Two good (but mostly overlooked) teams will square off in El Paso on Friday, as the Pitt Panthers are set to take on the UCLA Bruins in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl — a game that’s not always good but has never failed to be interesting.
UCLA is the clear betting favorite in this one, coming in laying 7.5 points to the Panthers. The Bruins are 6-6 ATS this season and 9-3 overall, while Pitt is 5-7 ATS and 8-4 overall. The O/U in this one has been set at 54.
Sun Bowl Betting Odds
UCLA was a bit of a surprise in their fifth year under Chip Kelly, rising as high as #9 in the rankings at one point. Pitt, on the other hand, just keeps doing what Pitt does under Pat Narduzzi — win eight or nine games as quietly as possible.
Seven and a half points is a healthy betting spread for a college bowl game, so do we think UCLA has what it takes to cover?
Read on to find out.
Sun Bowl Info
- Teams: #18 UCLA Bruins (PAC-12 #6, 9-3) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (ACC #4, 8-4)
- Date: Friday, December 30
- Time: 2 p.m. EST
- Location: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX
- Channel: CBS
Where to Bet on the 2022 Sun Bowl (Panthers vs Bruins)
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Large gambling sites like BetOnline can offer you:
- Great odds: You’ll find the latest odds on any contest you can think of. Thanks to the magic of the internet, these lines can be updated in real-time, so you’ll always have the best possible price on your game of choice.
- Tons of options: You’d be amazed how many games you can bet on — and that’s just when looking at college football. You can bet on pretty much any FBS game and most lower-level games as well, then, once football season is over, you have the option of wagering on hundreds of other sports across the globe.
- Generous deposit bonuses: Most larger sites have a ton of exciting bonuses waiting for new and existing players alike. Virtually every time you make a deposit, you can get a little boost, often in the form of a deposit match or a free bet or two.
Claim a Bonus to Bet On the 2022 Sun Bowl (Pitt vs UCLA)
If you have a strong hunch about what will happen in the 2022 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, BetOnline has a special offer where they’ll match 50% of your first deposit up to $1,000 using code BOL1000.
To qualify, you’ll need a minimum deposit of $55, and you’ll have to satisfy a 10x wagering requirement within 30 days.
This is a fantastic deal and one of many that BetOnline has trotted out in its 25+ years of being in business. As one of the oldest and most trusted online sportsbooks in the world, it’s a great place to bet on the Sun Bowl — or any other college football game, for that matter.
Related: Best football betting sites
Sun Bowl History
While most hardcore college football fanatics will correctly identify the Rose Bowl as the longest-running college bowl game, many would be surprised to discover that the Sun Bowl is actually second on that list (tied with the Sugar Bowl).
First played on January 1, 1935, this game is usually held on one of the last days in December, and since 2011, it’s pitted teams from the ACC and PAC-12 conferences. Like the Rose Bowl, it’s played in one of the most picturesque settings in college football, in a small open-air stadium nestled into the gorgeous Franklin Mountains.
The Sun Bowl has never been considered a top-tier bowl — no national championships have ever been decided on its turf — but it’s staked out a reputation among college football fans as one of the quirkiest (and often downright weird) games during the bowl season, making it perennial must-watch TV.
The weather in El Paso often impacts the quality of the game. In 1974, North Carolina and Mississippi State played in “the Fog Bowl,” as a freak blizzard before the game was quickly melted by the west Texas sun, causing steam to rise off the field. Visibility at field level was minimal, but players were fortunately able to avoid major injury in the Bulldogs’ 26-24 win.
Strange weather has already had an impact on this one, as canceled flights left three Pitt players stranded in Dallas with no clear path to making it to El Paso in time. As luck would have it, though, the players hooked up with UTEP basketball coach Joe Golding, who drove them 600 miles to West Texas with plenty of time to spare.
Pitt actually played in one of the more memorable Sun Bowls — the 2008 edition against Oregon State, which has been dubbed by many experts “the worst bowl game ever played.” Both teams were completely hapless, with the Beavers ultimately prevailing 3-0. The game featured 5 turnovers and 20 punts — so, while it wasn’t pretty, it was certainly entertaining.
The Panthers were last here in 2018 when they lost a nail-biter 14-13 to Stanford. UCLA hasn’t been at the Sun Bowl since 2013 when they demolished Virginia Tech 42-12.
