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Home | Tag Archives: UNC

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Gallery+Story: Stanford Stops UNC 25-23 in Thrilling Sun Bowl

It took almost every second of the 60 minutes played to determine the winner of the 83rd Hyundai Sun Bowl as two storied universities, Stanford and North Carolina, fought down to the wire before the 16th-ranked Cardinal eventually prevailed 25-23 over the Tar Heels in front of 42,166 fans.

UNC (8-5) trailed by eight with 1:34 left in the game and had to drive 97 yards to try and tie the game after a Stanford (10-3) punt pinned them at the 3-yard line.

Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky showed why he is considered one of the top quarterback prospects for the NFL, bouncing back from three previous turnovers to lead UNC down the field on that final drive.

Trubisky began the drive with a 13-yard completion to All-ACC first teamer Ryan Switzer.  The big pass play came a few plays later after Trubisky hit his big 6-5 target Bug Howard down the sideline for a 44-yard completion that took the ball from the UNC 28-yard line to the Stanford 28-yard line.

Once again it was Switzer and Howard that would wrap up the drive as a 27-yard completion to Switzer placed the ball at the 1-yard line with just over 30 seconds remaining.  After a run that lost a yard and an incomplete pass, Trubisky seemed to be in trouble on third down but somehow escaped, scrambled and eventually found Howard in the end zone with 25 seconds left to get within a two-point conversion of tying the game.

But the biggest name on the Cardinal defense came up big during the two-point conversion as defensive end and eventual C.M. Hendricks MVP award winner Solomon Thomas sliced through the Tar Heel offensive line and got to Trubisky before he had a chance to get a pass off.  A failed onside kick would close UNC’s chances and give Stanford its third Sun Bowl victory and first in 20 years.

The future NFL prospect Thomas finished with seven tackles, two for losses, a sack and the biggest play of the game.  He is the first defensive player to win the Sun Bowl MVP since UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was named Co-MVP in 2013 and the first defensive lineman to win the award since Oregon State’s Victor Butler won the award in 2008.

Trubisky finished 23-of-39 for 280 yards but had three costly turnovers including two interceptions and a fumble.  On the Stanford side, senior quarterback Ryan Burns relieved starter Keller Chryst after he got injured in the first quarter.  Burns finished 6-of-12 for 86 yards.  Leading the charge for the Cardinal was running back Bryce Love, who was playing in place of Stanford’s All-American Christian McCaffrey.  Love finished with 119 yards on the ground on 21 carries including a career-high 59-yard romp.  He also caught a 49-yard touchdown pass.

The Tar Heels would take an early 7-0 lead, only to see the Cardinal mark 16-straight points, mainly off the leg of place kicker Conrad Ukropina who tied a Sun Bowl record with four field goals in the game en route to being named the John Folmer Most Valuable Special Teams Player.

The Tar Heels struck first to open the scoring.  After holding the Cardinal to a three-and-out on their first possession, Trubisky led UNC on a 10-play, 71-yard drive that culminated with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to Switzer.  The touchdown connection was Trubisky’s 29th passing touchdown of the season, a new school record.

The rest of the first-half scoring, however, belonged to the team from the Pac-12 as Stanford would rally for the final 13 points of the first stanza.  The Cardinal immediately evened the score following the Tar Heel touchdown drive with a quick touchdown drive of their own.

The drive, which only took six plays and less than three minutes, culminated with a 49-yard touchdown pass Chryst to Love. Love’s first touchdown reception of the season knotted the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.

Stanford then had an eventful third possession that started around midfield after a UNC three-and-out.  After an early personal foul flag for a late hit against the Tar Heels, the Cardinal seemed to have their second-straight touchdown after Chryst hit JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the corner of the end zone for an apparent 27-yard score.  The called was looked at and after further review it was determined that the ball hit the ground before the catch, thus negating the score.

On the next play from scrimmage, Chryst ran down the field on a quarterback keeper, but did not get up after the tackle.  He had to be helped off the field with an apparent knee injury and would not return to the game.  Burns, who started the first seven games of the season for Stanford, would play the rest of the game.

Burns gained positive yardage on his first play from scrimmage, but a delay of game penalty and a sack would stall the drive.  The Cardinal would have to settle for a Ukropina 44-yard field goal a few plays into the second quarter that would give them their first lead of the game.

