Both teams enter the matchup with a 9-3 overall record, but oddsmakers apparently think Penn State has been the more impressive team thus far.
Not long after the bowls were announced, Penn State opened as a seven-point favorite over Kentucky, per Vegas Insider.
That’s a rather large spread, especially for two teams who, on paper, don’t appear to have a touchdown of separation between them, especially on a neutral field that’s probably going to have a stronger UK presence.
While both teams have identical records, their season’s have been far from similar. Penn State began the year with College Football Playoff aspirations. Even after losing Saquon Barkley in the NFL Draft, they still retained a lot of talent and veteran QB heading into the season.
However, Penn State’s season quickly headed downhill. They started the year narrowly escaping Appalachian State in OT, and went on to lose to Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan.
Kentucky, on the other hand, came into this season with low expectations. With a tough schedule, most Vegas Sports books projected their season win total at five wins. Kentucky would go on to surpass everyone’s expectations by upsetting Florida, Mississippi State and Missouri.
Penn State brings an excellent offense in a matchup against Kentucky’s stellar defense in what should be a fantastic game. Seldom do these teams ever face each other, so it will be a great change of pace. For Kentucky, this is a massive accomplishment to end up in a New Year’s Day bowl game.
It would be a fantastic way to finish an already great year with a win over Penn State. It’s clear that oddsmakers think it would be quite the upset if Kentucky is able to pull it off.
Then again, these Wildcats have been at their best as underdogs.