As you can imagine, the college football odds for this game are tight. The Nittany Lions are a -4.5 favorite when the two sides clash on Saturday at noon Eastern.
Saturday’s matchup should be a “peach” of a game. Join me as I break it down and give my best free football picks for the Peach Bowl matchup between Mississippi and Penn State on Saturday, December 30.
Mississippi vs. Penn State Best Bet
Playing in a New Year’s Six matchup should be exciting, but for Mississippi and Penn State, it’s a bitter reminder that as good as these groups are, it’s a tremendous challenge for the Rebels to get past Georgia and Alabama and equally daunting for the Nittany Lions against Ohio State and Michigan.
Typically, opt-outs and the transfer portal are the story of these bowl games. Still, neither team has been greatly affected, with most of their offensive and defensive units intact.
Mississippi ended its 2023 campaign with a 10-2 record in a tough SEC conference. Road losses to No. 2 Georgia and No. 13 Alabama dashed their FBS playoff hopes, but the Rebels are a good football team with the 18th-best scoring offense and 40th-best scoring defense.
Penn State has won 21 consecutive matchups if we don’t count the four losses over the past two seasons to the Wolverines and Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions offense scored the 12th-most points while allowing the third-fewest points per game.
The Nittany Lions defense took a hit when DE Chop Robinson opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft. They will miss him, but this unit was stout all season, ended third nationally in points allowed, and will be a load for Rebels signal-caller Jaxson Dart to handle.
Make no mistake: Mississippi can score the football. It’s what they do, and Dart has fired 20 scoring strikes with five interceptions. He’s decent with his feet, scored seven rushing TDs, and boasts three Rebels with 700+ receiving yards, with running back Quinshon Judkins scampering for 1000+.
Penn State leads the nation in rushing yards allowed, and if that wasn’t enough, the Nittany Lions were first nationally in sacks (4 per game). The Rebels have a 1000+ rusher, but he’ll have difficulties, and Dart has been dumped 26 times this season.
That should give the Nittany Lions enough stops, but Penn State quarterback Drew Allar must deliver for them to cover the spread, and I believe he will. He struggled against Ohio State and Michigan but threw for 23 TD passes with just one interception on the season, with multiple passing TDs in three of his last five. Allar has all his primary weapons available, with a pair of big running backs scampering for +700 yards each against a Mississippi defense, allowing 22.3 points per game.
Finally, Penn State has too much on both sides of the ball. The Nittany Lions were 9-3-0 ATS this season with one of the best defenses nationally. Mississippi may be motivated to reach 11 wins, but the Rebels were 1-2-0 ATS as the underdog. It should be a great matchup, but take Penn State to cover the -4.5.
My best bet: Penn State -4.5 (-110) at DraftKings Ohio
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