On UNC’s following possession, Trubisky would have his first turnover as Stanford’s Dallas Lloyd intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards to the Tar Heel 35-yard line.  However, the Cardinal could not move the ball and came away empty after Ukropina missed on a 36-yard attempt that hit the left upright.

Ukropina would redeem himself, however, after Trubisky fumbled the ball after apparently running into an official with under two minutes left in the half.  Ukropina nailed a 33-yarder, his school record 20th of the season, as Stanford led 13-7 at the half.

UNC kicker Nick Weiler tried to cut into the Cardinal lead during the first possession of the second half, but his 51-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.  The middle portion of the third quarter saw the teams add a field goal to their score as Ukropina hit a 43-yard field goal and Weiler redeemed himself with a 37-yarder.

Down six, the Tar Heels turned to senior running back T. J. Logan to help them regain the lead.  Logan’s running led a 9-play, 68-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by freshman Jordan Brown, his first career touchdown.  UNC regained the lead 17-16 with just over two minutes left in the third.

Lloyd once again came up big for Stanford a couple of plays into the fourth quarter as the senior safety once again intercepted a Trubisky pass, this time running it back 19 yards for a pick-six that once again gave the Cardinal the lead, this time at 22-17 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

Ukropina’s record-tying fourth field goal with 3:23 left gave Stanford a 25-17 lead that set up the game’s final dramatic moments.

Stanford has now won its last three bowl games and finishes the season on a six-game winning streak.  The Tar Heels, on the other hand, finish the season losing two of three and have lost three-straight bowl games.

Gallery by Herald Post Chief Photographer Andres Acosta

Story in Many Pics: Sun Bowl Pep Rally, Luncheon and Fan Fiesta

Just 24 hours away from the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl and both UNC and Stanford staff and team members attended the luncheon held at the convention center in downtown El Paso.

All involved then returned for the popular Fan Fiesta, as the bands played for the fans, while the fans got a taste of the hospitality here in the Sun City.

Check out all the action thanks to Andres Acosta.

Stanford Cheerleaders performing infront of of the Judson F Williams Convention Center, El Paso Texas
Stanford Cheerleaders performing infront of of the Judson F Williams Convention Center, El Paso Texas
Hyundai Sun Bowl Fan Fiesta , held the Judson F Williams Convention Center, El Paso Texas
Hyundai Sun Bowl Fan Fiesta , held the Judson F Williams Convention Center, El Paso Texas

 

 

Stanford, UNC Coaches talk Sun Bowl Preps

The Hyundai Sun Bowl media relations staff held a press conference with North Carolina Head Coach Larry Fedora and Stanford Head Coach David Shaw on Thursday, Dec. 29 at the El Paso Convention Center.   Below is a transcript of the question and answer session.

Stanford head coach David Shaw

Opening remarks: The week has been phenomenal. We tried to tell the guys before we got here – I was here with the team in 2009 – about the hospitality and you guys have not disappointed. Phenomenal people, phenomenal area. I loved spending time with the troops and seeing all the troops work in the community and on base. It’s been a great experience. Facilities have been great practice has gone really well just excited to be here really grateful for all the people who are associated with the bowl game.

Q: Coach you’ve played for a number of Rose Bowls and College Football Playoff does it take any added incentives to get these guys going for this game?

A: No, we concentrate on us and on what’s in front of us. Appreciate our senior leadership, we don’t have a big senior class but that senior leadership has been outstanding the entire year. We focus on what we’re doing right now and what we have next and our practices have been that way. We had a really rough spot in the middle of the year and those seniors really helped us have the best practices of the year, when we weren’t playing well, we were unranked and people were jumping off the bandwagon, we were going back to work. That’s continued here we aren’t worried about anything except what’s in front of us so I appreciate our senior leadership.

Q: UNC can score a lot of points, what’s the plan to slow them down?

A: Well their head coach is in the back somewhere so I can’t tell you everything. The bottom the line for us is to play sound smart defense. You got a phenomenal quarterback that can make all the throws, an outstanding receiving corps that can move the ball quickly down the field and light up the score board. For us, we’ve had a good maturation process throughout the year on our defense. We had a lot of young guys that have played and have gotten a lot of experience playing a lot better towards the end of the year. Big thing they learned is, you can’t take a play off, we’re playing against a great offense in particular and a great football player playing quarterback, you can’t take a play-off we try to defend from the back forward, try not to give up big plays and play smart, sound football

Q: They have one of the best kick-off return teams in the country, the best punt cover team in the country. Can you talk about the special team match up and what you’re going to do?

