Wolverines ran for 418 yards on 55 carries. 

If you removed that Michigan game, Penn State would only be giving up 76.6 rushing yards per week – best in the country, with Georgia currently tops at 77. 

We’ve seen Utah do basically the same thing in recent games. The Utes held their last four opponents under 63 rushing yards and led the Pac-12 in that category. Utah also pounds it on the other side of the line, racking up more than 220 rushing yards in four of the last five games – including 306 yards against Arizona and 383 against Colorado. 

Penn State likes to impose its will up front too and we see the trenches battle as a wash. This game will turn on whichever quarterback steps up and makes more plays in the second half. And we give Utah’s Cameron Rising the edge over Penn State’s Sean Clifford. They’re both very good players, but Rising was consistently more productive and accurate throughout the year. 

Rising was also in this same spot 12 months ago and had the Utes going shot-for-shot with Ohio State before falling just short. That’s likely been a driving factor all season and there’s serious value in the experience, knowing what to expect and what it feels like when the sun sets on the San Gabriel Mountains. 

Utah is a -130 favorite on the moneyline. We’re taking the Utes to win the game and cover -2.5 behind a heroic effort from Rising. 

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Utah vs Penn State Rose Bowl Over/Under Pick

The total is set in the low 50s here on sports betting sites despite the strong defensive teams. They’re both balanced on offense and this is truly all you can ask for in a college football betting matchup – two teams with a ton of skill that can slug it out on the lines. 

This will be a bit of a chess match and we see both teams testing the secondaries. That’ll slow the game down and continue a trend of high-scoring affairs in the Grandaddy of Them All. The Utes and Buckeyes combined for 93 points last year and the total went over 100 in back-to-back games in 2017-2018. 

Some of the best weather on the planet doesn’t hurt scoring conditions one bit. We like that trend to continue this year. We’re on Over 52 points in the Rose Bowl.   

About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.