The Stanford Cardinal didn’t live up to expectations during the regular season, as the hope of competing for another Pac-12 title went away quickly. Stanford finally found a groove down the stretch by winning its final three games to earn an invitation to the Sun Bowl. Stanford will face off against the Pittsburgh Panthers as each side is hoping to finish the season on a high note.
Pittsburgh lost games to Miami and No. 2 Clemson to end the year and will be a slight underdog in this matchup. Stanford has been inconsistent this season so a victory is certainly not a given. This one could go either way in NCAA football betting.
The Hyundai Sun Bowl game between the Stanford Cardinal and Pittsburgh Panthers will be held at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, December 31st, 2018. The game will be nationally televised on CBS.
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Stanford has been listed as the 4.5-point favorite in this matchup. Pittsburgh is the +178 underdog while the Cardinal is the -210 favorite on the moneyline. The scoring total is listed at only 52 points, a low number but one that isn’t a surprise considering Stanford plays a throwback style and Pittsburgh is not an offensive juggernaut itself in NCAA football gambling.
Stanford running back Bryce Love is not injured but he wants to stay healthy for the 2019 NFL draft, so he has decided to skip this bowl game. It has become a more common choice by some top-round prospects as they don’t want to risk getting injured and losing a lot of money by falling in the draft.
The absence of Love will have a significant effect on this game. He is the main weapon on Stanford’s offense, as he carried the ball 166 times for 739 yards and six touchdowns on the year. Love had a down year overall, averaging only 4.5 yards per carry after surpassing 2,000 rushing yards as a junior, but decided against playing in the bowl game and trying to raise his stock.
Cameron Scarlett has carried the ball 57 times for 236 yards and six touchdowns and could be in line to get the majority of the rushing attempts in this matchup. Pittsburgh gives up 184 rushing yards per game so this still could be a good opportunity for the Cardinal to run the ball even without Love.
13. That’s the total number of points Pittsburgh has scored in its past two games against Miami and Clemson. While the defenses they faced were tough, it doesn’t get a lot easier in this one against a Stanford team which has only allowed 23.8 points per game this season.
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett has been up and down on the year. He has thrown for 1,833 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season. Pickett was dreadful last time out, completing 4-of-16 passes for eight yards and an interception against Clemson.
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Stanford might be missing its most electric player but it won’t matter that much. The Cardinal is the better team and will dominate this one in the trenches. Look for Pittsburgh to have all sorts of trouble stopping the run. Pickett should play better in this one but the Cardinal should jump ahead and get after him with pressure.
The spread in this one is too low as the oddsmakers have taken too much stock into Love’s absence. Stanford will win a fourth straight game to end the season and also cover the spread in NCAA football odds.
NCAA Football Odds: Stanford Cardinal 27, Pittsburgh Panthers 20
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