A: I’m a coach’s kid, been around this game my entire life and so many people don’t talk about special teams and special teams helps you win football games. It’s a game of field position. It’s a game of acclimating yardage and special teams is the biggest way to do that on any given play, so we take it very seriously. I have a lot of appreciation for their returner, I think he’s phenomenal. I think with all great returners it first starts with instinct and then comes to ability and that ability, the instinct, of when to know when to hit it and when to let those blocks manifest themselves before you get to full speed is an impressive thing to watch. Ima a big punt return fan and a fan of how they do it at North Carolina. As for us, and the return game goes, we got a good plan, one thing is to be smart about what we do and how we do it. But we also hope to put a returner that will give us positive yardage.

Q: Considering the fact that you don’t have Christian McCafferey and UNC doesn’t have Elijah Hood and with 42 bowls, why should the general sports fan tune into this particular game?

A: you have two talented football teams, two well coached football teams, two teams who play the game the right way, physically and tough they play it aggressively. With out those two runners, you have a lot of exciting players to watch in the game. They have one of the better quarterbacks in the nation, one of the more citing returns and young exciting players for the future in Bryce Love. I think that’s an exciting thing to watch.

Q: What do you think of Nick Saban’s comments that the CFB Playoff has sort of diminished the importance of other bowl games?

A: I completely understand what he’s saying and in part I agree with the premise of what he’s saying. I think, the media starts talking about the playoff before training camp. It’s not even the bowl games necessarily about college football. I grew up with this but I love college football if I wasn’t coaching, I’d be watching all the bowl games like I have all my life because I love it. It’s exciting it’s fun. It’s a big part of this time of the year. So, that’s why I agree with the premise which is that they playoff has now focused on just the playoff as opposed to how great college football is. I think college football is in the best shape it’s ever been, that’s why it’s so exciting, that’s why the ratings are through the roof through the entire year. Once the novelty of the playoff wears off, we’ll get back to where we should be which is appreciating every single week of the college football season and every single bowl game. So I understand where we are right now but I don’t believe it will stay that way. Once we all get used to the way things go we’ll be back to people who just love college football.

Q: do you see any parallels between this game and the last Sun Bowl that you were here with Andrew Luck out?

A: not necessarily, particularly from the Stanford standpoint, we were still growing as a program, that was the first bowl game in eight or nine years, as opposed to the two programs coming now, with good recent history with both teams, relatively established and are good programs in their own right at the moment. So the bowl games then were a novelty and we were just getting there and that is what I think that is the difference for me.

Q: What allowed you to successfully recruit Bryce Love out of North Carolina when it came down to his decision?

A: For us it starts with the individual, it started with Bryce and what he was looking for. I’m not a recruiter I’m just a guy that finds young guys that are looking for what we have. Once we got to know Bryce and his family and what they wanted for him, we showed them what Stanford has to offer both on and off the field. It was appealing to him and that was how the process begins and continued. It was a long distance and we helped him feel like he was at home. That’s the great thing about Stanford, you just don’t have people from America, you have people from around the world, but they make you feel at home and help you be successful both academically and whatever you are pursuits are outside of academics.

Q: Will Christian be here and is there any sentiment if the locker room that he quit on them?

A: He will not be here. And absolutely not. First and foremost what gets undersold because Christian hasn’t spoken publicly. This was hard for Christian, this wasn’t a flip just off the cuff, it was really really difficult because he loves those guys in the locker room, doesn’t like them he loves them and would do anything in the world for them. This was really real really hard. Just a tough decision he had to make and we completely understand and we put our arms around him and said absolutely. We love you and we understand it. I had long conversation with Christian during this process to where the last thing Christian wants to be is a distraction and after a good conversation, we came to the conclusion that it was probably best not to come so that the focus of the game could be on the guys that were playing the game and not Christian. We love him he loves us and he didn’t abandon this football team and he made a difficult decision with the team’s best interest. And we support and respect that. We look forward to him playing on Sundays because I think he will be outstanding.

Q: Three weeks ago, he practiced on a Friday then that following Monday he said he wasn’t playing, what changed during the course of that weekend?

A: it was in process, there were multiple discussions this was not a wake up one morning and not going to play, this was a painstaking – and I don’t want to speak for Christian, he’ll speak at some point – but this was a pain staking process for him. Which I’m grateful for him and his family that we communicated and had great communication during the process so nothing changed in that span.

