The Panthers have had an up-and-down season in 2022 but were able to finish strong with four straight victories. They hope to continue that push with an upset over the No. 18-ranked Bruins in the Sun Bowl.
The Bruins maintained an undefeated streak until Week 8 when they fell to Oregon. Chip Kelly’s squad then notched losses to Arizona and USC to finish 9-3. While the Bruins are favored to win, they might be without their star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Thompson-Robinson is “on track to play,” Kelly told reporters amid earlier reports that the QB will skip te bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Will the ranked Bruins prove their dominance, or will the Panthers take advantage of some missing pieces in their opponents’ lineup?
Here’s everything you need from a betting perspective on the game between Pittsburgh and UCLA, from the point spread, moneyline, total Over/Under and expert pick (odds via FOX Bet).
Point spread: UCLA -5.5 (UCLA favored to win by more than 5.5 points, otherwise Pittsburgh covers)
Moneyline: UCLA -227 favorite to win (bet $10 to win $14.41 total); Pittsburgh +170 underdog to win (bet $10 to win $27 total)
Total scoring Over/Under: 53.5 points scored by both teams combined
Pick via FOX Sports NFL Analyst Geoff Schwartz:
Well, how does one handicap a football game where all the best players won’t be playing? I’ll try my best. Currently, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet are scheduled to play in this bowl game for UCLA. However, I would not count on seeing one or both of them play much. Pittsburgh will be missing some pieces, too. Panthers starting quarterback Kedon Slovis has announced his transfer to BYU, while their best running back (Israel Abanikanda) is not playing Friday as he prepares for the NFL Draft. Pittsburgh is also without four defensive players who have declared for the draft.
On paper, I’d take the points with the Panthers because their defense has excelled at stopping the run, which is what UCLA does best. The Bruins are second in rushing success rate while the Panthers are 15th in rushing defense. But since Pittsburgh is down multiple defensive starters, I do not expect its rushing defense to be as stout. If UCLA’s quarterback and running back do play, the Bruins will run all over the Panthers. And even if they don’t play, UCLA’s offensive line and backup running backs can play. Plus, we know Chip Kelly can scheme an offense.
UCLA’s defense was not good this season, but Pitt is playing without its quarterback, without its best offensive weapon and without two offensive linemen. Therefore, I feel less confident in what the Panthers can do on offense. I think you must play the Bruins here or nothing else. At minimum, you get their quarterback and running back.
At worst, they have a well-schemed offense playing a bunch of backups with a defense facing the second string quarterback and half of a backup offensive line.
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