Stanford and Pitt set to face off in Sun Bowl on Monday

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By: Ana Kieu

Sure, the playoff semifinals are set for Saturday, but that isn’t the end of the 2018 bowl season. There are two full days of bowl games set for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, respectively. In the Sun Bowl, it’s an ACC and Pac-12 showdown as Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt Panthers meet David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinal at the University of Texas at El Paso on New Year’s Eve.

Here’s what you need to know about the Sun Bowl.

Stanford -4.5


Stanford is the clear favorite, while Pitt is the obvious underdog. Pitt started out the season just 3-4 before pulling off four straight conference wins to win a division title and a trip to the ACC Championship Game. The Panthers’ rushing attack was dominant, as Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison combined for over 2,200 yards and 20 touchdowns.  The backs had their fair share of explosive plays, which helped drive an offense that didn’t have quite the passing game it hoped with quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Panthers’ problems came on defense when they were prone to giving up the explosive plays and ranked 106th in Bill Connelly’s Isolated Points Per Play metric with 1.26.

As you can see, that’s not good news against a Cardinal offense that ranked 19th with a similar metric of 1.28. The Cardinal faded away from the limelight following a 4-0 start when they coughed up four losses in a five-game skid. But Shaw’s team finished strong with three straight wins heading into the Sun Bowl. Running back Bryce Love didn’t have the Heisman-caliber season that we had hoped for, but quarterback K.J. Costello stepped up in his absence. Costello threw for 3,435 yards for the third-highest single season total in Stanford history, trailing just Andrew Luck and Steve Stenstrom. Costello must continue that kind of output in the Sun Bowl as Love decided to skip the Sun Bowl to prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Like the Panthers, the Cardinal have weak points of their own. This year, it was their defense. We’re used to seeing stout units from Shaw and company, but this year’s team ranked 51st in S&P+ and struggled against the run and pass. Still, Stanford has a slight edge in record against the spread as they’ve gone 6-3-1 as a favorite this season, while Pitt has gone just 5-4 as an underdog. I think the Panthers’ running game can prevent the Sun Bowl from getting out of hand, but I doubt the Panthers can stop the Cardinal’s passing attack.

Stanford Cardinal and Sun Bowl podcast with Jerry Feitelberg: Pitt and Stanford arrive in preparation of Monday’s game Players of the Pitt Panthers and Stanford Cardinal arrived at El Paso Airport on Wednesday in preparation for the Sun Bowl scheduled for New Year’s Eve.

On the Stanford Cardinal and Sun Bowl podcast with Jerry Feitelberg:

#1 Both the Pitt Panthers (7-6) and Stanford Cardinal (8-4) arrived in El Paso on Wednesday in preparation for the Sun Bowl. It’s the first time both teams have met since 1932.

#2 Wearing a Sombrero, Stanford head coach David Shaw dances during the Sun Bowl’s pregame festivities coach. Shaw danced while a mariachi band played. It’s been something of a tradition with coaches arriving to the Sun Bowl.

#3 KJ Costello quarterback for the Cardinal will get his chance to throw in the Sun Bowl, Costello during the 2018 season threw 263 for 396 for 3534 yards and 29 touchdowns.

#4 Stanford running back Bryce Love carried 166 times for 739 yards and six touchdowns. Love has chosen not to play in the Sun Bowl because he’s preparing to join the 2019 NFL Draft.

#5 Jerry sets the stage at the Sun Bowl and who he picks to win this Bowl game.

Jerry does the Stanford Cardinal podcast each Thursday at Dec-27-2018

Stanford’s McCaffrey will not play in the Sun Bowl

Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey breaks a tackle on a run for a touchdown during a NCAA football game against the Rice Owls on November 26, 2016 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Tommy LaPorte/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

by Jerry Feitelberg

Stanford’s Alan George released a press release this morning regarding Christian McCaffrey.

December 19, 2016

McCaffrey to Miss Bowl
Running back will begin NFL Draft training

STANFORD, Calif. – Christian McCaffrey will not play in the Sun Bowl, the junior running back announced Monday. McCaffrey will direct his focus and efforts toward training for the 2017 NFL Draft.

“We understand that this was a very difficult decision. For three years Christian has not only been a great player, but a great teammate as well,” said David Shaw, Stanford’s Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. “We wish him great success at the next level, as we continue our preparation for the Sun Bowl.”

Stanford makes its 28th all-time — and school-record eighth straight — bowl appearance Dec. 30 when it faces North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. It is the third meeting between the programs and first since 1998. The game will be broadcast on CBS with kickoff set for 11 a.m. PT.