Stanford seeks season-ending win streak in Sun Bowl vs. Pitt
Line: Stanford by 4½.
Series Record: Pittsburgh leads 2-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Stanford has won three in a row and is trying to finish the season on a solid winning streak with a Sun Bowl victory for the second time in three seasons under coach David Shaw. The Cardinal beat North Carolina 25-23 in the 2016 Sun Bowl for a sixth straight win and 10-3 finish. Pitt is trying to bounce back from a 42-10 loss to playoff qualifier Clemson in the ACC championship game.
Pitt’s first pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same season — Qadree Ollison (1,190 yards) and Darrin Hall (1,021) — is key to the nation’s 18th-best running attack at 230 yards per game. Stanford allows 141 yards rushing per game, which ranks 41st nationally.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Stanford: With the school’s No. 4 career rusher, Bryce Love, skipping the game to prepare for the NFL draft, the focus turns to Cameron Scarlett and Trevor Speights, one of the leading career rushers in Texas high school football while at McAllen. Scarlett has 236 yards, compared with 211 for Speights, although Scarlett matched Love for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with six during the regular season.
Pitt: Sophomore K Alex Kessman has six of the eight longest field goals in Pitt history. One of his two 55-yarders is the longest field goal, pro or college, at Heinz Field, also home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kessman had a school record-tying 56-yarder as a freshman and has three of the 16 longest kicks in the country this season. If the opportunity is right in the thin desert air of far West Texas, he could end up with the longest field goal at Pitt.
FACTS & FIGURES
The schools haven’t faced each other in 86 years. Pitt won 7-0 at home in 1932. The other postseason meeting was Stanford’s 7-6 win in the 1928 Rose Bowl. … All four of Stanford’s losses in a midseason stretch of five games came against teams in the top 20 of the College Football Playoff rankings: Notre Dame, Washington, Washington State and Utah. … The Panthers are 2-1 at the Sun Bowl. The loss was in their most recent appearance, 3-0 to Oregon State in 2008. … Stanford WR receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside tied a school record and ranks third nationally with 14 touchdowns receiving. … Pitt played a nation-leading 11 teams that earned bowl eligibility, including two undefeated playoff qualifiers in Clemson and Notre Dame. … Stanford’s 30th bowl appearance is the school’s fifth trip to the Sun Bowl.