This year’s Sun Bowl features two highly competent teams — on paper, at least. However, as anyone who’s followed this game can tell you, anything can happen here after kickoff.
Pittsburgh Panthers vs UCLA Bruins Predictions (Sun Bowl 2022)
At first glance, this game seems set up to be an easy matchup for the Bruins. They’ve played (and beaten) tougher competition this season, and they definitely have the edge in terms of overall talent.
Logic and reason often go out the window in the bowl season, though, and that’s doubly true in El Paso.
Also, in recent years, there are few teams that have enjoyed being agents of chaos more than Pitt, as mediocre Panthers squads have ruined dream seasons many times before (see Clemson in 2016 and West Virginia in 2007).
UCLA Will Win the Sun Bowl If:
- Dorian Thompson-Robinson Does Dorian Thompson-Robinson Things: UCLA’s quarterback is one of the most dynamic players in college football, and he might have had an outside shot at a Heisman invite if he played for a team that had more than a few dozen fans in the stands each Saturday.
Still, every week he does something that we’ve never seen before, and while he’s still a bit mistake-prone, Pitt doesn’t seem like they have anyone on their team capable of stopping him.
Look for Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi to try to make this contest a slog so that DTR can’t use his full skillset, but we don’t think even Narduzzi will be able to keep him off his game for long.
Oh, and the forecast for Friday is 61°F and sunny, so Narduzzi won’t have the weather on his side, either.
- Chip Kelly has a Few Tricks Up His Sleeve: While UCLA coach Chip Kelly’s star has lost a bit of luster in recent years, he’s still considered an offensive genius — and his efforts in turning around the Bruins program are finally starting to bear fruit in year 5.
There’s a strong case to be made that Kelly should just call a simple, conservative game in this one and overwhelm Pitt with UCLA’s superior athleticism, but we feel that Kelly won’t be able to resist a wrinkle or two.
If even one of his surprises pays off, it could blow this game open in a hurry. There’s little chance Pitt can hang with UCLA for very long in a shootout, so even a single big play could swing the momentum in this one.
- Nothing Ridiculous Happens: If you examine the history of the Sun Bowl, this might be the most outlandish hypothetical of all. Crazy things just happen here — which is why this mid-tier game has such a devoted following among college faithful.
Still, UCLA seems to have the edge across the board, so as long as normalcy prevails (at least somewhat), this should set up to be a fairly easy game for the Bruins. Just play their brand of football and let their superior talent carry the day.
Do we think UCLA will win? Yes. Do we think that means nothing weird, inexplicable, or downright Sun Bowl-y will happen? Not on your life.
Pittsburgh Will Win the Sun Bowl If:
- We Get a Hollywood Ending: Pitt was guided all year long by the steady hand of USC transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis. Slovis was solid but not spectacular — and he’s in the transfer portal again, on his way to BYU.
In his place, Pitt will trot out Nick Patti, who has been the faithful backup for this team for several seasons. Patti got a shot at glory in Pitt’s bowl game last year, filling in for draft-bound Kenny Pickett, but that opportunity was cut short after he broke his collarbone two series into the Peach Bowl.
Patti was also on the Pitt squad that lost the heartbreaker to Stanford, so this is his second stint in the Sun Bowl.
Will the unsung Patti lift his team to glory in this one? We wouldn’t bet on it (literally), but it would sure make a heck of a story if he did.
- The Under Comes In: Like all Chip Kelly teams, UCLA is at its best in a high-scoring affair. Nothing could be further from the truth for a Pat Narduzzi-coached team, though, so a lower-scoring affair certainly favors Pitt here.
The o/u is already fairly low at 54, so if the Panthers can keep the total under that, they have an excellent chance of sneaking out of El Paso with the Sun Bowl trophy. If the game goes over, though, Pitt’s chances of winning likely plummet.
- Their Rushing Defense Comes to Play: While Pitt doesn’t really dazzle you in any one area, their rushing defense has been stingy this season, ranking them in the top 20.
That’s good news for Panthers fans; while Dorian Thompson-Robinson gets the lion’s share of the credit for UCLA’s high-flying offense, Bruins running back Zach Charbonnet is actually the nation’s leader in all-purpose yards. The Bruins often use Charbonnet to open up the field for a DTR highlight or three.
