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Pittsburgh vs UCLA Prediction, Odds and College Football Betting Picks for Sun Bowl

One of the longest-standing college football bowl games is set to write its next chapter on Friday afternoon. The 86th edition of the Sun Bowl will feature a matchup between the Pittsburgh Panthers and the UCLA Bruins. As if the long history that accompanies the game wasn’t enough reason to tune in, there will also be a handful of NFL Draft prospects playing in El Paso this year. The Pittsburgh vs UCLA odds and college football betting picks have dubbed the Pac-12 representative as the favorite.

The following game preview provides the college football betting odds, trends and FEI Index ratings before sharing our official Pittsburgh vs UCLA prediction for the Sun Bowl matchup.

Pittsburgh vs UCLA Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

Sun Bowl
Pittsburgh Panthers (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. UCLA Bruins (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)
Date: Friday, December 30, 2022
Time: 2 p.m. EST
Venue: Sun Bowl Stadium — El Paso, TX
Coverage: CBS

Pittsburgh came into the season with aspirations of being among the top teams in the ACC. Unfortunately, the Panthers struggled to find their footing early on. A home loss to Georgia Tech was arguably the low point of the season. It also marked the start of a brutal month of October in which Pitt lost three of four games. Pat Narduzzi’s team was able to rally down the stretch for four consecutive wins to become bowl-eligible. However, those victories largely came against lackluster opponents.

After surviving a non-conference scare from South Alabama, UCLA made its mark early on in Pac-12 play with impressive wins over Washington and Utah. Dreams of an undefeated season came to an end in late October when the Bruins lost to Oregon on the road. Chip Kelly’s group remained very much alive in the conference title picture until being upset by Arizona three weeks later. The Bruins ended the regular season by splitting their final two games against rivals USC and California.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson 2023 NFL Draft prospects to watch in college football bowl games Pittsburgh vs UCLA prediction odds college football betting picks Sun Bowl game predictions
Credit: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pittsburgh vs UCLA College Football Betting Picks and Odds

All college football betting odds for Pittsburgh vs UCLA can be found at BetOnline Sportsbook.

Moneyline: PITT: (+230) | UCLA: (-275)
Point Spread: PITT: +7.5 (-110) | UCLA: -7.5 (-110)
Total: 54 — Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)

College Football FEI Ratings

The following table shares the Fremeau Efficiency Index rankings for both teams involved in this Sun Bowl matchup. The purpose of the FEI ratings is to represent the per-possession scoring advantage that a team would be expected to have on a neutral field against an average opponent. The rankings for offense and defense are out of 131 total FBS-level teams.

Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) ratings are froFootball Outsiders

TeamOverall FEI (Rk)OFEI (Rk)DFEI (Rk)
Pittsburgh.24 (44)-.07 (70).57 (25)
UCLA.41 (27)1.39 (7)-.29 (81)
  • Panthers are 1-5 ATS in their last six games against teams with a winning record.
  • Nine of the Panthers’ last 11 non-conference games have gone OVER the total.
  • Panthers are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games when not ranked in the CFP/AP Top 25.
  • Bruins are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games against teams with a winning record.
  • The OVER is 9-1 in the Bruins’ last ten games against opponents that average less than 13.20 yards per point offensively.
  • Six of the Bruins’ last seven games following a straight up win have gone OVER the total.
  • The Panthers’ last three games against Pac-12 Conference opponents all stayed UNDER the total and featured an average combined score of just 23.3 points.

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Pittsburgh vs UCLA Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

The Sun Bowl has certainly seen as much line movement in the betting market as any bowl game being played this year. The first big adjustment was on the game total which has dropped nine points or more after opening in the 60s. The point spread has also experienced a major adjustment. After opening as a 3-point favorite, the Bruins are now laying a full touchdown.

As has been the case with many other college football bowl games, the line moves are directly attributable to player opt-outs (or lack thereof). Up until last week, it was widely assumed that UCLA would be without star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet. Coach Chip Kelly debunked those rumors a couple of days before Christmas, and the Pittsburgh vs UCLA odds have been moving in favor of the Bruins ever since.

While UCLA is poised to have close to a full roster on Friday, the same cannot be said of Pittsburgh. Backup QB Nick Patti is in line to start after Kedon Slovis left the program via the transfer portal. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that Israel Abanikanda has opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft. The star tailback led the ACC with over 1,400 rushing yards this season.

After underachieving as a unit during the regular season, the Panthers defense will be without a trio of starters in the bowl game. Linebacker SirVocea Dennis, end Deslin Alexandre and safety Brandon Hill all opted out after electing to turn pro next year. A matchup against the eighth-ranked scoring offense in the country is hardly the ideal time to be shorthanded.

Despite having already moved several points, backing UCLA with our college football betting picks remains the most attractive option. Although Pitt’s defense is tough against the run, slowing down a Bruins’ rushing attack that averaged 248.8 yards per game is a much tougher task than most of what the Panthers dealt with in the ACC this year. Thompson-Robinson will also have close to a full complement of pass-catchers with Jake Bobo electing to play in the bowl game.

UCLA COVERS will be our official college football betting Pittsburgh vs UCLA prediction for the Sun Bowl.

For what it’s worth, the ESPN Matchup Predictor gives UCLA a 54.2% chance to win this game outright.

Bet: UCLA -7.5 (-110 at BetOnline Sportsbook)

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