Stanford vs Pittsburgh
When: 2:00 PM ET, Monday, December 31, 2018
Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL STORYLINES
EL PASO – Stanford will be minus several starters, including star tailback Bryce Love, wide receiver Trent Irwin, left tackle Walker Little and right guard Nate Herbig, when the Cardinal face Pittsburgh in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 31. Stanford closed the regular season with three straight wins but will be short-handed with several reserves playing key roles against the Panthers. With Love turning his focus toward the NFL draft, coach David Shaw figures to rely on an impressive passing game led by junior quarterback K.J. Costello.
Pitt won the ACC Coastal Division for the first time but lost to Miami and Clemson by 21 and 32 points in its final two games. The Panthers have two runners who combined for 2,000 yards in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, but they’ll need more production from sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett in order to keep pace with the Stanford offense. Pickett threw 12 touchdown passes but came up short in the ACC title game against Clemson, completing only four of his 16 passes for eight yards and one interception.
Stanford is in the postseason for a 10th consecutive year and has gone 4-3 under Shaw in bowl games. The Cardinal played in the Sun Bowl two years ago and held off North Carolina, 25-23. Pitt last played in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, 2008, losing 3-0 to Oregon State.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Stanford -6
ABOUT STANFORD (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12): Costello has thrown for 3,435 yards, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for the Cardinal, who are averaging 29.6 points per game and opened the season with four straight wins before losing four of its next five contests. The Cardinal had 13 players receive All-Pac-12 football honors including wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who matched a single-season school record with 14 touchdown receptions. Defensive back Paulson Adebo led the country with 23 passes defended and had two interceptions in the team’s 23-13 win over California on Dec. 1.
ABOUT PITT (7-6, 6-2 ACC): The Panthers allowed 4.9 yards per carry and 22 touchdowns on the ground and will need an improved effort to slow down Love, who has had four weeks to heal from his various injuries. Pitt will look to control the clock with a stellar offensive line paving the way for the tandem of Ollison (1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns) and Hall (935 yards and nine touchdowns). Safety Damar Hamlin had 86 tackles and two interceptions to lead the defense, which allowed 22 or fewer points in seven of the team’s 13 games – including a 19-14 loss to Notre Dame on Oct. 13.