University of North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora

On experience during bowl week…

“We’ve had a wonderful experience here. For me, being a native Texan I was extremely excited about bringing our team to the state of Texas and letting them experience everything that El Paso has to offer. From all of the activities, the Sun Bowl has done a tremendous job. This is my second time at the bowl and the thing that I do remember is the hospitality. This is a unique bowl. The whole community embraces this bowl and does such a great job with the teams that are here. Our players have just enjoyed all of the experiences. It’s been phenomenal and we’re looking forward to playing the game now.”

On special teams providing an advantage for UNC…

“We pride ourselves on special teams. One of the biggest things we talk about when it comes to special teams is we need a game-changing play. In studying Stanford, you can tell they spend a lot of time with their return teams and their coverage teams. We hope that we can create a game-changing play and we do spend quite a bit of time on it. We feel like we’ve got good return teams and good coverage teams. We think that special teams will play a major factor in this game.

On trying to stop Stanford’s running attack…

“I don’t know how confident I am (about stopping Stanford’s rushing game). But I do know that’s going to be a major factor in this game. Stanford is a physical football team that runs the ball and bring it down hill at you. Our guys know that we’re going to have to limit the run. I don’t think we’re walking into this game and saying that we’re going to stop the run because I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think anyone can stop the run against Stanford but we’ve got to limit the run. We can’t let them stay on the field the entire game just running the ball for five yards a carry.”

On the impact of football culture in Texas…

“Unless you spend a lot of time in this state, it’s really hard to understand the magnitude of high school football in this state. Growing up here you didn’t think it was a big deal because that’s just the way it was. You didn’t know anything different. Until I got to college coaching, that’s when I realized that a lot emphasis is put on football in Texas. If you look at the stadiums and the money that’s poured into it, it’s what some of these communities are built around.”

On Elijah Hood’s injury status…

“I can tell you that Elijah (Hood) is not here. We decided it was going to be best for him to stay back to get healthy. As far as what those conditions are, I don’t really ever talk about those things.”

On team’s health…

“Everybody else is ready to go. We’ve got some bumps and bruises but we’ve got some guys that are going to play and that are ready to go.”

On previously recruiting Stanford running back Bryce Love…

“We recruited Bryce (Love) very hard. Bryce is a very bright young man and has a great family. We spent a lot of time recruiting him. It was one of those things where it came down to us and Stanford and he chose Stanford. I didn’t know I would ever play against him and unfortunately we do but we’re looking forward to it.”

***

The 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl game will be played Friday, Dec. 30, at 12 p.m. MT (2 p.m. ET) at Sun Bowl Stadium with No. 16 Stanford taking on North Carolina.

The 2016 game will mark the 83rd anniversary of the Sun Bowl game and the 49th consecutive broadcast on CBS.

Story in Many Pics: UNC, Stanford Players Visit the El Paso Children’s Hospital

Players from the Tar Heels and the Cardinal left their respective practice fields Wednesday to make a special stop at El Paso’s Children’s Hospital.

Patients and their parents interacted with the Sun Bowl participants and the entire visit was captured by our very own Andres Acosta. Check out the photos via today’s Story in Many Pics.

UNC visits the El Paso Childrens hospital,
UNC visits the El Paso Childrens hospital,
Stanford visits Providence Childrens Hospital, El Paso Texas
Stanford visits Providence Childrens Hospital, El Paso Texas

Story in Many Pics: UNC, Stanford visit Fort Bliss

It was team day with the troops at Fort Bliss. The Tar Heel and Cardinal football teams made a trip to Fort Bliss Tuesday afternoon to tour the base and interact with the troops.

Andres Acosta was at the post as well, and brings you his view of the visit via this gallery.

Press Conference room for the Hyundai Sun Bowl
Press Conference room for the Hyundai Sun Bowl
North Carolina's Day with the Troops, Fort Bliss Texas.
North Carolina’s Day with the Troops, Fort Bliss Texas.

Gallery: Stanford takes to Practice Field ahead of Friday’s 83rd Annual Sun Bowl

With both teams, staff and fans already in town for the annual football classic, the Stanford Cardinal got down to business Tuesday at Eastwood’s Trooper Stadium. Andres Acosta was there too, and brings you this gallery of photos from the practice.

