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2016 Sun Bowl final score: Stanford's win over UNC was all about Mitch Trubisky, for better and worse

The Cardinal feasted on Mitch Trubisky in this game, until they didn’t.

Over the last few weeks, North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky has become the hottest NFL prospect. Our Dan Kader had Trubisky going No. 4 overall in his latest mock, ahead of Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. But on the postseason stage in the Sun Bowl, Trubisky both shined and struggled in the 35-33 loss to Stanford.

Trubisky’s day was a mixed bag for nearly 60 minutes. He went 23-of-39 with three turnovers.

His fumble caused by the umpire was humorous.

But this back-breaker of an interception was much less so during the fourth quarter of the game.

On the ensuing drive, Trubisky would get the Tar Heels into field goal range with his legs, but then get sacked back out of field goal range.

And then, on the game’s final drive, there’s absolutely no denying that Trubisky was downright electric. He marched the Heels 97 yards with just over 90 seconds left. Two borderline catches got UNC going.

But his receivers had drops at the most inopportune times.

And when Trubisky needed to, he pulled a play out of his bag of tricks to get the Heels in position to tie the game.

But Trubisky would be sacked on the two-point try, and Stanford prevailed. The mixed bag on the day will be talked about as we march toward the NFL Draft, and of course there’s the small fact that Trubisky hasn’t even formally declared yet. He absolutely could return to school, and there’s an argument that he should as only a one-year starter.

Maybe Stanford didn’t need running back Christian McCaffrey after all? Remember him? The Cardinal beat North Carolina without their star running back. In his place, Bryce Love rushed for 115 yards and showed that he’s more than capable of toting the mail.

Much was made about McCaffrey missing this game in order to prepare for the NFL Draft. People clutched pearls about the sanctity of the bowl system and the competitive integrity of a bunch of psuedo-exhibitions. All the while, not acknowledging the fact that running backs, more than any other position, have an already finite window of time with which to produce before they are discarded. They also neglect the fact that McCaffrey played much of the year injured. And they also ignored the fact that McCaffrey’s own teammates don’t care.

Either way, the draft ended up dominating the conversation before, during, and likely after the Sun Bowl, thanks to one player who didn’t take the field and another who did.