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Bowl preview: #18 Stanford @ North Carolina

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By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
On December 30, 2016 at 10:53 am EST

On Friday afternoon, the #18 Stanford Cardinal faces the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Hyundai Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. The game will be on CBS at 2 pm EST.

Mitch Trubisky (Getty Images)

Mitch Trubisky (Getty Images)

The Cardinal are 9-3, while the Tar Heels are 8-4. Stanford was 5-1 on the road, while North Carolina was 4-1.

This is the third meeting between these two teams. They haven’t played each other since Sept. 19, 1998 when Stanford won 37-34.

On Sept. 13, 1997, North Carolina won the initial meeting 28-17.

Stanford will be without its star running back Christian McCaffrey, who elected to sit out the bowl game. McCaffrey, who declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, is using this extended time to prepare for the draft.

McCaffrey led the nation with 2,327 all-purpose yards. He also had 1,603 rushing yards on the season.

Cardinal sophomore running back Bryce Love is expected to fill-in for McCaffrey.

“He’s an every-down back,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said. “He’s physical, explosive runner. He’s not a small back by any stretch of the imagination. He runs through tackles and he’s tough. For a guy, who’s under six foot, he can push the pile and drive the legs.”

Unlike McCaffrey, North Carolina star quarterback Mitch Trubisky is playing in the bowl game. He’s expected to be the top quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft after he declares following the bowl game.

“Mitch and I have had multiple conversations,” North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said. “He’s got a decision to make, and he will make it at some point. My role in that is to give him as much information as possible and to support him and his family in their decision.”

North Carolina is 14-18 in their previous 32 bowl games. They have won their previous two bowl games.

The Tar Heels have not won a bowl game since Dec. 28, 2013 when they defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 39-17 in the Belk Bowl.

Stanford is 13-13-1 in their previous 27 bowl games. They have won their last two bowl games.

The Cardinal have not won a bowl game since losing 24-20 to the Michigan State Spartans in the 2014 Rose Bowl.

Stanford is 4-0 in their last four neutral site games. They are also 4-0 in their last four contests against Atlantic Coast Conference teams. They are also 7-0 in their seven December games.

North Carolina is 0-5 in their last five neutral site games. They are also 5-0 in their last five games when they allowed 200 or more rushing yards in their previous game.

Stanford has won their past five games. They haven’t lost since Oct. 22 when they lost 10-5 to the Colorado Buffaloes.

North Carolina lost its previous game to the North Carolina Wolfpack. They haven’t won since Nov. 19 when they defeated The Citadel Bulldogs 41-7.

Ryan Burns led the Cardinal attack with 1,065 passing yards. He had five touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

McCaffrey had 1,603 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Trenton Irwin had 437 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Trubisky leads the Tar Heels attack with 3,468 passing yards. He has 28 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Elijah Hood has 858 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Ryan Switzer has 1,027 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

“We’ve got to finish our last game,” Trubisky said. “That’s been one of our goals, to win our last game and to beat a big name like Stanford, that’s going to be a quality win. So we’re preparing as hard as we possibly can. We’re doing this for each other and for the program as well. This is a big game for us. We need to get this win.”

Any Corrections?. You can contact Anthony at publisher@thecapitalsportsreport.com.

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