Sun Bowl 2018: Stanford vs. Pitt TV Schedule, Time and Odds

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 30, 2018

Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside points to the fans after scoring on a 4-yard reception during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Stanford and Pittsburgh have taken two of the longest trips of the college football bowl season to El Paso, Texas, to play in the Sun Bowl.

The Cardinal had to travel 1,159 miles to get to the Sun Bowl, while the Panthers ventured more than 1,800 miles.

Both teams went on long winning streaks in the regular season, but they also suffered disappointing defeats that stood in the way of a better postseason placement.

After losing four times in a five-game span, the Cardinal responded with a three-game winning run to reach 8-4, while Pittsburgh enters on a two-game losing streak after stringing together five wins in a span of six games.

Although Stanford goes into the Sun Bowl as the hotter team, it will be at a disadvantage without running back Bryce Love, who is focusing on the 2019 NFL draft.

                          

Sun Bowl Information

Date: Monday, December 31

Time: 2 p.m. ET

TV: CBS

Live Stream: CBS Sports app

Odds (via OddsShark)Stanford -4.5; Over/Under: 52

                 

Preview

Even though Stanford is playing without Love, it still carries plenty of firepower into the Sun Bowl.

Quarterback K.J. Costello improved immensely in his junior campaign, throwing for 3,435 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Costello's top target is wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who will be an intriguing player to watch in April's NFL draft, as he's an ideal size at 6'3", 225 pounds.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

With 31 receiving yards Monday, the senior wide receiver will eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career.

When Stanford gets down in the red zone, Arcega-Whiteside will be the go-to guy for Costello, as he tries to use his height to gain leverage over Pittsburgh's defensive backs.

David Shaw's team doesn't need to dominate the game on the ground with Love sitting out, but it needs to generate some yards through senior Cameron Scarlett, who is in line for a significant uptick in touches.

In the regular season, the most carries Scarlett received was nine against both UC Davis and Arizona State, and in the latter, he recorded his season high of 54 yards.

Pittsburgh doesn't have many concerns when it comes to its running game, as the Panthers boast a pair of 1,000-yard rushers.

Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall combined for 2,211 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and if Pat Narduzzi's team is to leave south Texas with a victory, it will be because of the production on the ground.

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Ollison and Hall need to regain a bit of form since neither reached triple digits in his final three games.

Before the drought of 100-yard performances began, Ollison and Hall wreaked havoc on Virginia Tech, with Ollison running for 235 yards and Hall contributing 186 of his own.

The Panthers should find a decent amount of success against Stanford's defense, which ranks 38th in the FBS.

Although Stanford gives up 3.9 yards per game on the ground, it conceded 140.9 yards per game and 16 touchdowns, which means the Pitt running backs have to grind for yards.

The offensive concern for Pittsburgh comes in the other aspect of the game, as quarterback Kenny Pickett faces a talented Stanford secondary.

Led by Paulson Adebo, the Cardinal have three players with multiple interceptions and six players with a pick on the roster.

The good news for Pittsburgh is Pickett has only thrown six interceptions, but he hasn't been too productive, as he's thrown 12 touchdown passes.

If Pickett establishes a bit of consistency in the pocket, Pittsburgh could control the game and rebound from its 42-3 loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship.

                            

Prediction

Stanford 27, Pittsburgh 23

Both teams play to their strengths, with Stanford thriving through the air and Pittsburgh achieving success on the ground.

Stanford finds a way to get a few stops in the second half, and it puts enough pressure on Pickett to force an interception or two.

The Panthers hang in the contest until the end by scoring a late touchdown to make it a one-score game, but they won't be able to fight all the way back.

                           

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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