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Pitt vs. UCLA picks and best bets for Sun Bowl

The Panthers and Bruins meet in the oldest-continuous bowl game in Division I.

UCLA v California Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Pitt Panthers and UCLA Bruins meet up in the Sun Bowl on Friday, Dec. 30 in El Paso, Texas. The game kicks off at 2:00 p.m. ET, and will air on CBS.

Pitt (8-4, 5-3 ACC) was unable to replicate its 2021 success this year despite grabbing a transfer QB in Kedon Slovis. However, they did finish their season strong, with four victories in a row. Running back Israel Abanikanda was the anchor of their offense — he had nine 100-yard games and rushed for 20 touchdowns this season.

UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) created some buzz in the Pac-12 midseason, climbing the rankings alongside Oregon and USC before falling to Arizona and USC in quick succession in November. Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s name was being thrown around in Heisman discussions during his 25-touchdown season. He rushed for an additional 11 scores and threw seven interceptions in 2022.

Current lines at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: UCLA -7.5
Total: 54
Moneyline: UCLA -300, Pitt +250

Opening line: UCLA -4
Opening total: 60.5

Key players that have opted-out, injuries for Sun Bowl


DT Martin Andrus Jr. (injury)
QB Chase Artopoeus (transfer portal)
CB Kobey Fitzgerald (transfer portal)
DT Hayden Harris (transfer portal)


RB Izzy Abanikanda (Opt-out)
EDGE Deslin Alexandre (Opt-out)
EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado (Injury)
WR Jaylon Barden (Transfer portal)
WR Jaden Bradley (Transfer portal)
LB SirVocea Dennis (Opt-out)
S Brandon Hill (Opt-out)
OT Gabe Houy (Opt-out)
DT Calijah Kancey (Opt-out)
EDGE John Morgan III (Transfer portal)
QB Nick Patti (Injury)
QB Kedon Slovis (Transfer portal)
S Judson Tallandier II (Transfer portal)
EDGE Nate Temple (Injury)
OT Carter Warren (Opt-out/Injury)
WR Jared Wayne (?)
EDGE Sam Williams (Transfer portal)
QB Nate Yarnell (Illness)


56 degrees, sunny, 0% chance of rain, 10 MPH winds

The Pick

UCLA -7.5

UCLA enters with a roster at near-full strength, with Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet ready to retake the field as one of the most powerful duos in their conference. Meanwhile, Pitt is without their starting quarterback. After watching both of these teams this season, it is clear that the Bruins are the more complete squad as well as the better one by a decent margin. This spread should be a lock for UCLA.