The 2022 Sun Bowl features the 8-4 Pittsburgh Panthers against the 9-3 UCLA Bruins. Here is the 2022 Sun Bowl preview.
Pittsburgh Panthers (8-4)
Pittsburgh won eight games this season to make it to their second-straight bowl game. They defeated two bowl-eligible teams: Syracuse and Duke. One of their losses, to Georgia Tech, came to a team that didn’t make a bowl game.
The Panthers score 30.8 points per game, tying them for 45th in the country. They average 221.2 passing yards (ranked 79th) and 181.2 rushing yards per game (ranked 44th).
Kedon Slovis was the starting quarterback for the Panthers, but he is now in the transfer portal. Nick Patti is projected to start after throwing for 79 yards and one touchdowns during the regular season. Four receivers have at least 250 yards this season. Jared Wayne leads the team with 55 receptions for 1,012 yards and five touchdowns. His status for this game is up in the air, but he hasn’t opted out yet.
Leading rusher Israel Abanikanda has opted out for this bowl game. Rodney Hammond Jr., Vincent Davis and C’Bo Flemister each have run decently behind him with over 200 rushing yards on the season.
Their defense allows 23.4 points per game, tying them for 42nd in the country. They give up 95.5 rushing yards (ranked 8th) and 224.2 passing yards per game (ranked 67th). Leading tackler SirVocea Dennis has opted out for this game. He also tied for the team lead with seven sacks with Calijah Kancey, who has also opted out. A.J. Woods has been great in the secondary with 12 passes defended and one interception.
UCLA Bruins (9-3)
UCLA won nine games this year, which qualified them for their second-straight bowl game. The Bruins defeated Bowling Green, South Alabama, Washington and Utah, who all made bowl games. Their loss to Arizona was the only one to a team that didn’t make a bowl game.
The offense puts up 39.6 points per game, ranking them 10th in the FBS. They pass for 261.5 yards (ranked 38th) and rush for 246.3 yards per game (ranked 4th).
Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the experienced quarterback for the Bruins. He has 2,883 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 69.8 percent completion. Seven players have at least 200 receiving yards on the season. Jake Bobo leads the team with 54 receptions for 789 yards and seven touchdowns.
The leading rusher for the Bruins is Zach Charbonnet with 1,359 yards and 14 touchdowns. Thompson-Robinson is behind him with 631 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Defensively, they concede 28.3 points per game, tying them for 84th in the country. They allow 124.2 rushing yards (ranked 29th) and 275.7 passing yards per game (ranked 120th). Mo Osling III leads the team with 84 total tackles. Laiatu Latu has the team-high with 9.5 sacks. Azizi Hearn has the team-high with six passes defended.
Pittsburgh has so many opt-outs it is hard to see them keeping the game close. UCLA should win and by a few scores.
UCLA Bruins 45 Pittsburgh Panthers 28
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