Stanford Cardinal practice for the Hyundai Sun Bowl, Eastwood High School.
Stanford Cardinal practice for the Hyundai Sun Bowl, Eastwood High School.
Stanford Cardinal practice for the Hyundai Sun Bowl, Eastwood High School.
Stanford Cardinal practice for the Hyundai Sun Bowl, Eastwood High School.

 

Story in Many Pics: Stanford Returns to the Sun Bowl

Stanford, no strangers to the Sun City, arrived Monday ahead of Friday’s match up with UNC in the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl.  Surrounded by dancers and mariachis, the players donned hats and danced as teammates encouraged it all.

Our very own Andres Acosta was there, and while its unknown if he danced, he did take a bunch of pictures that we share with you now via today’s ‘Story in Many Pics’

Stanford Cardinal players arrive in El Paso for the 83rd Hyundai Sun Bowl
Stanford Cardinal players arrive in El Paso for the 83rd Hyundai Sun Bowl

Story in Many Pics: Tar Heels Touchdown for Sun Bowl

With the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl set for this Friday, the University of North Carolina arrived Sunday.  Our very own Andres Acosta was there and brings your all the fun via this Story in Many Pics.

Video+Story: Horizon High Band Selected to Represent Stanford in 83rd Annual Sun Bowl

By this time in the school year, except for a few fortunate schools playing for the Texas State High School Football Championships, the marching band’s season is long over.

Fields and grandstands are empty, marching instruments are stored, uniforms are pressed and musicians are three pieces deep into music for the upcoming Christmas concerts. But for Clint ISD’s Horizon High Scorpion Marching Band a huge stage beckons: The 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl Game.

Amidst all the pomp and circumstance of the college bowl game season, selection Sunday and the announcement of the matchup between Stanford and the University of North Carolina,  Horizon High’s band was selected to be the ‘stand in’ band for the Stanford Marching Band.

Stanford’s performances are well known, as is their reputation for being one of the more rowdy bands in the NCAA; so much so that the university suspended all band activities though the end of the 2017 Spring semester.

Against this unfortunate backdrop, officials with the Sun Bowl and Stanford looked to make the best of the situation, and began searching for a local band to represent their school in the December 30th game and during all the pregame activities.  Organizers looked to the bands in the region, hoping to find one that fit with their school’s marching tradition of “irreverence and exuberance.”

According to Horizon High Principal Elena Acosta, the notification about the band’s selection came via a text from ‘out of nowhere.’

“We were mentioned to someone in the Sun Bowl Association – our kids reputation as being a top band in the area – and how well they had done this year,” Acosta said.

That success was a long time coming for the band, which at one point only had 44 members on the field.  Band Director Raul Candelaria spent the last six years developing the band into one of the region’s premiere programs. Since taking the helm, Candelaria has seen the band grow in numbers, talent and achievement.

Nearly 180 members strong, the Horizon Band has been on a streak, receiving ‘Division 1’ ratings in each of the competitions held this year – culminating in a first-ever finals appearance at New Mexico State University’s Tournament of Bands, where they finished 9th out of the 30DSC_0875 regional bands in attendance; earning them a banner – yet another first for the band.

But it was the band’s precision and energy that got them noticed, then selected for the Sun Bowl honor. Oddly enough, it was a game that was almost cancelled and countless YouTube videos that sealed the deal.

Tommy Gray, Associate Athletic Director for External Relations at Stanford says reached out to the Sun Bowl for help.  Local Sun Bowl officials were happy to oblige, compiling a list recommended bands and escorting school officials from school to school, searching for the best fit.

Earlier this year, one of those Sun Bowl officials made the trek to the High Desert to watch Hanks take on Horizon for the final game of the season. During pregame, that official watched as the drumline rehearsed nearly non-stop prior to the game; he admired their talent and work ethic, and looked forward to seeing them in action later that night.

Unfortunately, the performance never took place as a severe storm moved through the area, forcing the band – during senior night – into the safety of the band hall.  But the warm up stuck with the representative, and Horizon’s name was passed along to the Stanford officials.

A few weeks and several Horizon High Band YouTube videos later, those same Stanford and Sun Bowl officials met with Principal Acosta and decided the band was the right fit for the job.

DSC_0908“Just watching those YouTube videos of the kids playing music in the stands, having fun, hyping the crowd and their performances during the halftime shows and competitions,” Gray shares, “pretty much sealed the deal.”

Gray adds that the band’s tasks will include playing Stanford’s alma mater, fight song and other stand tunes, as well as “just representing the Cardinal with the same energy and fun like the do with their team every week.”

