Preview: Stanford at North Carolina

When: 2:00 PM ET, Friday, December 30, 2016
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas


1. Stanford star running back Christian McCaffrey was a key part of the team’s five-game winning streak to close the regular season, but the junior will not play when the Cardinal face North Carolina in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 30 in El Paso, Texas. McCaffrey, who leads the nation with 2,327 all-purpose yards and has posted 1,603 rushing yards, announced on Twitter that he will sit out the Sun Bowl to focus on his NFL draft preparation. McCaffrey’s early departure creates an opportunity for promising sophomore Bryce Love, who has three rushing touchdowns and averages 7.4 yards per carry.

2. The Sun Bowl may lack its original star power, but North Carolina junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky is an emerging NFL prospect who threw for nearly 3,500 yards and completed 69 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns against four interceptions. The Tar Heels’ roller-coaster campaign included wins over Florida State, Miami and Pittsburgh as well as disappointing late-season losses to Duke and North Carolina State. “We weren’t able to overcome all the emotions we created for ourselves,” coach Larry Fedora told reporters. “There were a few games down the stretch that we didn’t play up to our capability. We didn’t make the ordinary plays that we needed to make.”

3. North Carolina needs a complete effort against Stanford, which fell out of the Pac-12 race with back-to-back losses to Washington and Washington State but ended the season by winning six of its final seven games. The Tar Heels allowed 235 yards per game on the ground and 28 rushing touchdowns, which doesn’t bode well against a Stanford offense that figures to give Love a heavy workload. If North Carolina’s front seven can bottle up Love, the Cardinal could struggle to keep pace with the Tar Heels’ explosive offense.

TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Stanford -3

ABOUT STANFORD (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12): After watching his offense struggle early in the season, Shaw replaced senior quarterback Ryan Burns with sophomore Keller Chryst, who provided an immediate spark and led the Cardinal to five straight wins while throwing nine touchdowns and one interception. Wide receivers JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Trenton Irwin became key late-season factors for the Cardinal, who posted over 500 yards of total offense in each of their last three games. Defensive end Solomon Thomas recorded 55 tackles and seven sacks to lead a unit that allows 20.2 points per game and has been especially tough in the red zone.  

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (8-4, 5-3 ACC): Trubisky has a number of weapons at his disposal, including senior wideout Ryan Switzer, a dangerous punt returner and first-team All-ACC selection who leads the team with 91 receptions for 1,027 yards and five touchdowns. The Tar Heels also boast an effective ground game led by versatile junior Elijah Hood (eight touchdowns) and senior T.J. Logan, who added seven touchdowns on 101 carries. On defense, the Tar Heels are led by linemen Nazair Jones and Malik Carney along with linebacker Andre Smith, who recorded a team-high 110 tackles.

PREDICTION: North Carolina 27, Stanford 23

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Stanford 9-3 W5 26.4 20.2 4-2 5-1 7-2 0-0 6-3
North Carolina 8-4 L1 33.1 24.9 4-3 4-1 7-3 0-0 5-3

Last Meeting

Stanford North Carolina
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
9/19/98 UNC 34 STAN 37 451 112 339 394 90 304

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
TDs Player TD
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
STAN R. Burns 62.2 1072 5 7
UNC M. Trubisky 68.9 3468 28 4
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
STAN C. McCaffrey 253 1603 6.3 13
UNC E. Hood 145 858 5.9 8
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
STAN T. Irwin 36 437 12.1 1
UNC R. Switzer 91 1027 11.3 5
TDs Player TD
STAN C. McCaffrey 16
UNC T. Logan 12

Quickchart Matchup

Stanford Off vs  North Carolina Def
374.7 yards
418.5 yards
5.4 yards/rush
4.5 yards/rush
6.6 yards/attempt
7.2 yards/attempt
North Carolina Off vs  Stanford Def
442.4 yards
365.6 yards
4.9 yards/rush
4.2 yards/rush
8.4 yards/attempt
6.6 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Stanford Overall North Carolina
9-3-0 W/L 8-4-0
7-5-0 ATS 7-5-0
5-7-0 O/U 4-8-0
26.4 Pts For 33.1
20.2 Pts Against 24.9
Stanford A/H North Carolina
5-1 W/L 4-3
5-1-0 ATS 3-4-0
3-3-0 O/U 3-4-0
29.3 Pts For 32.9
22.5 Pts Against 26.6
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