Penn State vs. Utah Rose Bowl Game Betting Preview: Bet Nittany Lions in Winter

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NCAAF Pick: Penn State +2.5 (-105) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

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Penn State +2.5 (-105)
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You’ll want both the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Under in your NCAAF picks for Monday’s Rose Bowl versus the Utah Utes.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Utah Utes

Monday, January 2, 2023 – 05:00 PM EST at Rose Bowl

What You Should Know

There must be some very rich people in Utah. The Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) appear to be the sharp choice for your college football picks next Monday when they take on the Utes (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) at the Rose Bowl; at press time, the early consensus reports show 72% of bettors on Penn State. Early money is sharp money, right?

And yet the Lions have moved from a pick’em to +2 on the NCAAF odds board at Bovada since the opening. Penn State even briefly hit the magic +3 before settling back down over the holidays. Is this a trap game? Or did some deep-pocketed Utes fans hammer their favorite team?

Probably not, and maybe. The Rose Bowl projections we’re looking at have this game as a virtual coin flip, and they’re backed up by the advanced stats, which suggest these two teams are evenly matched. If the books are going full-on European and trying to nudge you toward the “square” side of this contest, they’re doing it wrong.

As for those Utes' supporters, we’ll get to them in a moment - after we tell you that we’re also recommending the Under for your Rose Bowl picks. Yes, it’s the underdog-Under combo again. I hope making all this money isn’t too boring for you.

Is the Pac-12 a Mid-Major?

It might be pretty soon. The Pac-12 finished the 2022 regular season 4th overall among the FBS conferences according to the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference; that’s up from 5th last year, so at least they weren’t the worst of the Power 5 - the ACC gets the wooden spoon this time.

Of course, USC and UCLA will be moving to the Big Ten in 2024, so that’s not good news for the Conference of Champions. But it was only in 2011 when Utah and Colorado joined what was then the Pacific-10, and while the Buffaloes have rarely been good, the Utes have been a fixture in the AP Top 25 for 9 years running.

Utah’s public profile has definitely improved since making the switch from the Mountain West. The public money charts out there on the interwebs have Utah either in or close to the Top 10, just behind Penn State for the betting year thus far.

However, as you may have guessed by those consensus numbers we just quoted, that divide becomes cavernous when you look at the betting data from the past 30 days - the Rose Bowl taking up most of that action.

The Big Ten certainly has the higher profile of these 2 conferences, so ultra-rich Utah fans notwithstanding, you’d expect Penn State to get more public money overall. And maybe they will as we get closer to kick-off. If the Lions truly are the sharp side in this game, and you didn’t already get them at +3, now is probably the time to buy; we’ve already seen their college football odds get a little shorter these last few days.

Are Penn State and Utah Equally Good?

Pretty close. Football Outsiders have Penn State ranked 9th overall and Utah 10th according to their F+ efficiency stats. So does Sports Reference, with the Lions at plus-16.50 SRS and the Utes at plus-16.30 SRS. Two Spider-Men pointing at each other.

Even the 2 conferences in question were just about even this year. The Big Ten (plus-5.66 SRS) rated barely ahead of the Pac-12 (plus-5.13 SRS) in efficiency, which means Penn State and Utah have also faced roughly the same strength of schedule up to this point.

Having said all that, not even the Rose Bowl can stop the revolving door of injuries, opt-outs, and transfers, which is spinning full-tilt these days. But these teams appear to have suffered more or less equally:

Penn State

  • WR Parker Washington
  • LT Olu Fashanu
  • CB Joey Porter Jr.


  • RB Tavion Thomas
  • TE Dalton Kincaid
  • CB Clark Phillips III

Final Picks

Fashanu is the only 1 of these 6 gentlemen who might suit up Monday; all the others have been ruled out. PSU head coach James Franklin said last week that he plans on Fashanu being available, so that’s one more reason to bet on Penn State.

As for the Under, Monday night’s weather forecast calls for light rain over Pasadena. Wait, it rains in Southern California? Bet accordingly, and may the prolate spheroid be with you in 2023.

For Golden State residents looking to bet on this bowl, you can check out our top California betting sites.

NCAAF Pick: Penn State +2.5 (-105) at Bookmaker

NCAAF Pick: Under 52.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Under 52.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.