Sun Bowl prediction roundtable with the Campus Insiders staff. Breaking down what will happen between Stanford and UNC.
Christian McCaffrey’s decision not to play in the Sun Bowl has been met with some controversy. It’s true – he’s leaving Stanford high and dry, and the Cardinal aren’t going to be the same without him. North Carolina won’t have their own standout back in Elijah Hood – he’s coming back for his senior season, so not the same situation as McCaffrey – but the Tar Heels still have Mitch Trubisky. UNC wins by 10.
I actually think that Stanford wins this one, as Elijah Hood, not Christian McCaffrey, is the tailback whose absence will be felt more. Once it moved past a host of early injuries, Stanford was quite good down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels were maddeningly inconsistent against rivals Duke and NC State late in the year. Against the latter, the Heels looked disinterested, evidenced with a host of dropped passes and mental miscues. If they couldn’t get up for a home game when the division was still on the line, what hope is there for a bowl worth little more than pride? Cardinal win in a tight one.
No Christian McCaffrey, no problem … for North Carolina. Mitch Trubisky is setting up to be a top-five pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he’s going to help his case by lighting up Stanford’s secondary. I think Solomon Thomas will have a solid game for the Cardinal, but the Tar Heels are going to win this game without McCaffrey on the field.
It’s never a good thing when the Cardinal are going to be without Christian McCaffrey, who had a memorable performance in last year’s Rose Bowl. But Bryce Love is ready for a lead back role, which he will have in the game against UNC in El Paso. UNC is not stout against the run, so the Cardinal should be able to move the ball effectively on the ground. UNC will be without Elijah Hood, which is a big loss. But T.J. Logan is capable of filling that void on the ground. Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky will have a strong game in what could be his final one at UNC, but Cardinal signal-caller Keller Chryst will match his play. He threw no interceptions in Stanford’s final three games, and he can make plays with his feet. David Shaw’s motivated squad eeks out a victory to claim a 10th win for the sixth time since the 2010 season.
I’m going against my original pick of Stanford due to the fact Christian McCaffrey isn’t suiting up for the Cardinal. You simply can’t lose your best player on offense and expect to remain as productive. North Carolina wins, and everyone is slighted of a picture of head coach Larry Fedora on a beach somewhere since the game is in El Paso.