Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, bottom, goes through a drill Tuesday Dec. 27, 2016, in El Paso, Texas. The team is preparing for Friday's Sun Bowl NCAA college football game against North Carolina. (Victor Calzada/El Paso Times via AP)
AP Photo
December 29, 2016

No. 16 Stanford (9-3, Pac-12) vs. North Carolina (8-4, ACC), 2 p.m. EST Friday (CBS), in El Paso, Texas

Line: Stanford by 3.

Series Record: 1-1. First meeting since 1998.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Stanford seeks sixth 10-win season in past 10 years without star running back Christian McCaffrey, who decided to skip Cardinal's school-record eighth straight bowl to focus on NFL career. Coach David Shaw can pass Bill Walsh as leader in bowl victories with fourth. North Carolina trying to end two-year bowl skid, including last year's loss to Baylor when Tar Heels gave up bowl-record 645 yards rushing.

KEY MATCHUP

Stanford RB Bryce Love, McCaffrey's replacement, faces UNC defense that ranked 113th nationally against run. With McCaffrey powering running game, Cardinal ranked 34th in country at 236 yards rushing per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Stanford: QB Keller Chryst took starting job midseason and improved late in year. He has nine touchdown passes with two interceptions. ... DE Solomon Thomas will play in his home state after leading Cardinal with seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss.

North Carolina: Junior QB Mitch Trubisky, considering declaring for NFL draft, has 28 touchdown passes with four interceptions, completed 69 percent of passes for 3,468 yards in first full season as starter.

FACTS & FIGURES

Ryan Switzer has ACC-record seven career punt return touchdowns in addition to being UNC's all-time leading receiver with 239 catches (91 grabs for 1,027 yards this season). ... Love rushed for 129 yards and touchdown against Notre Dame, starting in place of injured McCaffrey. ... North Carolina is 2-2 in Sun Bowl, including split with Texas in past two appearances (26-10 win in 1982 and 35-31 loss in 1994). ... Stanford is 2-1 in Sun Bowl, most recently losing to Oklahoma 31-27 in 2009.

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