Pittsburgh vs. UCLA predictions: how we’re betting the Sun Bowl

Personnel issues loom large for Pitt vs. Bruins

Pitt vs. UCLA predictions
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) celebrates as he scores a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Pasadena, Calif. The Associated Press

It should be relatively easy to make Pittsburgh vs. UCLA predictions. 

The opt-out and transfer portal news for the Panthers is disastrous. Even though Pitt has won four straight, it can barely field a team for this postseason game.

Check out Jay Dieffenbach’s piece on the best sports betting sites.

Meanwhile, UCLA superstar quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is playing in the bowl game after some doubt, alongside Jake Bobo and Zach Charbonnet.

But laying over a touchdown in a bowl game is always scary. Can we trust UCLA to get across the number in a high-variance game script? 

How should bettors attack the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl? 

Pitt vs. UCLA odds

Spread: Pitt +7.5 (-110) vs. UCLA -7.5 (-110)

Moneyline: Pitt (+210) vs. UCLA (-275)

Total: Over 54 (-110) | Under 54 (-110)

Pittsburgh vs. UCLA predictions

UCLA -7.5 (-110) at BetMGM Sportsbook

With Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet likely to play, UCLA becomes a near-lock to win this game convincingly. Primarily because the Pitt roster has been stripped to the bone. 

At the time of writing, the following players have either opted out or hit the transfer portal:

  • QB Kedon Slovis
  • RB Israel Abanikanda
  • OT Gabe Houy
  • OT Carter Warren 
  • TE Kyi Wright
  • DT Calijah Kancey
  • DE Deslin Alexandre 
  • DE John Morgan III
  • LB SirVocea Dennis

That 10-person list includes nine starters, four captains, the starting quarterback (Slovis) and an All-American (Kancey). That’s brutal. 

Meanwhile, not a single UCLA player opted out or entered the portal. UCLA will have its full roster after a successful 9-3 season, and the Bruins will have the chance to destroy this shorthanded Pitt team. 

There was doubt surrounding Thompson-Robinson’s status, which was scary given his importance to Chip Kelly’s dual-threat scheme. However, Ben Bolch quoted Bill McGovern for the L.A. Times that UCLA is “looking forward to him playing in the game, and he’s excited about it, he’s been running around, he was throwing passes today and we’re excited to have him back out on the field again one more time.”

That quote leaves little doubt that UCLA will be motivated to win this bowl game. Meanwhile, the opt-outs and Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi’s 1-4 against the spread bowl record (per Bet Labs) make me question the Panthers’ will to win this game. 

The motivational and personnel factors alone make UCLA a wager. 

Tony the Tiger’s catchphrase is, “They’re great!” but this game won’t be. UCLA wins in a rout, and I’d play the Bruins up to a double-digit favorite. 

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