Assistant Band Director Carl Ortega was the first to find out about the good news, as Candelaria was out of town on his honeymoon.

“I was in the middle of testing when Principal Acosta called me in and I’m like ‘Oh-oh,” Ortega shares, “And she says she’s been in contact with officials with the Sun Bowl and Stanford and she told me the good news…I was floored.”

Ortega rushed back to class, sharing the news with the students who reacted with screams of joy.  Once he was back in town, Candelaria got the band back on track for marching and stand tunes, fitting it in with rehearsals for the upcoming Christmas shows.

“I didn’t believe it, at first,” Candelaria said, “but it’s now just a matter of juggling this performance, along with solo and ensemble and area competition and getting them used to marching once again…it’s all a challenge…but it’s fun.”

Drum Major and Clarinet Section Leader Hitlief Lara believes the band’s combination of discipline and fun solidified their selection as Stanford’s stand in.

DSC_0967“I’m really excited and really proud that we’ve been recognized for all our hard work,” Lara says, “and I really think that our marching show set us apart from other bands.”

Lara adds that the pride of having others recognize their hard work makes the experience that much better.

“I’m really thankful for this opportunity, I’m a proud Drum Major to know my band has been selected for this…it’s just beyond fun.”

Alondra Martinez, Mellophone Section Leader for the band, sums it up for her fellow bandmates.

“I was really stunned – at first – that a university like Stanford would choose us to be part of the game,” Martinez says through a mile-wide smile, “but it’s really nice experience and I’m really glad that our band has this opportunity to demonstrate the results of our hard work all season.”

The 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl game will be played Friday, Dec. 30, at 12 p.m. MT at Sun Bowl Stadium. The 2016 game will mark the 83rd anniversary of the Sun Bowl game and the 49th consecutive broadcast on CBS. Tickets are available by calling the Sun Bowl Association office at 915-533-4416.

Preview: For UNC, Sun Bowl Win Would Cap Historic Season

Led by standout quarterback Mitch Trubisky and his arsenal of offensive play makers headlined by wide out Ryan Switzer, the University of North Carolina will try to pick up a statement win against No. 16 Stanford in the 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Trubisky, one of the nation’s most efficient passers and, who at one point during the season, was named the No. 1 quarterback in the 2017 NFL draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, will look to cap off an already historic season with a win over the 9-3 Cardinal. The 8-4 Tar Heels quarterback will have some help from first-team All ACC play maker Switzer, who finished the season with 91 grabs for 1,027 yards and five touchdowns.

The Hyundai Sun Bowl, featuring the East coast vs. West coast matchup, is scheduled for a noon (MST) kickoff on Dec. 30 at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso.

“We’re excited to represent the University of North Carolina and the Atlantic Coast Conference in the Sun Bowl, a game with so much history going back more than 80 years,” said UNC head coach Larry Fedora. “Our team is looking forward to a terrific experience in El Paso with the opportunity to finish the season with positive momentum. Stanford consistently competes for the PAC-12 championship and this will be a tremendous challenge for our team.”

Fedora enters the game having made a bowl appearance in eight of his last nine seasons. This will be the 33rd all-time bowl game for the Heels, who are 2-2 in Sun Bowl history. Their last appearance in the bowl was 1994, where they were handed a 35-31 loss by Texas.

UNC is entering the contest coming off a one score loss to North Carolina State, 28-21. Carolina has been up and down this season, racking up two-to-three wins at a time in between losses. The season was highlighted with ACC wins over Florida State (37-35), Miami (20-13) and Pittsburgh (37-36).

Fedora said of the season and the team’s latest loss, “We weren’t able to overcome all the emotions we created for ourselves. There were a few games down the stretch that we didn’t play up to our capability. We didn’t make the ordinary plays that we needed to make, and it wasn’t anything that we had to do out of the ordinary, we just couldn’t make the ordinary plays; we didn’t do that for whatever reason so I can tell you that the state of mind for this football team”

Trubisky and company run a pass heavy offense, ranking 22nd in the country in passing offense with a 294 yards per game average. A key to their success through the air has been the quarterback’s accuracy with the ball, throwing 28 touchdowns to only four interceptions to go along with his 3,468 yards.

Behind center, Trubisky set single-season records for UNC in both yardage and touchdowns. The team ranks ninth in the nation in passing efficiency, recording a 159.76 rating. Individually, the slinger ranks in the top 15 in the nation in passing yards, touchdowns, efficiency and yards per game.

