Foster Farms Bowl Preview: Maryland Vs. Stanford


Nov 1, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Maryland Terrapins wide receiver Stefon Diggs (1) returns a kickoff against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) and Stanford Cardinal (7-5, 5-4 Pac 12)

The Time: 10 p.m.

The Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.

The Coaches: Randy Edsall (4th year, 20-29 at Maryland) and David Shaw (4th year, 41-12 at Stanford)

History of the Foster Farms Bowl: While this is the first year under the mantra of the Foster Farms Bowl, this particular bowl was been in existence since 2002. In the past, it was known as the San Francisco Bowl (2002-2003), Emerald Bowl (2004-2009), Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (2010-2012), and the Fight Hunger Bowl (2013). Big-time programs like Florida State, USC, Virginia Tech, and Washington have played in the bowl in the past. Tennessee Titans running back rushed for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns to earn offensive MVP honors for the Huskies.

Maryland actually played in this bowl game back in 2007 when it was known as the Emerald Bowl. The Terps faced Oregon State at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and ended up barely being bowl eligible as they only had a 6-6 record. Maryland was gashed by Beavers senior running back Yvenson Bernard, who racked up 177 yards on 38 carries and a touchdown in a 21-14 loss. The defeat snapped a streak of three consecutive bowl victories for the Terps. Quarterback Chris Turner threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns, but also tossed a pair of interceptions in the loss. Star wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey caught three passes for 99 yards and a touchdown for Maryland.

How Stanford got here: The Cardinal had a down year by their own previously set standards. After Jim Harbaugh decided to leave Stanford to coach the San Francisco 49ers, Shaw was promoted from his post as offensive coordinator where he was a staple from 2007 to 2010. In his first three years as the head coach at his alma mater, Shaw posted a 34-7 record with three BCS bowl appearances (two Rose Bowls and a Fiesta Bowl). During Shaw’s first season as head coach, he did have the good fortune of having current Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck under center, which resulted in a Fiesta Bowl appearance (ended up losing 41-38 to Oklahoma State).

During the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Shaw’s Cardinal won a combined total of 23 games. Obviously, the bar was set very high entering the 2014 season. There were six Stanford players that were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, including defensive end Trent Murphy (Washington Redskins), offensive tackle Cameron Fleming (New England Patriots), offensive guard David Yankey (Minnesota Vikings), defensive back Ed Reynolds (Philadelphia Eagles), running back Tyler Gaffney (Carolina Panthers), and defensive end Ben Gardner (Dallas Cowboys). Even with all those departures, Stanford returned quarterback Kevin Hogan and a veteran group of offensive linemen.

In Stanford’s non-conference portion of the schedule, the Cardinal had a chance to pad their resume with matchups against two then top 15 teams in Notre Dame and USC. However, Shaw’s squad lost both game due to the fact that they scored 24 combined points in both games.

The entire season was a cluster of inconsistent play. Stanford only won two consecutive games on two separate occasions (beat Army & Washington in Sept. and California & UCLA in Nov.). The Cardinal were able to beat California and UCLA to close out the season. Stanford went 1-5 against ranked teams this season and 6-0 against unranked teams. As the level of competition rises, they’ve failed to come to play.

How Maryland got here: After 61 years as a member of the ACC, the Terps officially moved to the Big Ten in July. Maryland’s football program was one of the first sports at the university to partake in athletics as a new member of the Big Ten conference. The Terps lost a few key contributors on the defensive side of the ball in cornerback Dexter McDougle (New York Jets), cornerback Issac Goins, and linebacker Marcus Whitfield (Jacksonville Jaguars), but there was plenty of talent around to help replace them.

Overall, it was a season of ups and downs for the Terps to say the least.

Maryland started off the year with a 52-7 drubbing of former Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee. The next two weeks weren’t pretty by any stretch. A road game against South Florida was supposed to be a cakewalk, and it was anything but. On the first two possessions of the game, quarterback C.J. Brown tossed an interception and running back Brandon Ross fumbled. Maryland even trailed 17-14 entering the fourth quarter, but got enough key plays from the defense to walk away with the win. On the following Saturday against West Virginia, Mountaineers quarterback Clint Trickett shredded the Terps defense for 511 yards and four touchdowns through the air. Maryland nearly came back to win, despite trailing 28-6.

When it came to Big Ten play, consistency wasn’t something that Maryland could seem to maintain. The Terps opened the league schedule with being blown out by Ohio State 52-24. The highlight of the season was defeating Penn State and Michigan on the road, even though both teams struggled during the 2014 season. The regular season ended with a deflating loss to Rutgers in which Maryland blew a 35-17 halftime lead in Ralph Friedgen’s return to College Park. If Maryland wins that game, they’re probably playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Storylines To Watch:

1.) Battle in the trenches – Stanford has one of the best offensive lines around, and in turn, gave up the least amount of sacks in the Pac 12 in 2014. On the other hand, Maryland ranked fifth in the rugged Big Ten with 31 sacks, including 9.5 by senior defensive end Andre Monroe. It’s going to be a battle of which unit rises to the challenge in the guts of the game. The Terps have shown their ability to get to the quarterback, and even stop the run at times.

2. Grinding it out against Stanford’s defense – The Cardinal have the fourth best defense in the entire nation, only giving up an average of 287.4 yards-per-game. Stanford’s pass defense is extremely talented as they are only allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 57.1 percent of their passes. For a quarterback like Maryland has in Brown that struggles with accuracy at times, this will be a true test. While it’s been a huge issue for much of the season, the Terps are going to have to run the football a very solid amount of times. Running back Wes Brown is going to have to be a factor, given his physical style of running. If Maryland is going to win this game, they’re going to have to mix the run with the pass.

3.) Who becomes Stanford’s primary option with Ty Montgomery out? – With the Cardinal star playmaker Ty Montgomery out for the Foster Farms Bowl, who will Hogan rely on in key moments? Stanford could rely more on the running game than they have all season with Remound Wright. Hogan could also lean on a pair of Montgomery’s replacements in senior Devon Cajuste (510 yards and four touchdowns) and tight end Austin Hooper (428 yards and two touchdowns). Whichever it ends up being, Stanford’s path to victory is a lot tougher without their dynamic receiver.

4.) The return of Stefon Diggs – After missing the final three games with a lacerated kidney, Maryland’s favorite son is back in the lineup. When Diggs was out, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of consistency from the wide receiver position. The Good Counsel product adds a whole new dynamic to Maryland’s offense as he can be used in a variety of ways. Diggs also gives the Terps a deep threat down the field.

5.) The seniors – Maryland is losing a very large amount of their players to graduation in the offseason. The likes of linebacker Cole Farrand, defensive tackle Darius Kilgo, and Monroe are leaving and that’s just on the defensive side of the ball. With the Military Bowl in their minds, this year’s senior class would certainly love nothing more than to finish off their Maryland careers with a bowl victory against a marquee opponent.