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The Granddaddy of Them All kicks off at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California Monday when the Pac-12 champion No. 7 Utah Utes (10-3) meet the Big Ten’s No. 9 Penn State Lions Nittany Lions (10-2).
Utah swept the USC Trojans this season, which included a 47-24 beatdown in the Pac-12 championship to punch its ticket to the Rose Bowl.
The Nittany Lions went from unranked in the AP preseason poll to ninth but never really had a chance at the Big Ten title or making the College Football Playoff (CFP).
Penn State’s only two losses this season however came to Big Ten East co-tenants, and CFP entrants, the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines and No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes.
The offseason has been more draining for the Utes than Nittany Lions. Utah RB Tavion Thomas and First-Team All-Pac-12 players TE Dalton Kincaid and CB Clark Phillips III all opted out of the Rose Bowl.
First-Team All-Big Ten CB Joey Porter Jr. and an injured No. 1 WR Parker Washington are Penn State’s missing players for The Granddaddy of Them All.
With that in mind, Utah is going to be humbled when stepping up in competition to play Penn State because the Nittany Lions are the toughest defense the Utes will face this season.
Betting Details (DraftKings)
- Moneyline (ML): Utah (+100), PENN STATE (-120)
- Against the spread (ATS): Utah +1.5 (-110), PENN STATE -1.5 (-110)
- Total — 54 — Over: -110, Under: -110
Utah is a hipster/fake sharp pick, and has been all season, whereas Penn State has flown under the radar because two Big Ten teams made it to the CFP.
The Utes were ranked seventh in the AP preseason poll, which is where they finished. Remember, we faded a then-overrated Utah team in its first game this season against the Florida Gators.
Florida upset Utah 29-26 and the Gators out-gained the Utes 7.2-6.4 in yards per play (YPP). Eventually, we learned that Florida wasn’t that good but forgot about Utah being average after it rolled through the lame-ass Pac-12.
Also, the Utes lost to the Gators at full strength. Utah is missing its two most decorated players for the Rose Bowl. The Utes need QB Cameron Rising to make do vs. the best defense they’ve this season without his safety blankets.
The Nittany Lions are seventh in both YPP allowed and points per play allowed. Penn State is 12th in third-down conversion rate, 6th in red zone scoring rate allowed and seventh in line yards per snap, according to Football Outsiders.
Finally, there’s some sketchy reverse line movement headed toward Penn State in the betting market. Per VSIN, roughly 60% of the bets placed at DraftKings is on Utah. Yet the Utes have gone from a slight favorite through zero and down to a slight underdog.
Maybe the sportsbooks are “laying a trap” or taking sharp money on the Nittany Lions. Either way, the line is moving in the opposite direction as the public.
Rose Bowl Best Bet: Penn State -120 ML at DraftKings Sportsbook
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