What at one point was pitched as a first round offensive talent matchup has now diminished to a center stage for UNC QB Mitch Trubisky with Christian McCaffrey’s withdrawal from the Sun Bowl.
McCaffrey's withdrawal has caused an uproar in the media and amongst former players, pundits and the like although his decision can be agreed with. A season of injuries and shoddy production from the QB position for Stanford may have diminished his grade in the long run and for McCaffrey to withdraw seems like a smart decision.
Same for Leonard Fournette who decided to do the do the same thing for LSU. Running back isn't a position where you go to the NFL and play for 10 years. It doesn't happen, windows are limited. Matt Forte and some other names are the total exceptions. Short career, limited time for a rookie to gain the right amount of money for his value.
Stanford struggle with having dynamic threats regardless because of the way they recruit and this will more than likely show up in this contest. As mentioned above, the QB situation for Stanford has been an issue.
Kevin Hogan departing proved to be a factor, Stanford couldn't originally handle. Ryan Burns replaced Hogan and his lackluster management of games and general inability to frighten defenses resulted in him being replaced. Keller Chryst though has proved his worth for Stanford.
Injuries, a surprising QB situation combined with Christian McCaffrey both (having a down year as well as successive knocks) proved difficult to overcome. Although Stanford's second half was back to the Stanford which many thought would contend.
Stanford's defense hasn't been tremendous which will whet the appetite of NFL Draft prospect, Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky has had a fabulous season and has given many defenses frets, although with the time between games and David Shaw devising a gameplan, expect Trubisky to not have everything his own way.
Stanford has heaps of motivation heading into this game, regardless of McCaffrey sitting out. Stanford has been notoriously solid in Bowl contests with the time to prepare and to heal up. This season hasn't been the rosiest and expects the Cardinal to want to finish on a high note. An underachieving side in a big setting, Stanford are the better-coached team and they should dominate this game.
This game loses a ton of allure with McCaffrey's omission. And also effects Stanford's chances. And by a lot. That being said, Stanford is the bigger, faster team and are very well educated. This is another opportunity for David Shaw to execute a gameplan and showcase his tactical nous. For your NCAAF Pick, take Stanford. Score line around 28-17 or 35-21.