Cotton Bowl Betting Preview: Nittany Lions Favored Over Memphis Tigers

Written By Nathan Frederick on December 23, 2019 - Last Updated on March 26, 2021

Maybe it’s not the team or the bowl game Penn State fans were hoping for.

For a while, they were smelling roses, expecting some other Power 5 team. Instead, when the bowl games were announced, the Nittany Lions drew Memphis from the American Athletic Conference in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl.

Maybe it’s not the matchup everyone was hoping for. There’s still plenty to be excited about for Penn State fans though.

For starters, the game will be played at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium: Jerry’s World. It’s nickname inspired by Dallas’ owner Jerry Jones. Football fans are probably familiar with it, especially in light of the Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the Dallas Cowboys there just yesterday.

The Cotton Bowl is a big-time bowl game with a storied tradition. This year, Penn State is projected to win it. FanDuel Sportsbook currently has them as a seven-point favorite heading into Saturday’s game at noon on ESPN.

James Franklin seeking third bowl win at Penn State

Penn State head coach James Franklin is currently 2-3 in bowl games at Penn State, with his most recent bowl victory in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl. On the other sideline, Memphis will be sporting a brand-new coach after previous head coach Mike Norvell left the program earlier this month for Florida State.

The coaching transition could be helping Penn State a little in regard to the point spread. FanDuel has Penn State at -260 on the moneyline. Memphis is +205. Here is a look at the latest Cotton Bowl odds:

[odds-feed game=10242 sportsbooks=DraftKings,FanDuel,RiversCasinoPA styling=small odds=pointspread]

BetRivers has more than 30 wagers posted for the Cotton Bowl

Beyond the point spread, players will have plenty of options for wagering on Saturday’s game. BetRivers PA has alternate spreads available in a range of seven points from the standard line. Memphis has odds available from +14 to a pick. Penn State ranges from -14 to a pick on the other side.

FanDuel has the game’s total set at 59.5 points

Oddsmakers are expecting a good bit of offense in this year’s Cotton Bowl, with the game total set just under 60 points at FanDuel. DraftKings has the number at 60.5 points. Penn State has scored more than 24 points in four of its last five games. And Memphis has eclipsed 28 points in five-straight games.

It will be interesting to see if the Nittany Lions time off (the team’s last game was on Nov. 30) and Memphis’ coaching change affect those offensive outputs.

A number of sportsbooks have alternate totals available, ranging from 53.5 – 67.5 points.

Over at FanDuel, there are individual team totals posted for Saturday’s game. Penn State’s number is set at 33 points. Memphis’ number is 26 points.

Parx also has prop bets posted for the contest

Prop bets could also provide another entry point into Saturday’s action for those seeking different wagers. Parx Sportsbook has Penn State at -155 as the first team to score. Memphis is +114.

There are also lines available on the spreads and total for the first quarter and the first half. The Nittany Lions are -130 on the first quarter moneyline. The Tigers are +230. A tie is +375. The first-quarter total is 13.5. The first half moneyline has Penn State at -167 and Memphis at +170. A tie is +1150.

Saturday’s four-game schedule provides parlay possibilities

If you’re looking to build a parlay bet with the Penn State game Saturday, there are a few other big-time games to work with. Those games are:

  • Camping World Bowl: Iowa State (+3.5) vs. Notre Dame; 12 p.m.
  • Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Oklahoma (+13.5) vs. LSU; 4 p.m.
  • Playstation Fiesta Bowl: Clemson (-2) vs. Ohio State; 8 p.m.

So Saturday’s action kicks off with a team and a game Penn State might have liked to avoid. When it all begins, the disappointment will dissolve and the team’s mindset will be much the same as those who happen to be holding a betting ticket.

They just want to win.

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Nathan Frederick

Nathan Frederick is an award-winning writer with more than 1,000 published bylines and two decades of journalism experience. His work has won awards from the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Journalists, the Keystone Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has also authored three books, one of which debuted as an Amazon No. 1 New Release.

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