Short-Handed Pittsburgh Looks to Upset Favored UCLA in Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Derek Blake pic
Derek Blake
NCAA Football Sports News


  • UCLA favored by 5.5 points over Pittsburgh in 2022 Sun Bowl
  • UCLA’s high powered offense averaged 39.6 points per game in 2022
  • Pittsburgh’s backup QB Nick Patti expected to start for Panthers

Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3) 
Friday December 30th at 2:00 EST

After posting an 8-4 regular season, Pittsburgh heads out to El Paso, TX as 5.5-point underdogs to play in the Sun Bowl against 18th ranked 9-3 UCLA. The Panthers will be missing several starters for the Sun Bowl clash, including starting QB Kedon Slovis and leading rusher Israel Abanikanda.

Pittsburgh enters their bowl game riding the coattails of a four-game winning streak featuring home wins over 20th ranked Syracuse and Duke alongside road victories over Virginia and Miami.

After starting the season 6-0, UCLA struggled over their final games with a 3-3 record. UCLA’s last three wins came against unranked teams, although they did defeat Pac-12 champ Utah 42-32 in the middle of the season.

The Sun Bowl visit represents UCLA’s first bowl since 2017, a long break for a storied college football program. Bruins average over 500 yards in total offense per game, good for 3rd best among BCS teams in 2022.

Both teams are missing key players due to departures via the transfer portal with Pittsburgh starting their backup QB, Nick Patti, after Slovis transferred to BYU after the regular season ended.

Pittsburgh vs. UCLA Betting Notes

Pittsburgh +5.5
53.5 Over/Under Point Total
Moneyline: Pittsburgh (+180), UCLA (-220)

Local PA Online Sports Betting outlets such as DraftKings and FanDuel have installed UCLA as a 5.5-point favorite going into the Sun Bowl clash. Pennsylvania sportsbooks place UCLA as the favorite due to the Panthers losing their starting QB and RB before the bowl game.

Although UCLA won nine games in 2022, they struggled against the spread with non-conference opponents, posting just one cover in their three non-conference games.

Pittsburgh also found difficulties in covering the spread this season, with just two covers in their seven games after victories in 2022. The Panthers also failed to cover the spread in both of their road games as underdogs.

With a 53.5-point total, the state’s top sportsbooks expect plenty of scoring, and if the Panthers’ backups at key positions can string a few drives together, then the Sun Bowl could see more than enough points to hit the over.

Both teams combined hit the over in total points 17 out of their 24 games this season, a ridiculous hit rate of 70.8% in 2022.


0-2 ATS as Road Underdog
2-5 ATS After a Win 
5-7 ATS in 2022
8-3-1 Hitting Over Total Points


2-1 ATS as Road Favorite
1-2 ATS against Non-Conference Opponent
6-6 ATS in 2022
9-3 Hitting the Over Total Points

Derek Blake is a freelance writer that has covered the expansion of legal sports betting in America and the regional casino business for several well-known industry websites. During his writing career, he has written profiles on dozens of athletes and focused on the collision of sports and politics.