Most of the media attention surrounding the Sun Bowl has been about who isn’t playing, but two good teams will take the field in El Paso.
No. 18 Stanford (9-3) face North Carolina (8-4) on Friday afternoon. Both teams are trying to create momentum heading into the offseason after disappointing campaigns.
After a midseason swoon, Stanford is back in the top 20 and trying to finish well. But the Cardinal will be without star RB Christian McCaffrey, who is skipping the game to protect his draft stock.
UNC lost two of its last three games, and both losses came to in-state rivals who didn’t have a winning record (Duke, N.C. State). However, a victory would clinch a second straight season of 9 wins or more for the Tar Heels.
Here’s everything you need to know about Stanford-UNC:
Stanford vs. North Carolina game time, details
Time: 2 p.m. ET kickoff
Date: Friday, Dec. 30
Location: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Weather: Sunny and 56 degrees at kickoff, with a 20 percent chance of rain. Winds of 7 mph.
The line: Stanford is favored by 2 points.
What TV channel is the Sun Bowl on?
It will be televised nationally on CBS.
How can I watch the Sun Bowl online?
You can watch the game online on CBSSports.com.
How can I listen to the Sun Bowl on the radio?
For Stanford, Scott Reiss will have the call on 1050 AM (KNBR) in the Bay Area. For UNC, Jones Angell will call the game on 97.9 FM (WCHL) in Chapel Hill and 99.3 FM (WBT) in Charlotte. The full list of UNC radio affiliates can be found here.
Who is calling the game for CBS?
Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (color analyst), Allie LaForce (sideline reporter)
Keys to the game
1. How will Stanford respond without McCaffrey?
Christian McCaffrey had eight 100-yard rushing games and two 200-yard rushing games this season. The Cardinal won every one of those games. But Stanford won’t be able to lean on McCaffrey against UNC. Bryce Love will be the featured back, and QB Keller Chryst has to make enough plays to keep the Tar Heels defense honest.
2. Can UNC’s defense get third-down stops?
Duke and N.C. State were a combined 18 of 33 on third down against UNC. If Stanford can do the same thing and create sustained, clock-draining drives, the Tar Heels will have difficulty staying in the game. They have to get stops and get the ball back to their offense to win.
3. Which team determines the tempo?
Both sides have a specific offensive philosophy. UNC goes up-tempo and wants to score in bunches. The Tar Heels could get an early lead and make Stanford throw the ball to catch up. Conversely, Stanford could bleed clock and wear down the Tar Heels defense to the point where UNC’s offense barely gets on the field. The team that can dictate the pace of the game will have the best chance to win.