What to know about Penn State vs. Utah in Rose Bowl: Prediction, picks, players to watch

Kyle Whittingham is completing his 18th full season as head coach at Utah. James Franklin is completing his ninth season as head coach at Penn State. After Franklin and the Nittany Lions went 11-11 combined during 2020 and 2021, they have compiled a10-2 record this season while Whittingham and the Utes have gone 10-3.

What teams are in the Rose Bowl?

Penn State vs. Utah.

When and where is the Rose Bowl?

Monday, Jan. 2, 5 p.m. ET at Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California.

What channel is the Rose Bowl on?

ESPN is airing the game.

Penn State vs. Utah prediction

Penn State still is looking for a statement win, and knocking off 10th-ranked Utah would qualify. But don’t count on it. The Utes made their first Rose Bowl appearance last year and nearly upset Ohio State. This time they’ll leave the Rose Bowl as the victors. Prediction: Utah, 31-28.

Penn State vs. Utah expert picks

Scooby Axson: Utah

Jace Evans: Utah

Paul Myerberg: Utah

Erick Smith: Penn State

Eddie Timanus: Utah

Dan Wolken: Utah

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Who is favored to win the Rose Bowl?

Get the latest betting info from Tipico Sportsbook here.

What happened to Utah's Tavion Thomas?

Utah, which ranks 10th among FBS teams in rushing with an average of 220.2 yards per game, will be without its top rusher, Tavion Thomas. He missed the past two games with a toe injury and decided to skip the Rose Bowl.

Who is Utah's starting running back for the bowl game?

Redshirt freshman Ja’Quinden Jackson has rushed for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games against Colorado and Southern Cal, and the Utes piled up more than 600 yards rushing. Jackson also has made appearances at quarterback and on special teams.

Is Cameron Rising playing?

Yes. The Utah quarterback is equipped with a strong arm, quick feet and a long-flowing mane, the Utes are averaging 40 points, the eighth-best output in the FBS. He’s produced ample highlights while throwing for 2,939 yards and 25 touchdowns, and the best one came during the Pac-12 championship game.

Rising survived a massive hit from USC linebacker Ralen Goforth that knocked off Rising’s helmet off and sent him and his mane flying. He popped back up and helped lead Utah to victory.

Why is Joey Porter Jr. not playing in the bowl game?

The Nittany Lions will be missing the All-Big Ten safety, a junior who has declared for the NFL draft and decided to skip the Rose Bowl.

Who is Penn State's QB?

Sean Clifford, 24, is among the oldest in the country. The sixth-year senior is solid, if not spectacular, having thrown for 2,543 yards and 22 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Is Clark Phillips III playing in the Rose Bowl?

The Utah cornerback, who had six interceptions this season, leaving him tied for second nationally in that category, announced on Dec. 12 that he'll declare for the NFL Draft. He did not clarify if he would opt out of the Rose Bowl as well. A sophomore, Phillips has two pick-sixes, a 38-yard return for a touchdown against Oregon State and an 80-yard return for a touchdown against UCLA.

How many sacks does Penn State have this season?

Penn State still has all the key rushers on a defense that has racked up 37 sacks, tied for the ninth highest total among FBS teams. Abdul Carter, a freshman linebacker, leads Penn State with 6.5 sacks and is what you might expect from Linebacker U. It’s premature to compare him to Penn State greats like LaVar Arrington and Jack Ham, but he’s emerged as a force while leading the team not only in sacks but with 10.5 tackles for loss. But note to Penn State: Utah has allowed only nine sacks this season.

Who has the edge when Penn State runs?

Utah ranks 16th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 107.0 yards per game, and has held its past four opponents to under 200 rushing combined. But Penn State can bully opponents on the ground. In five games this season the Nittany Lions piled up more than 200 yards rushing. Edge: Penn State.

Who has the edge when Penn State passes?

The Nittany Lions are solid with sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford at the helm of a passing offense that ranks 51st nationally with 250.3 yards per game. Utah’s pass defense is equally capable, and cornerback Clark Phillips III ranks second nationally in interceptions with six. Edge: Penn State.

Who has the edge when Utah runs?

The Utes’ versatile running attack is averaging 220.2 yards per game, the 10th-best rushing output in the country. Penn State, by contrast, is allowing an average of 105.1 yards rushing per game, the 14th lowest in the country. Edge: Utah.

Who has the edge when Utah passes?

Cameron Rising, Utah’s dual-threat quarterback, has been sacked only nine times this season while passing for 2,939 yards and 25 touchdowns. But Penn State’s defense has 37 sacks, tied for the ninth-highest total in the country. Edge: Utah.

Who has the special teams edge?

The strongest leg belongs to Penn State’s Jake Pinegar, who kicked a 50-yard field goal this season in gusty Bloomington, Indiana. The highlight reel talent belongs to Penn State’s Nicholas Singleton, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Rutgers. Utah’s play has been lackluster here. Edge: Penn State.

Who has the coaching edge?

Penn State’s James Franklin has quieted critics. Whittingham has led the Utes to a third 10-win season in four years and back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances. Edge: Utah.

College football bowl game expert picks

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Penn State vs. Utah Rose Bowl: Time, TV, prediction, picks, odds