CFB Picks 12/28: Cotton Bowl

Here's our CFB expert's pick for Saturday's Cotton Bowl game
Stephen Rodriguez
Fri, December 27, 7:42 AM EST

One of the oldest traditions in College Football - the Cotton Bowl – continues on Saturday afternoon before the College Football Playoff begins.

The Memphis Tigers ended the year red-hot on a seven-game winning streak, while the Penn State Nittany Lions suffered their only two losses over the last four games of the regular season.

#17 Memphis Tigers @ #10 Penn State Nittany Lions (-7), 12:00 PM:

  • Memphis has failed to cover the spread in each of the last seven games in December.
  • The Tigers have a 1-5 ATS record as an away underdog in day games since 2013.
  • Penn State has a 24-11-1 ATS record as favorites after a win since 2015. (Stats courtesy of Statschecker).

#10 Penn State (10-2) had an ideal start to the regular season, winning the first eight games, and ranked as high as the #4 nation before losing two of their last four games.

Both losses were hard fought and came on the road at #17 Minnesota and #2 Ohio State by a combined 16 points.

The Nittany Lions were dominant this season behind one of the best defenses in the nation. Penn State ranked seventh best in the nation allowing 14.1 ppg.

Sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford was a consistent dual threat for Penn State, throwing for 2,521 yards, 22 touchdowns, and six interceptions, adding 374 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

#17 Memphis (12-1) claimed the AAC Championship after back-to-back wins over the Top-20 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats; the first win was 34-24, then for the title 29-24.

The Tigers won all three of their rank matchups this season, two of which against the Bearcats. The other was a 54-48 shootout win over the #15 SMU Mustangs.

Memphis has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, totaling the eighth most points per game this season averaging 40.5 ppg.

The Tigers are led by junior quarterback Brady White and feature a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver.

White has aired it out all season, throwing for the seventh most touchdowns in the nation (33) with the 12th most passing yards (3,560).

Freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell has gained the ninth most rushing yards in the nation (1,425) with 12 rushing touchdowns.

Junior Damonte Coxie has scored nine touchdowns with the 15th most receiving yards in the FBS (1,144).

My pick is Penn State to cover the spread (-7) and the UNDER Total of 60 points.

I’m rolling with Penn State to cover the spread (-7) based on the strength of their defense.

Memphis has a respectable high-scoring offense, yet the Nittany Lions have proven this season they have the capability of slowing down some of the best offenses in the country by holding Ohio State to only 28 points on the road.

My expectation is Clifford and the Nittany Lions’ offense will provide plenty of points and the defense will do enough to contain White and the Tigers offense for Penn State to win by two possessions and cover the UNDER of 60 points.

Final score prediction: Penn State Wins 35-24

Pick: Penn State Nittany Lions -7 @ -105

Pick: Total Points - Under 60 @ -110

By Stephen Rodriguez

Stephen Rodriguez
Expert handicapper for both NBA and NCAAB with years of experience in the business
Mar 2020

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