If Pitt can bottle up Charbonnet from the get-go, however, they may just have a chance to stifle UCLA in this one.
Best 2022 Sun Bowl Bets (Pittsburgh Panthers vs UCLA Bruins)
If you’re wanting to place a bet or two on the 2022 Sun Bowl, these odds stood out to us at BetOnline:
UCLA -7.5 Spread @ BetOnline (-110)
This is a lot of points to lay in any bowl game, especially one with a stout defense like Pitt’s. However, UCLA is clearly the better team in this one, and that was before Pitt lost valuable starters like Slovis and starting RB Israel Abanikanda.
Over 54 @ BetOnline (-110)
When UCLA wins, they tend to put up a lot of points, putting up at least 40 points in 8 of their 12 games this year. The only way we see the under coming in is if Pitt completely bottles up the high-powered Bruin attack, and we just don’t see that happening here.
Any Team to Score 40+ Points: Yes @ BetOnline (+224)
As shown above, when UCLA is the better team, they’re usually able to fill up the scoreboard. We wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them pick up an early lead and pile it on, especially as a demotivated Panthers squad begins to realize they can’t stand toe-to-toe with these Bruins.
Why Bet on the 2022 Sun Bowl?
Betting on the Sun Bowl might seem unnecessary — after all, it’s not like the game needs any help to be entertaining. However, bowl games like this are great opportunities to get down a bet or two for the following reasons.
- It’s fun and easy: Even the most thrilling bowl game can be improved by having a little action on it. In a game like this, where anything can (and probably will) happen, you’ll be setting yourself up for the possibility of an all-time gambling story.
- Lots of value here: Not many people follow these teams, and there won’t be nearly as many eyeballs on the Sun Bowl as the college football playoff games. That means there are some juicy lines here just waiting for a savvy punter to exploit them.
- It’s a great way to spend a lazy Friday: There’s not much happening on the last Friday of the year, so what better way to unwind than by laying on your couch, turning on a great game, and placing a bet or two while you watch? If there’s a better way to usher in 2023, we can’t think of it.
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Guide to Sun Bowl Betting
The 2022 Sun Bowl will showcase the #18 UCLA Bruins against the Pittsburgh Panthers. These two teams couldn’t be much different on paper, so the outcome will largely be determined by which team is better able to impose its will on the other.
Which Team is Favored to Win?
UCLA is favored to win by a 7.5 point spread, and that spread has been growing as the game moves closer. This is largely due to the fact that Pitt has suffered several high-profile opt-outs, so they won’t be at full strength against the Bruins.
Who Typically Plays in the Sun Bowl?
The Sun Bowl is typically a matchup between PAC-12 and ACC teams. There have been some exceptions over the years — Central Michigan played in the Sun Bowl last year — but it’s generally an ACC-PAC 12 contest.
Where is the Sun Bowl Played?
The Sun Bowl is played in Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas. It’s one of the most unique and beautiful settings in college football, and the leadup to the game is generally fun for fans and players alike, as it often features a trip across the border into Mexico as well as other festivities.
“Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl?” Really?
Kellogg’s is actually the sponsor of the game, but they chose to put the name of their cartoon Frosted Flakes mascot, Tony the Tiger, on the marquee over their own. It’s goofy, to be sure — but it fits right in with other bowl sponsorships like the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl, and the Wasabi Fenway Bowl.
Previously in college football & NFL:
- Michigan-Ohio State spread
- Utah vs USC betting odds
- Chiefs vs. Bengals betting odds
- Packers vs bears odds
- Saints vs Buccaneers
- TCU vs. Kansas St. betting odds
- Jaguars vs Jets
What Will Happen in the 2022 Sun Bowl?
The Sun Bowl is the type of football game that’s tailor-made for gamblers. It has no real impact on the 2022 college football season — and a win here won’t generate a lot of momentum for 2023 — but the game is usually weird enough that you can have a great time betting on it.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see UCLA win this one fairly easily, as they clearly seem to be the better team. Strange things happen in El Paso in December, though, so it also wouldn’t surprise us if something happened in this game that we’d never seen before.
Our advice? Take UCLA at BetOnline, lay the points — and sit back and enjoy one of the strangest and most entertaining bowl games you’re likely to see anywhere.
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