In the ground game, UNC’s Elijah Hood leads with a team-high 858 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season. Also a threat in the pass-attack, Hood caught 25 passes for 142 yards.

On defense the Tar Heels are led by Nazir Jones, recording a team-high 7.5 tackles for a loss and 62 total tackles on the year. Emerging as a veteran leader amongst a young defense, Nazir announced Friday that he will be entering the 2017 NFL draft.

“He has overcome great physical adversity and improved tremendously since he came into the program in 2013.  This season he was the leader of our defensive line and someone everyone on the team respected. I believe he has a bright future in professional football if he continues to work hard and focus on being the best he can be,” Fedora said.

Other defensive standouts include defensive end Malik Carney and linebacker Andre Smith. Smith led the team with 110 tackles while Carney was the team’s best pass rusher, recording 4.5 sacks.

As a team, UNC ranked No. 14 in the nation in pass defense, allowing only 183 yards per game. On the opposite side of the ball, the Tar Heels allowed 235 rush yards per game and 28 rushing touchdowns.

Tickets for the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl are on sale through Ticketmaster and the Sun Bowl Association office. The 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl is set for Friday, Dec. 30 in Sun Bowl Stadium with kick-off scheduled for noon.

Tickets for the game can be purchased online through the link available at www.sunbowl.org. Customers can call the Sun Bowl Association office (915-533-4416) and are also invited to stop by the Sun Bowl Association office that is located at 4150 Pinnacle Street (Suite 100) in El Paso to purchase tickets.

Story+Gallery: It’s On! Stanford University to Battle University of North Carolina for 83rd Hyundai Sun Bowl

The Sun Bowl Association and Hyundai of El Paso have announced that Stanford University will take on the University of North Carolina in the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl, Friday, Dec. 30 at noon in Sun Bowl Stadium.

Stanford enters the game 9-3 on the year, while winning its last five games.  The Tar Heels head to El Paso with an 8-4 record. The Cardinal is 2-1 all time in the Hyundai Sun Bowl, while UNC will make its fifth appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl carrying a 2-2 record in the second oldest bowl game.

“It’s hard to ask for a better matchup,” Executive Director of the Sun Bowl Association Bernie Olivas said.  “Both teams have great records and exceptional players. We are truly excited to bring these teams to El Paso and show them a great time.  We are also excited for our fans as they will get to watch an extraordinary match-up with plenty of future pro players.”

North Carolina’s offense has seen success with first-year starting quarterback, junior Mitch Trubisky.  Trubisky has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions this season. He finished the regular season second in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) in passing, behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.

“We’re excited to represent the University of North Carolina and the Atlantic Coast Conference in the Sun Bowl, a game with so much history going back more than 80 years,” mentioned head coach Larry Fedora. “Our team is looking forward to a terrific experience in El Paso with the opportunity to finish the season with positive momentum. Stanford consistently competes for the Pac-12 championship and this will be a tremendous challenge for our team.”

Stanford heads to El Paso making a school-record eighth consecutive postseason football bowl game. This will also mark the 28th bowl appearance for the Cardinal in school history and last played in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in 2009.  Joining the Cardinal will be running back Christian McCaffrey, who finished second in the Heisman voting after the 2015 season.

Tickets for the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl are on sale through Ticketmaster and the Sun Bowl Association office. The 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl is set for Friday, Dec. 30 in Sun Bowl Stadium with kick-off scheduled for noon.

Tickets for the game can be purchased online through the link available at www.sunbowl.org. Customers can call the Sun Bowl Association office (915-533-4416) and are also invited to stop by the Sun Bowl Association office that is located at 4150 Pinnacle Street, Suite 100 in El Paso to purchase tickets.

Appearances in Sun Bowl

North Carolina (2-2)

Win vs. Texas Tech, 32-28 (Dec. 30, 1972)

Loss vs. Mississippi State, 26-24 (Dec. 28, 1974)

Win vs. Texas, 26-10 (Dec. 25, 1982)

Loss vs. Texas, 35-31 (Dec. 30, 1994)

Stanford (2-1)

Win vs. Louisiana State, 24-14 (Dec. 31, 1977)

Win vs. Michigan State, 38-0 (Dec. 31, 1996)

Loss vs. Oklahoma, 31-27 (Dec. 31, 2009)

Gallery by Andres Acosta

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