After College Football Playoff Saturday, the other bowls lose some of their steam. All of the attention focuses on the National Championship. However, there is still betting opportunities to profit from. The Rose Bowl is also a matchup to look forward to regardless if it’s a playoff game or not. It’s Urban Meyers’ retirement game*, so that makes for a storyline.
There’s also the Sugar Bowl between Georgia and Texas, but after the Bulldogs failed to make the CFP, I’m not so sure anyone cares about their matchup with the Longhorns. After Notre Dame got popped against Clemson, they might want to show that they should have been there, though.
The Stanford Cardinal and Pittsburgh Panthers will meet in the Sun Bowl on Monday. With the Sugar and Orange Bowl, this is the second oldest bowl game in the country behind the Rose Bowl. It was a disappointing season for Stanford, as they failed to get back to the Pac-12 Championship. They went to the conference championship a season ago and got tripped up by USC. With Bryce Love returning, and K.J. Costello developing at quarterback, Stanford figured to be back in the mix.
However, Love had an abysmal season and the Cardinal never threatened in the Pac-12. He still sit this one out as he prepares for the NFL Draft. Love could have gone to the NFL last season, but decided to go back to school. That decision is ultimately going to cost him some money. He’s been playing on a bad leg for nearly two years now, so avoiding the Sun Bowl wasn’t a bad decision. It won’t change anything for Stanford offensively.
They’re going to still pound the ball and look to open it up downfield off the play-action. Pitt enter the Sun Bowl after competing against Clemson in the ACC Championship. The Panthers were a surprise newcomer in the ACC Championship and they predictably got blasted by the Tigers, 42-10. Just getting to that game was an accomplishment, but I’m sure they wanted to give Clemson a bit of a test, though. Head below for our free Stanford vs. Pittsburgh pick in the Sun Bowl.
Stanford Cardinal vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Sun Bowl Betting Odds:
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Stanford vs. Pittsburgh Pick:
The biggest standout for Stanford has been wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside. He has jumped off the field more than anyone on the Cardinal this season. Arcega-Whiteside is a big target that is a major weapon in the red zone. More often than not, he will win one-on-one battles in the end zone against smaller defensive backs.
He’s hauled in 969 yards and 14 touchdowns for Stanford in 2018. The senior will not be sitting out the Sun Bowl, as he needs just 31 yards to eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time in his college career. Pitt have to be aware of the jump ball to him which is certainly coming.
K.J. Costello has quietly asserted himself as an asset for the Cardinal. After sharing time last season, he’s been the full-time starter in 2018. Costello has passed for 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions to give Stanford more of a vertical threat than in the past. If Love played like we all expected, Stanford would have been playing in the Pac-12 Championship. They still had a respectable season at 8-4, though.
Stanford’s weakness heading into this season was a young defense. As the season progressed, they showed signs of development. Pitt has been vulnerable on the ground this season. Pounding the ball has usually resulted in positive results for the offense they’re playing. The Panthers have allowed 184.1 yards per game on the ground for 87th in the FBS. Expect Stanford to lean on Cameron Scarlett who has been waiting for this opportunity as the feature back.
Pittsburgh has gotten punched in the mouth in their last two games. A bad 24-3 loss to Miami and then the drubbing against Clemson in the ACC Championship. Stanford will have to contain a two-headed attack on the ground. Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison have both already hit over 1,000 yards rushing on the ground. The Cardinal finished 40th with 140.9 yards allowed rushing per game. It’s much easier to move the ball on Stanford through the air, but that isn’t Pitt’s game with Kenny Pickett.
Pat Narduzzi has done a terrific job with Pitt this season, but going into next season, he must stress the importance of avoiding penalties. The Panthers have racked up the penalty yardage, with 70 yards of penalties per game. Conversely, Stanford are 1st in the Pac-12 with an average of 42 yards per game. That’s what you tend to expect from a David Shaw coached squad and he’s had them playing smart football again in 2018.
For a team who likely checked out of 2018 after getting punished in the ACC Championship, expect Pitt to play a sloppy game and commit too many penalties again. This should be a tightly contested game until Stanford pulls away in the 4th quarter. Costello is going to be the difference against Pickett. I like a 30-23 game with Stanford coming out on top in the Sun Bowl.