Pitt Takes on Stanford in Sun Bowl Monday

| December 31, 2018

EL PASO, Texas – Stanford and Pitt will meet in the Hyundai Sun Bowl at 2 p.m. Monday.

(Photo of Qadree Ollison. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)

The game will be broadcast on CBS.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi talks from Sun Bowl practice. Video courtesy of UPMC Pitt LiveWire.


The Panthers started the season 3-4 but won four straight to earn the ACC Coastal Division Title. The Panthers, however. lost its final two games to Miami (Fla.) and Clemson by a combined score of 66-13 including a 42-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship game and enter the game at 7-6.

It’s not secret Pitt wants to run the ball and averages 229.5 yards per game, 18th-best in the nation, on the ground led by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Qadree Ollison (1,190 yards, 11 TDs) and Darrin Hall (1,021 yards, 9 TDs). It is the first time in school history Pitt has had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett has had an up-and-down season and has thrown for 1,833 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions while running for another 195 yards and three scores. But Pickett is coming off an awful performance vs. Clemson when he was 4 of 16 for 8 yards and an interception.

Top receivers for the Panthers are Taysir Mack (21 catches, 489 yards, 1 TD), Maurice Ffrench (30 catches, 466 yards, 6 TDs) and Rafael Araujo-Lopes (36 catches, 367 yards, 4 TDs).

Defensively, Pitt allows 401.4 yards per game including 217.3 through the air.

This is Pitt’s 34th all-time postseason appearance and its fourth appearance in the Sun Bowl. The Panthers are 2-1 in its previous three appearances with the most recent coming in 2008 when it lost to Oregon State, 3-0.

The Panthers are 2-1 all-time against Stanford but the two schools haven’t played in 86 years. The Cardinal won the lone postseason meeting, 7-6, in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2, 1928. Pitt claimed regular-season wins in 1922 (16-7) and 1932 (7-0).

Pitt played a national-best 11 bowl-eligible teams this year, including undefeated College Football Playoff entrants Clemson (13-0) and Notre Dame (12-0). The Panthers also faced a 12-0 UCF team that finished No. 8 in the final CFP rankings.


The Cardinal are 8-4 on the year having started 4-0 before losing four of its next five but rebounding to win three in a row to close out the year. Two of the loses were to Top 15 teams in Notre Dame and Washington State.

Offensively, the Cardinal want to throw the football averaging 287.1 yards per game through the air but only 108.3 on the ground.

K.J. Costello is the trigger man and is completing 66.4 percent of his passes (263 of 396) for 3,435 yards and 29 touchdowns while tossing 11 interceptions.

His top targets are JJ Arcega-Whiteside (60 catches, 969 yards, 14 TDs), Trenton Irwin (60 catches, 685 yards, 2 TDs), Kaden Smith (47 catches, 635 yards, 2 TDs) and Colby Parkinson (28 catches, 476 yards, 7 TDS).

Already not running the ball well, Stanford will be without leading rusher Bryce Love (808 yards, 6 TDs), who aggravated an ankle injury in the regular-season finale against Cal and who is rehabbing while preparing for the NFL draft. Stanford is also down a pair of offensive linemen in tackler Walker Little and guard Nate Herbig.

Defensively, the Cardinal rank 40th in the nation against the run allowing 140.9 yards per game.

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