Can you smell the roses? The granddaddy of them all is here as the 109th annual Rose Bowl game in Pasadena has a matchup that will surely provide plenty of fireworks! The Penn State Nittany Lions travel west to take on a Utah Utes squad who is playing in this game for the second-straight year. With that being said, let's check out our College Football odds series where our Penn State-Utah prediction and pick will be unveiled.
Coming into this one with a 10-2 record and securing wins in their four final games, the Nittany Lions benefitted from the fact that both Ohio State and Michigan found their way into the College Football Playoff and have no plans on looking back. In fact, the two lone losses for Penn State this season with came against the top-two teams in the Big Ten. Seeking their first Rose Bowl win since 1994, Penn State is here to take care of business.
On the other side of things, it was only a year ago when the Utah Utes found themselves in this exact game versus an extremely talented Ohio State Buckeyes team. While the Utes held a lead at many parts of that one, they eventually came up just short in what was a wild and epic matchup. Entering postseason play as Pac-12 champs with a decisive win over USC, the Utes are eager to show what they are all about.
Here are the Penn State-Utah college football odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
Rose Bowl Odds: Penn State-Utah Odds
Penn State: +1.5 (-114)
Utah: -1.5 (-106)
Over: 52.5 (-114)
Under: 52.5 (-106)
Why Penn State Could Cover The Spread
In order to come away with a covering of the spread against a Utah Utes team that has strived themselves with a type of fearless physicality over the past couple of seasons. Alas, Penn State has become quite accustomed with facing off with physical-natured teams within the ground and pound Big Ten Conference, and establishing an edge within the line of scrimmage should be priority number one for the Nittany Lions.
Furthermore, shoving the rock down the throats of Utah would signal Penn State wanting to tire out the Utes' defense in an aggressive manner. Alas, this type of game plan will serve as the biggest difference-making scheme in an attempt to cover. The Nittany Lions are led by senior citizen QB Sean Clifford who will be playing in his final collegiate game at the ripe age of 24. In his sixth season with the program, Penn State will try to get Clifford to expose a Utah secondary that will be without their top corner in Clark Phillips III.
Defensively, Penn State comes into the game with a defense that rarely gives up gauging plays for big yardage. In fact, the Nittany Lions only surrender 317 yards per game and gives up less than 20 points per contest as well. In their last contest coming a month ago in a 35-16 triumph over Michigan State, Penn State forced three turnovers and would love nothing more to fluster Utah in a similar way.
Why Utah Could Cover The Spread
One of the longest-tenured head coaches in college football, Kyle Whittingham took over for Urban Meyer back in 2005 and has done a spectacular job in developing talent at a high level. Oftentimes not supplied with tremendous recruiting classes year in and year out, Utah instead relies on hefty offensive and defensive linemen to do the dirty work in the trenches and dominate the line of scrimmage.
This has been the exact case this season, as Utah boasts the top rushing attack in the entire nation with over 220 yards per game. The Utes will try to implement their smash-mouth ways by giving plenty of carries to talented halfback Tavion Thomas who is Utah's leading rusher on the season. Having not played since Nov. 19th against Oregon, Thomas should be equipped with some fresh legs to power his way past the Penn State rush defense.
Most importantly, what will the Utes do in the absence of tight end Dalton Kinkaid? One of the more reliable options for QB Cam Rising as Utah's leading receiver, Kinkaid will not be partaking for play as he is healing from a lingering injury in order to be fully healthy for the NFL Draft.
Last and certainly not least, Utah possesses a feisty defense that knows how to stop the run with 11 defenders that also excel at sticking to the assignment and wrapping up ball carriers with efficiency. Be on the lookout for Utah's defensive line and edge rushers to make their presence be felt as they harassed USC for a multitude of sacks on the night. If the Utes can stop the run early and hold the Nittany Lions to third-and-long, then they can get after Clifford with the pass rush.
Final Penn State-Utah Prediction & Pick
Both teams enter this contest red-hot with a combined ten wins in their previous eleven games, but it will be Utah's experienced roster that will prove to me too much for Penn State.
Final Penn State-Utah Prediction & Pick: Utah -1.5 (-106)
How To Watch
Time: 5:00 PM ET/2:00 PM PT