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NCAAF

Dec 31, 2018

Tuesday's Early Bowl Tips

Editor's Note: Don't miss out on college football winners this season from Joe Williams on VegasInsider.com. Click to win!

Iowa vs. Mississippi State

Outback Bowl History

-- The Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) from the Big 10 Conference will square off against the Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4 straight up, 8-4 against the spread) from the Southeastern Conference in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

-- Iowa will be playing in their sixth consecutive bowl game under head coach Kirk Ferentz, and their 16th since 2001 under his leadership. Their past two trips to the Outback Bowl haven't ended well, losing to Florida 30-3 in 2016, and 21-14 against LSU in 2013. This will be their sixth appearance in the Outback Bowl, posting a 2-3 SU record so far.

-- Mississippi State doesn't have as lengthy of a bowl history as Iowa, but they have had plenty of success when they have qualified. Mississippi State has won three straight bowls, and nine of their past 11 appearances in the postseason. This will be their first-ever appearance in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, although it will be their third consecutive bowl appearance in the Sunshine State. All-time they're 4-3 SU in seven bowl games in the state of Florida, including a 13-12 loss to Duquesne in 1936 in their first appearance in the Orange Bowl.

-- Mississippi State rolled out to a 3-0 SU/ATS start, holding a Top 25 ranking for the two of those weekends. However, back-to-back losses and offensive fizzles in a 28-7 loss to Kentucky and 13-6 loss to Florida spoiled that start. They lost three of four from Sept. 22 to Oct. 20, with only a win over Auburn to show for it. They finished up with four wins in the final five, with a shutout to National Championship Game participant Alabama as their only blemish. They routed Ole Miss 35-3 on Nov. 22 to secure their eighth victory of the season.

-- Iowa also opened 3-0 SU/ATS, including a win over rival Iowa State. They lost to Wisconsin on Sept. 22 with a 28-17 setback, but theyripped off three straight after that to get back on track and secure bowl eligibility by Oct. 20. That's a good thing, too, as they dropped three in a row at Penn State, at Purdue and home to Northwestern before wrapping up the year with back-to-back wins against Illinois and Nebraska.

 -- Iowa had difficulty on offense, ranking 79th in total yards per game (389.7 YPG), while checking in 69th in passing yards (227.7 YPG) and 74th in rushing yards (162.0 YPG). Still, somehow they managed to end up 42nd in the country with 31.5 points per game (PPG). Defense was a key to their success, ranking seventh in total yards allowed (289.6 YPG), 21st in passing yards (186.8 YPG) and fourth in rushing yards allowed (102.8 YPG). They also checked in 10th in points allowed (17.4 PPG), which will be key to whether they can win or not.

-- Mississippi State ranked 69th in total yards (402.0 YPG), while going for 175.6 YPG in passing yards to check in 111th in the nation. They did pound the ball for 226.4 YPG on the ground, finishing 11th overall. Defensively Mississippi State had it on lockdown, ranking first in the country in total yards allowed (268.4 YPG) and points allowed (12.0 PPG). They also shut down the pass with 164.2 YPG, ranking sixth, and just 104.2 YPG in rushing yards to finish 10th in the land.

-- Iowa RB Ivory Kelly-Martin (undisclosed) is listed as probable for the bowl game, while the FB Brady Ross (leg) is questionable. TE Noah Fant, who declared for the NFL Draft, will skip the bowl game, too. Fant posted 49 catches for 518 yards and seven touchdowns.

-- Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat, who is expected to go in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, will play and not skip the game.

-- Mississippi State is 4-1 ATS in the past five overall, 5-0 ATS in the past five non-conference games and 9-4 ATS in the past 13 against winning teams.

-- Iowa is 4-0 ATS in the past four non-conference games, but 1-3-1 ATS in the past five neutral-site games and 1-4 ATS in the past five overall. 

-- The 'under' is 13-3 in the past 16 against teams with a winning record and 19-7 in the past 26 overall, too.

-- The 'over' is 8-2 in Iowa's past 10 games while going 7-2 in the past nine against teams with a winning record. However, the under is 7-3 in the past 10 non-conference games and 9-4 in the past 13 neutral-site battles.

-- This will be the first-ever meeting between the Hawkeyes and Bulldogs.

-- Kickoff is slated for 12:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.

Kentucky vs. Penn State

Citrus Bowl History

-- The VRBO Citrus Bowl will feature a matchup of the Kentucky Wildcats (9-3 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) from the Southeastern Conference will face off against the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-3 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. This will be a battle featuring a pair of Top 15 teams.

-- Kentucky will finish their season in a bowl game for the third consecutive season. They're hoping to snap a four-game losing streak in the postseason dating back to their last win in a bowl on Jan. 2, 2009 against East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl. This will be their second meeting in a bowl against the Nittany Lions since Jan. 1, 1999 when the teams squared off over in Tampa in the Outback Bowl. Penn State won that game by a 26-14 score under Joe Paterno against former UK coach Hal Mumme. The Wildcats are 0-3 all-time in bowl games in the state of Florida.

-- Penn State is back in the Citrus Bowl for the first time since the game was named the Capital One Bowl in 2009, a 19-17 win over LSU with JoePa at the helm. This will be their sixth appearance in the Capital One/Citrus Bowl game, going 2-3 SU in the first five showings. After a 9-2 SU run from 1993 to 2007, they're just 3-5 SU over the past eight postseason appearances.

-- Kentucky won their first five games of the season, including impressive wins at Florida, home against Mississippi State and home against South Carolina, all bowl teams. They suffered a 20-14 overtime loss at Texas A&M on Oct. 6, but bounced back against bowl teams Vanderbilt and Missouri the following two weeks. The Wildcats had a chance to clinch the SEC East Division and make their first-ever appearance in the SEC Championship Game, but they fell short against Georgia 34-17 on Nov. 3. They followed that up with an egg-laying in Tennessee on Nov. 10, 24-7. They bounced back with two non-conference wins to close out the year, but questions remain heading into the bowl.

-- Penn State nearly lost a stunner to Appalachian State in their opener, needing overtime to survive. They opened 4-0 SU/3-1 ATS in the first four before suffering a gut-wrenching 27-26 setback against Ohio State on Sept. 29. They also lost to Michigan State the following week. After a pair of wins they were humbled at Michigan by a 42-7 score. They wrapped up the conference schedule with three straight wins against Wisconsin, Rutgers and Maryland, all 'under' results.

-- Penn State was 45th in total yards (424.3 YPG) on offense, while posting 215.8 YPG in passing yards to finish 77th. They finished 28th in rushing yards (208.5 YPG) and 30th in points scored (30.6 PPG). The Nittany Lions are strong on defense, finishing 35th in total yards allowed (354.9 YPG), while giving up just 186.5 YPG to check in 19th. They also gave up just 20.0 PPG to finish 21st in the nation.

-- Kentucky finished 101st in total yards on offense, posting just 366.9 YPG while going 116th in passing yards (164.8 YPG). Their bread and butter is the run game, going for 202.1 YPG to finish 34th in the country. Defensively the Wildcats had it on lockdown, ranking 20th in the nation (327.0 YPG) in total yards. They were 15th against the pass (181.3 YPG) while checking in eighth (16.2 PPG) in points per game allowed.

-- The one to watch for the Wildcats is RB Benny Snell Jr., who managed 1,305 rushing yards (5.0 YPC) with 14 touchdowns. 

-- For Penn State, RB Miles Sanders (207-1,223-9) did his best to fill the shoes of Saquon Barkley, while QB Trace McSorley passed for 2,285 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions while running for 723 yards and 11 more scores.

-- Kentucky covered just two of their final seven games overall. They're also a dismal 3-12 ATS in their past 15 non-conference games and 1-5 ATS in the past six on a neutral-site field.

-- While Penn State is 0-4 ATS in their past four tries against SEC teams, they're 6-1-1 ATS in the past eight non-conference battles. They're also 15-5-2 ATS in the past 22 against winning teams while going 24-9-2 ATS in the past 35 games overall, including 5-2 ATS in the past seven at a neutral site.

-- The 'under' has cashed in four straight bowl games while going 6-1 in the past seven neutral-site appearances. The under is also 11-3 in the past 14 against teams with a winning overall mark.

-- The over is 5-0 in Penn State's past five outside of the conference while going 6-1 in the past seven neutral-site battles. The over is 13-6 in the past 19 overall and 9-3 in their past 12 against teams with a winning overall record.

-- Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

LSU vs. UCF

Fiesta Bowl History

-- The Playstation Fiesta Bowl features the UCF Knights (12-0 straight up, 9-3 against the spread) from the American Athletic Conference while facing the Louisiana State Tigers (9-3 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) from the Southeastern Conference at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

-- The self-proclaimed national champion Knights won the Peach Bowl last season against Auburn, 34-27. Overall they're 4-5 SU in their nine bowl appearances, although they won their previous Fiesta Bowl showing on Jan. 1, 2014 against Baylor, 52-42. They're also 2-1 SU in three bowl games all-time against the SEC.

-- LSU has a lengthy bowl history, although lately their history in bowls hasn't been great. They're just 4-5 SU in the past nine bowl appearances after a 10-2 SU run from 1995 through 2008. This will be their first-ever appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. They're looking to bounce back after a 20-17 loss against Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl last season.

-- UCF has won 25 consecutive games dating back to their last loss, Dec. 17, 2016 in the Cure Bowl against Arkansas State. The Knights scored 31 or more points in all 12 of their games this season, including 37 or more in each of the final six. Six of the wins came against teams which qualified for bowl games, including two wins against Memphis.

-- LSU opened the season with a 33-17 win over Miami-Florida in a neutral-site battle in Arlington, Tex. They opened conference play 22-21 at Auburn to move to 3-0, and headed to Florida 5-0 on Oct. 6. The Gators upended the Tigers 27-19, however, before the Tigers bounced back 36-16 over Georgia and then 19-3 over Mississippi State. Like most, the Tigers were outclassed by Alabama 29-0 on Nov. 3 at Death Valley in an anticlimactic game. They wrapped up the regular season with an epic 74-72 loss in 7 OT against Texas A&M in front of the 11th man on Thanksgiving weekend.

-- UCF finished third in the land with 545.7 total yards per game and fifth in rushing yards (276.8 YPG). They also posted 44.2 PPG to finish fifth in the country. They slacked off slightly in passing yardage, due in part to a season-ending loss in November of Heisman candidate QB McKenzie Milton (knee). The Knights ranked 86th in total yards allowed (425.5 YPG), while finishing 118th against the run (227.5 YPG). Still, they managed to rank 21st in points allowed (21.2 PPG).

-- RB Adrian Killins Jr. (lower body), who had 698 rushing yards and four scores and 385 receiving yards and four touchdowns through the air, is listed as questionable.

-- LSU was so-so on offense, going 80th in total yards (389.3 YPG) while finishing 41st with 31.8 PPG. They posted 174.7 yards per game on the ground, finishing 58th. That might be the key to victory for the Tigers. On defense, the Tigers ranked 29th in total yards allowed (346.1 YPG), while finishing 24th in the land with just 20.9 PPG.

-- Graduate transfer QB Joe Burrow was adequate, posting 2,500 passing yards, 12 TDs and four INTs while running for 375 yards and seven touchdowns. RB Nick Brossette racked up 14 rushing touchdowns with 922 yards on the ground, while RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire added seven touchdowns with 626 rushing yards.

-- LSU leading WR Justin Jefferson (undisclosed), who posted 788 receiving yards and four touchdowns, is listed as questionable with an undisclosed ailment.

-- The Tigers are 2-5 ATS in their past seven bowl games, 1-4 ATS in the past five games in the month of January and 1-6-1 ATS in the past eight non-conference battles.

-- The Knights have cashed in four straight against winning teams while going 5-1 ATS in the past six games overall. UCF is also 5-2 ATS in the past seven non-conference battles.

-- The under is 3-1-1 in the past five games overall while going 4-1 in the past five neutral-site contests. The under is 5-2 in the past seven bowl games, too, while hitting the over in five of the past seven against winning teams.

-- The under is 7-2 in the past nine overall, while going 8-0-1 in UCF's past nine against the SEC.

-- This is the first-ever meeting between LSU and UCF on the gridiron.

-- Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

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