HOW TO WATCH
Time: 1 p.m. ET/Noon CT
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An SEC-Big 10 match up awaits us on New Year’s Day between two teams who should feel the same way about their seasons. Both the Kentucky Wildcats and Penn State Nittany Lions had really nice seasons, but definitely left some opportunities on the table to add to their win total. The Wildcats and Nittany Lions each enter this game at 9-3, and Kentucky is looking to achieve its first 10-win season since 1977. Penn State, meanwhile, is trying to get to that magic win number of ten for the third consecutive season.
These offenses like to move down the field via the run and both have had plenty of success doing it. For Kentucky, the running game starts with their beloved running back Benny Snell Jr. This will be his last game as a Wildcat, as he has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. On the season, Snell has 1,330 yards on the season on 263 carries and 14 touchdowns. Snell is 107 yards from beating out Sonny Collins to become Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher in what would be an awesome accomplishment for him.
When Snell needs a spell, (see what I did there), Asim Rose has proven to be a viable backup. He racked up 125 carries and 518 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Terry Wilson complements Snell and Rose in the running game too, as he added 518 yards on 125 carries and four touchdowns. Wilson has been better throwing the ball of late and the sophomore finished with a respectable 67.6 completion percentage while going for 1,768 yards and 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
When Wilson does throw, his favorite target is Lynn Bowden Jr., who caught 62 balls for 661 yards and five touchdowns.
Prepare to see similar things for Penn State. Miles Sanders has stepped into the very large shoes of Saquon Barkley and done quite well for himself. The junior punched in nine touchdowns on 207 carries and piled up 1,223 yards for the season. When he needs a breath Ricky Slade has stepped in, and and he himself had 230 yards and six touchdowns on 41 carries.
Their quarterback Trace McSorley ran it himself 151 times for 723 yards and got into the end zone 11 times. McSorley did not however have the season he wanted to have throwing the ball. The senior only completed 53.5 percent of his passes for 2,285 yards. After throwing for 25+ touchdowns the last two seasons, he only was able to manage 16 this years against six interceptions. His favorite target KJ Hamler brought in 42 passes for 714 yards and five touchdowns.
Kentucky’s defense which has been excellent all year will get one more shot. The best Josh Allen in football will be taking the field for the final time for Kentucky. The man came back to improve his draft stock and boy did he. 14.0 sacks, 18.5 tackles for a loss as well being the Wildcats leading tackler with 84. For Penn State defensively their pass rush and defense is led by Yetur Gross-Matos and Shareef Miller who had eight and seven sacks respectively. Robert Windsor is also very capable with 6.5 sacks. Freshman linebacker Micah Parsons is their leading tackler with 69 in total.