In collaboration with M!KEDROPSPORTS
Penn State Nittany Lions (9-3) vs Kentucky Wildcats (9-3)
Date: Monday, January 1 at 12 pm CT
Location: Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL
Originated: 1947 (only Citrus Bowl since 2015)
Previous names: Tangerine Bowl (1947-1983), Florida Citrus Bowl (1984-2002), Capital One Bowl (2003-2014)
History of Conferences: SEC is 20-13, Big Ten is 12-14
Last year’s result: Notre Dame beat LSU 21-17
Penn State bowl history
Penn State missed bowl games in both 2012 and 2013 due to the Joe Paterno scandal. They are 2-2 since the bowl ban was lifted in 2014.
They have played in New Year’s Six bowl games the last two years, losing the 2017 Rose Bowl to USC while winning the 2018 Fiesta Bowl versus Washington. Since 1990, this will be Penn State’s 18th bowl game on January 1st or 2nd, out of 22 total bowl games.
Penn State is 2-3 all-time in the Citrus Bowl (or other names), including a win in their last appearance in 2007 over LSU.
Kentucky bowl history
The Citrus Bowl is Kentucky’s third straight bowl game. They have lost four bowls in a row overall. Their last bowl win came in the 2009 Liberty Bowl against East Carolina.
Kentucky is 1-2 all-time in bowl games against Big Ten opponents, including last year’s 24-23 loss to Northwestern in the Music City Bowl. This is their first appearance in the Citrus Bowl. Kentucky is 3-4 all-time in January bowl games.
The last time these two teams played was January 1, 1999, exactly 20 years ago, in the Outback Bowl.
From 1975-1978, they played four times, twice on each other’s campus, with each team winning twice.
These two head coaches have faced off once before. Back in 2013, when Mark Stoops was in his first season at Kentucky and James Franklin was in his last season at Vanderbilt, Vandy won 22-6.
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Players to watch
Penn State – Trace McSorley, QB – 16 pass touchdowns, 11 rush touchdowns
Kentucky – Benny Snell, RB – 1,305 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns
Penn State finished 9-3, but a disappointing 9-3 considering they lost to Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State. Their best wins are nothing too special, beating a down Wisconsin team and an always tough Iowa team. They did blow out the ACC Coastal champion, six-loss Pittsburgh.
If not for a late season loss to Tennessee (their 31st loss in 33 years to the Vols), UK would have been in one of the New Year’s Six Bowl games. Instead, this is not a bad consolation prize at all, playing on New Year’s day against a historic Big Ten school. Kentucky’s passing offense was brutally awful while their rushing offense was dominant.
Both teams certainly had New Year’s Six bowl aspirations. Meanwhile, Penn State might be disappointed they missed out on a possible Fiesta or Peach Bowl bid. However, Kentucky is surely happy to play in a New Year’s Day bowl game against a good Penn State team. This will be the final game for Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen along with running back Benny Snell. Certainly, the Citrus Bowl is a very deserving send off for those players as well as for Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley.