Maryland Terrapins (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Stanford Cardinal (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Foster Farms Bowl
Date and Time: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 10:00PM EST
Where: Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, California
by Scott, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MARY +14/STAN -14
Over/Under Total: 48
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In the Foster Farms Bowl, the Maryland Terrapins will take on the Stanford Cardinal at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara. Stanford benefits from having a game close to home, with a long road trip for the 7-win Terrapins. Stanford has one of the better defenses in the nation, but an inconsistent offense and some agonizingly-close losses led to a deflating 7-5 season. For Maryland, a 7-5 season wasnt such a letdown, with this being their inaugural season in the Big Ten Conference.
Stanford played one of the toughest schedules in the country, facing 6 ranked teams. They only won their last one, beating 8th-ranked UCLA on the road. That gives them nice momentum heading into this game. They scored 31 against UCLA after having scored just 67 against the first 5 ranked teams they faced. And therein lies the problem with Stanford. While their defense is stellar, allowing the second-fewest points of any team in the country, the offense just fell short in 2014.
Maryland faced only two ranked teams in 2014, getting beaten soundly by both Ohio State and Michigan State. Their other losses came against West Virginia, Wisconsin, and in their last game to Rutgers. Their wins are made of victories over mid-level conference teams like Indiana, Iowa, Penn State, and Michigan, along with subpar non-conference opposition. They havent beaten what you would call a good team yet in 2014. Simply put, Stanford has played a higher caliber of opponent and illustrated success at a higher level.
Marylands offense is not terribly exciting, led by quarterback C.J. Brown, who is also the teams leading rusher. He has 13 touchdowns in the air and 7 more on the ground. If anything, the Maryland offense is a balanced unit and not overly-dependent on any one part of their game. WR Stefon Diggs will be back, which could be a big help. One thing that helps is a great kicker in Brad Craddock, who gives the Terps an NFL-caliber leg, which can really come through in a pinch.
Unlike Stanford, Maryland doesnt have the stellar defense to pick up the slack for a pedestrian offense. They gave up 52 to both Ohio State and Wisconsin, 40 to West Virginia, and 41 in their last game to Rutgers. With the Stanford defense so much better than what Maryland brings to the table, what can Maryland do to combat that? Theyre hoping that Stanfords offense doesnt hit any kind of stride, allowing them to hang in there with a chance to win late. And lets face it, it wouldnt be the first time the Cardinal offense didnt fire this season.
While not prolific, Stanford QB Kevin Hogan is an experienced and steady hand who is savvy and capable. He and wide receiver Ty Montgomery havent made the connection some thought they would this season, but there are some weapons on this side of the ball. Montgomery didnt play against UCLA and is questionable for this game with an injured shoulder, even with the extra time off. Devon Cajuste and Austin Hooper are solid aerial weapons, along with their 3-pronged ground game of Remound Wright, Kelsey Young, and Barry Sanders, who will need to be productive in this game.
Stanfords defense is truly remarkable, allowing an average of just 16 points per game–an amazing stat considering who they have faced. They are of equal menace against both the run and pass. Other than high-powered Oregon, no team has seen much success against this group. Arizona scored 26 and Utah scored 20 against Stanford. Other than that, youre looking at slim pickings, with teams barely getting on the scoreboard against the Cardinal.
As if Maryland didnt have enough going against them, the locale of this game clearly favors Stanford, just a short distance from Santa Clara, while Maryland is having to come all the way across the country, with Wisconsin being as west as theyve traveled all season. Of more concern is how the teams finished the season, with Stanford routing a really good home UCLA team in the underdog role. Meanwhile, a favored Terrapins team lost to Rutgers at home.
Maryland is a conference newcomer and eager to prove their worth. A 7-win season was a nice start, but a win over a respected west-coast team would be a nice way to show they are a legit Big Ten squad. For Stanford, playing in a bowl named after a chicken company is a letdown, following a run of 4 straight BCS Bowl games. A chance to go to 8-5 and end the season strongly will motivate a Stanford team, where some players may be auditioning for where they fit into next seasons mix with some changes likely impending. Its just really hard to give two touchdowns with this Cardinal offense against a respectable team like Maryland. Stanford will win, but I look for the Terrapins to stay within distance and cover the spread.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Maryland Terrapins plus 14 points.