Citrus Bowl Staff Predictions: No. 12 Penn State vs. No. 14 Kentucky
No. 12 Penn State football will wrap up its 2018 campaign in the Citrus Bowl against No. 14 Kentucky.
The Wildcats didn’t enter this season with too many expectations, but got started with seven victories in eight games. However, consecutive losses to Georgia and Tennessee derailed any conference and national championship hopes they may have had.
Our staff is confident that Penn State will secure its third consecutive 10-win season with a victory in Orlando.
Ethan Kasales (9-3): Penn State 34, Kentucky 27
I see Miles Sanders putting together a big performance against the Wildcats in what could be his final game as a Nittany Lion. The outcome may not be decided until late in the fourth quarter given the strength of these two defenses.
Brian Bachman (7-3): Penn State 31, Kentucky 20
Kentucky is a better team than you might think, but I don’t see Penn State losing this game. Expect Trace McSorley’s final performance for the Nittany Lions to be a big one, as he’s had a month to rest his injured knee. Ryan Bates will also serve an important role, facing a tall task in Kentucky’s best player: star outside linebacker Josh Allen.
Andy Mollenauer (3-2): Penn State 30, Kentucky 24
Kentucky’s defense should create some cause for concern, allowing an average of 16.3 points per game, but a Penn State offense with Trace McSorley
under behind center shouldn’t be underestimated, either. This should be a very run-heavy game for both offenses — Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. is on pace to cement his name in program history, and the Nittany Lions have the luxury of both a solid running back in Miles Sanders and a dual-threat quarterback in McSorley. Both teams should find the end zone a handful of times through the run game, and watch out for KJ Hamler to put the cherry on top with a score of his own. Penn State’s offense will prevail in a hard-fought battle against a formidable defense and win in a one-possession decision.
Anthony Fiset (7-3): Penn State 28, Kentucky 17
Not even Josh Allen — Kentucky’s stud edge rusher — can stop Trace McSorley from tying a bow on his illustrious Penn State career with a win in the Citrus Bowl. The gritty senior will leave everything on the field in Orlando to make sure that beautiful bowl of citrus comes home with the Nittany Lions. Penn State has a lot to prove after a pair of heartbreaking home losses spoiled a promising season for this young group. Still, a win would likely secure the program’s third-straight top 10 finish, so you can bet that James Franklin’s squad will play with a purpose on New Year’s Day.
Will Pegler (5-3): Penn State 35, Kentucky 24
I don’t expect Trace McSorley to disappoint in his last game as a Nittany Lion. The senior quarterback has plenty of weapons to work with on offense and will be able to utilize them throughout the day despite lining up against a stud outside linebacker in Josh Allen. The Nittany Lions will come into this one with a chip on their shoulder after not making it to a New Year’s Six game, likely propelling them to a win and another top 10 finish.
Austin Smith (2-2): Penn State 24, Kentucky 17
I expect Miles Sanders to make a big impact on New Year’s Day. While Trace McSorley will definitely create his fair share of highlight-reel moments, the Nittany Lions should lean on the ground game due to inconsistent receiver play. With that being said, Kentucky is no joke, either, featuring a solid run of game of its own led by Benny Snell. If Penn State’s offense can neutralize Josh Allen and get its playmakers in open space, McSorley should be able to end his stellar career with one last victory.
Matthew Fox (9-2): Penn State 38, Kentucky 17
Trace McSorley will find a way to consistently move the ball against a stingy Wildcat defense, and the young Nittany Lion defense will bottle up a solid Kentucky offensive attack. It’ll be bittersweet watching McSorley’s last game, but it also provides an opportunity for young players such as Ricky Slade, Micah Parsons, and maybe even the REAL Heisman winner, Sean Clifford an opportunity to give fans a glimpse of the future. It should be a fun game to watch.
Derek Bannister (9-3): Penn State 35, Kentucky 21
Trace McSorley won’t lose in his last game as a Penn Stater. He’s the player in this game that can make the biggest difference because Kentucky really doesn’t have an offensive threat that compares. Josh Allen will be the focus for the Penn State offensive line, and that group should be able to contain the defender with the right schemes.
Mikey Mandarino (9-3): Penn State 23, Kentucky 21
Kentucky is a really good football team, so I don’t think Penn State will blow its opponent out of the water in the Citrus Bowl. Josh Allen is obviously a phenomenal player who has a very bright NFL future ahead of him, and Benny Snell is one of the greatest running backs in program history. Starting quarterback Terry Wilson is the consummate dual-threat quarterback, and the Nittany Lions have struggled quite a bit against mobile signal callers this season. This is going to be a tight game, but Trace McSorley will engineer one last game-winning drive for Penn State by setting up a buzzer-beating field goal for Jake Pinegar.
Elissa Hill (10-2): Penn State 28, Kentucky 24
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