SportsPac12: Stanford-Pitt Sun Bowl Prediction and Preview
— Featured Articles from our SportsPac12 Writers —

Stanford-Pitt Sun Bowl Prediction and Preview

December 30, 2018

  1. Stanford will make its 10th-straight bowl appearance against Pitt in the Sun Bowl.

Stanford vs. Pitt: Sun Bowl Details, Prediction, and Preview


Stanford (8-4, 6-3) vs Pitt (7-6, 6-2)
Monday, December 31, 11:00 a.m. PT, CBS
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Straight-Up: Stanford in a Close Win
Against the Spread: Stanford  (-6)

The Cardinal began the year 4-0, ranked No. 7 in both polls, with every expectation of competing for another Pac-12 Championship. But there were signs in those first games that Stanford's offense might have to reinvent itself to succeed.

Despite Bryce Love returning for his senior season, Stanford averaged just 108.3 yards per game rushing. Fortunately, the Tree's passing attack, highlighted by leaping muscle-catches by JJ Arcega-Whiteside, proved remarkably effective.

Against Pittsburgh, the Cardinal may still realize a significant advantage on the ground, despite Love choosing to sit out. The Panthers gave up 4.9 yards per carry and 22 touchdowns rushing this season, including 301 yards vs Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Pitt also gave up 30 points or more in six games this season. 

On the other side of the ball, Stanford's defense will be challenged by a pair of 100-yard rushers in Qadree Ollison and Darin Hall. However, Pitt's lack of a reliable passing game makes the Panthers fairly one-dimensional. Kenny Pickett completed just four of 16 passes for eight yards and a pick against Clemson. 

The Cardinal, meanwhile, has allowed just 15 points or fewer in five games. Paradoxically, Stanford has also give up 415 yards per contest, allowing 38 points or more four times, against Notre Dame, Utah, UCLA, and Washington State.

Expect Stanford to prevail in a offensive battle that could go back and forth with turnovers a bit of luck playing a factor in a high-scoring affair.

Against the Spread

  • Cardinal are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games in December
  • Cardinal are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games
  • Cardinal are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. ACC
  • Cardinal are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 Bowl games
  • Panthers are 7-19-1 ATS in their last 27 non-conference games
  • Panthers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Bowl games
  • Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 neutral site games
  • Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games on turf

Notes: The two teams have met three times previously, with Pitt holding a 2-1 advantage. Stanford's lone win came in the 1928 Rose Bowl, when the Cardinal spoiled the Panther's shot at an undefeated season. 

All four of Stanford’s losses this season have come against teams in the Top 20 of the College Football Playoff rankings: the No. 3, No. 9, No. 13 and No. 17 teams. (Notre Dame, Washington, Washington State, Utah). Those four teams have a combined record of 41-9, and were selected to play in the Cotton, Rose, Alamo and Holiday bowls, respectively

Stanford has played in four Sun Bowls, compiling a 3-1 record. K. J. Costello has thrown at least one scoring pass in 16 straight games. He's also thrown for 300 yards or more in seven games this season, a feat topped only by Steve Stenstrom in 1993. Costello's 3,435 yards passing is the third-most in Stanford's single-season history. Arcega-Whiteside set a single-season school record with 15 touchdown receptions.

Stanfordkey STATs and InfoPittsburgh
Pac-12 NorthConferenceACC
NRCFP Committee RankingNR
29.6Points per Game26.5
23.8Points Allowed28.8
395Yards per Game372
287.1Passing Yards per Game142.2
108.3Rushing Yards per Game229.5
416Yards Allowed per Game401
274.7Passing Yards Allowed per Game217.3
140.9Rushing Yards Allowed per Game184.1
K.J. Costello
3,435 yards (29 TDS, 11 INTS)
Passing Yardage and TD LeadersKenny Pickett
1,833 yards (12 TDs, 6 INTs)
Bryce Love
739 yards, 6 TDs
Rushing LeadersQadree Ollison
1,190 yards, 11 TDs
JJ Arcega-Whiteside
969 yards, 14 TDs
Receiving LeadersTaysir Mack
489 yards, 1 TDs
Bobby Okereke
89 total tackles
Defensive LeadersDamar Hamlin
86 total tackles

Remaining Pac-12 Bowl Game Schedule

—Monday, December 31—
Sun: Stanford vs Pitt
Redbox: Oregon vs. Michigan State
Holiday: Utah vs. Northwestern

—Tuesday, January 1—
Rose: Washington vs. Ohio State