The Rose Bowl presented by Prudential between the Penn State Nittany Lions and Utah Utes is Monday, Jan. 2, at 5:00pm ET on ESPN. Betting information below is provided by BetMGM** and is current as of Dec. 30. Click on the links provided to see the most up-to-date lines and odds.
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Rose Bowl Preview: Penn State vs. Utah (Utah -2.5, o/u 52.5)
Best Bets: Penn State +2.5, Over 52.5
The Rose Bowl will feature an explosive Utah offense against a stout Penn State defense in Pasadena. Utah is coming off a statement win over then-fourth-ranked USC in the Pac-12 Championship game, when the Utes came back from an early 17-3 deficit to trounce the Trojans 47-24, ending USC’s playoff hopes.
Penn State didn’t play in the Big Ten Championship game, having finished third in the strong Big Ten East division led by No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State. Penn State’s only losses this season came at the hands of those two teams, which both made the College Football Playoff. Penn State’s last game was a Week 13 win at home over Michigan State.
Utah’s success has come largely thanks to a dynamic high-scoring offense: the Utes are eighth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 40 points per game, and 17th in total offense with an average of 472.7 yards per game.
The Utes’ most impressive showing was that Pac-12 Championship game, where they earned a big upset over USC and Heisman winner Caleb Williams. In that game, Utah junior quarterback Cam Rising threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, and freshman running back Ja’Quinden Jackson added 105 yards and two TDs on the ground.
“We played with a chip on our shoulder,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said Thursday. “It seemed like the media overlooked us a bit [ahead of the Pas-12 Championship game] and we used that as motivation.”
Whittingham said Utah is not making any big changes for this game and that with Penn State “committed to the run game,” that area is a focus for his defense.
Indeed, the run game has been the brightest spot for Penn State’s offense this season, led by freshman running back Nick Singleton. Singleton is in the country’s top 15 rushers in yards per carry, averaging 6.32 yards every time he takes a handoff.
Penn State senior quarterback Sean Clifford gave high praise to Singleton and his fellow backs on Thursday, as well as the Nittany Lions’ tight end core led by junior Brenton Strange. “It’s hard for defensive coordinators to keep up sometimes,” Clifford said. Both Clifford and Strange are headed to the NFL Draft in the spring.
But it’s the defense that has shone brightest for the Nittany Lions this season. Penn State is tied with Alabama for the ninth-best scoring defense in the nation, allowing an average 18 points per game. PSU is also 15th in total defense (317.8 yards allowed per game) and sixth in red zone defense.
Penn State’s rush defense will be tested by the Utes, who are 10th in the country with an average of 220.2 rush yards per game. Utah’s offense can be versatile outside the rush, though, thanks to Rising’s playmaking at QB. Rising – who grew up less than a hundred miles from Pasadena in Ventura, CA – boasts a 66.2% completion rate this season, better than Heisman winner Caleb Williams and Heisman finalist Max Duggan of TCU.
Rising says the Utes want redemption after losing the 2022 Rose Bowl, in which Ohio State scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to beat Utah 48-45. “We’re looking to finish that unfinished business,” Rising said Thursday. “We came up short last year.”
Penn State head coach James Franklin knows the Utes are a hungry and tough opponent. “I wouldn’t say there’s an obvious weakness with this team,” Franklin told media on Thursday. “It’ll be a real challenge.”
Prediction: Utah’s three losses this season have come at the hands of teams with competent defenses, and Penn State’s defense might be the best they’ve faced. Penn State’s fight against Ohio State is promising for the Nittany Lions to be able to contain Utah’s offense just enough to win this one. Look for Penn State to cover with the Over in play.
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Penn State vs Utah matchup history
Penn State and Utah have never faced each other. This is Penn State’s fourth appearance in the Rose Bowl; the Nittany Lions are 1-2 in their three previous appearances, most recently losing to USC in 2017. Utah has played in the Rose Bowl only once before – last season – and lost to Ohio State to start 2022.
History of the Rose Bowl
The Rose Bowl is the oldest active college football Bowl Game, dating back to 1902. The game has been played annually since 1916 at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California, and is played on New Year’s Day except in years when January 1 falls on a Sunday. That’s why the game is on January 2 this year.
The Rose Bowl traditionally features the Pac-12 champion and the Big Ten champion. The 2022 season’s edition features Pac-12 champion Utah (10-3) and Penn State (10-2), who didn’t win the Big Ten title but was the top Big Ten team available after Michigan and Ohio State made the four-team College Football Playoff.
Changes Coming to the Rose Bowl in 2024 and 2025
The Rose Bowl is one of the six major bowl games (known as the “New Year’s Six” for their traditional timing) that will be part of the newly-expanded College Football Playoff in 2024 and 2025. Starting in the 2024 season, the playoff will include 12 teams instead of just four, following a bracket format.
The quarterfinals and semifinals of that bracket format will be played in the bowls that have been rotating as hosts of the semifinals in the current format: Rose, Sugar, Orange, Peach, Cotton and Fiesta.
To read more about the coming changes to the Rose Bowl and CFP, click here.
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Rose Bowl: How to watch, Best Bets, Predictions, and Preview of Penn State-Utah originally appeared on NBCSports.com