Foster Farms Bowl: Maryland vs Stanford


Teams: Maryland (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) vs. Stanford (7-5, 5-4 Pac 12)

Time: December 30th, 10:00 PM EST

Location: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, California


A battle of two 7-5 teams will grace Levi’s Stadium for the Foster Farms Bowl. Maryland finished a solid debut season in the Big Ten and will look to boost the conference’s fledgling reputation, while Stanford will look to rebound from a down year and gain momentum moving forward in the Pac 12.

Stanford had a mediocre year by recent standards, thanks to a difficult schedule in a talented conference. They were able to finish on a strong note, however, defeating California and then-No. 8 UCLA. David Shaw’s squad lost a handful of one score games to ranked opponents, but will look to use the momentum they picked up at the end of the season against the Terps.

Randy Edsall’s team finished the season moving in a different direction. After a tight win over Penn State, Maryland dropped two of three to finish the season, including a 41-38 loss to Rutgers. After a promising debut year in the Big Ten, a win over Stanford would only help the Terps gain respect, not only in the Big Ten, but nationally.

Maryland doesn’t offer a whole lot of explosion on the offensive end, finishing 88th in the country in points scored. CJ Brown leads the team from under center as the team’s top passer and top rushing threat. Brown completed 53 percent of his passes on the season for 13 touchdowns, while rushing for 569 yards and 7 touchdowns. Wes Brown (97 carries) and Brandon Ross (78 carries) see the majority of the time in the backfield for the Terps, combining for 726 yards and 9 touchdowns. Despite the loss to Rutgers, Ross finished the season on a high note, rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

The most explosive player on the Maryland offense, Stefon Diggs, will return for the Terps for the first time since lacerating his kidney against Penn State. Diggs still managed to lead the team with 52 catches for 654 yards and five touchdowns. His return, alongside Deon Long (49 catches) should give Maryland and CJ Brown a big boost.

The Maryland defense allowed 28.9 points per game on the season, just 84th in the country. The Terrapins had a rough time against top offenses like Wisconsin, West Virginia, Michigan State and Ohio State, while also allowing Rutgers and Iowa to put up big numbers as well. That’s not to say there isn’t talent on Maryland’s defense. Defensive back William Likely picked off six passes on the season, returning two for touchdowns. Joining Likely in the secondary, Sean Davis recorded 108 tackles on the season. Defensive lineman Andre Monroe has 24 career sacks, including 9.5 this season. In the middle of the defense, linebackers Cole Farrand and Yannick Ngakoue have been standouts. Farrand finished third in the Big Ten in tackles, averaging 9.2 tackles per game while Ngakoue recorded 13 tackles for loss.

Kicker Brad Craddock was the Lou Groza Award winner, nailing 18 of 19 field goals on the season, including a game-winner against Penn State.

Another veteran quarterback leads the way for the Cardinal. Kevin Hogan, a game manager in the true meaning of the phrase, completed 65.7 percent of his throws while tossing 17 touchdowns. Hogan can also move a little bit, scrambling for 245 yards and five touchdowns. Hogan will look to put up points for an offense that finished just 88th in the country, scoring 25.7 points per game. The unit is clicking at the right time as they put up 38 and 31 respectively in the last two weeks of the season. Hogan threw for 234 and two touchdowns against UCLA, proving that he can get it done against a big-time opponent.

The Cardinal have used a stable of running backs throughout the year with Remound Wright coming on strong as the season progressed. Wright has a team-high 552 yards and finished with eight touchdowns, six of which have come in the last two weeks. Kelsey Young (57 carries) and Barry Sanders (54 carries) have also contributed in the backfield this season. Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector will have to step up big time at wide receiver for Stanford due to the absence of Ty Montgomery (61 catches). Montgomery is Stanford’s do-it-all guy, leading the team in receiving and acting as a dynamic return man. Hogan’s favorite target will miss the bowl game with a shoulder injury. Cajuste (30 catches) and Rector, (23 catches) along with tight end Austin Hooper (35 catches) will have to step up big time to replace Montgomery’s production.

The defensive side of the ball is where Stanford strives, ranking second in the nation in scoring defense (16.0). The Cardinal also rank in the top-1o in total defense (5th) and passing defense (7th). The defense boasts two All-Pac 12 first teamers in defensive end Henry Anderson and defensive back Jordan Richards. Anderson finished with 14 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks on the season, making himself known in the backfield play after play. Richards finished with 76 tackles while picking off three passes and forcing three fumbles.

Linebacker AJ Tarpley joined the pair with Pac-12 honors, earning a second team selection. Tarpley finished with 77 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and an interception from his inside linebacker position. Another trio of defensive players were named honorable mention, including supremely talented Kevin Anderson who finished with 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Finally, Blake Martinez was the leading tackler for the unit with 96. Martinez added three interceptions and two fumbles forced as well.

This is certainly an enticing matchup as neither team is very explosive offensively. It could come down to the effect of two similar players. If Diggs can make the impact that Stanford would expect from Montgomery, Maryland has a shot to put some points on the board and win this one. However, I believe Stanford’s defense is too strong and Kevin Hogan will be able to do just enough game managing to get his team in position. I look for this one to be on the low-scoring end with the Big Ten newcomers dropping this one.

Prediction: Stanford 21 Maryland 10