Tag Archives: foster farms bowl

Big Ten Bowl Predictions

Here are my predictions for all ten bowl games.

Holiday Bowl – Wisconsin vs. University of Southern California

It still is unclear to me and many others how good or bad this team really is but they will have a golden opportunity to prove they are for real when they take on USC in the Holiday Bowl . The Badger defense will face its hardest test of the year when they take on the highly-talented Cody Kessler but don’t expect a blowout or for USC to overpower the Wisconsin defense. This defensive unit is extremely talented and aggressive, constantly pressuring the opposition with Joe Schobert and is No.1 nationally in scoring defense. As for USC, the Trojans front seven will be licking their chops as they take on an injury-riddled offensive line, a turnover prone quarterback in Joel Stave and a run game missing its top threat in Cory Clement. Nonetheless, I predict a close game and that the Badger defense will give Stave a chance to atone for his shortcomings this year late in the game. Wisconsin wins 27-24.

Citrus Bowl – Michigan vs. Florida

Both Florida and Michigan made coaching switches before the season and those moves have paid off tremendously as each program shattered expectations. Also, both teams boast killer defenses but are offensively challenged particularly rushing the ball (Florida – 104th, Michigan – 93rd). I’m not sure how well Michigan can move the ball especially going up against a deep, athletic front seven and a secondary that gave up just 175 yards per game even with a healthy Jake Rudock. Conversely, Treon Harris has been highly inconsistent and the Wolverines defense has allowed the opposition to complete just 48% of their passes on the year with seven touchdowns. However, Florida has kicking problems as Austin Hardin has converted just 5/14 field goals and in what looks like a close, defensive battle, points will be hard to come by. I predict a Michigan win because after being humiliated by OSU, I can guarantee this team will not let Harris run free like J.T. Barrett did. Wolverines win 20-10.

Outback Bowl – Northwestern vs. Tennessee

The Northwestern Wildcats are aiming to put an exclamation point on a solid season by winning 11 games for the first time in history and the Tennessee Volunteers want to close out 2015 with six straight victories. The Volunteers high powered offense will have to work hard against one of the country’s stingiest defenses as the Wildcats have allowed just five passing touchdowns and tallied 12 picks while giving up 200 rushing yards twice. However, if Tennessee can somehow manage to solve the defensive puzzle and score, it could be a long day for Northwestern. They do not do well playing from behind as their offense lacks firepower – they only topped 200 passing yards once this year and are No. 120 in passing yards per game. Also, Joshua Dobbs presents problems with his dual-threat ability and has had time to heal. If Dobbs can perform the way he did against Florida and Georgia, it’ll be a tough task for the Wildcats to contain him. I see the Vols taking this one, 24-14.

Pinstripe Bowl – Indiana vs. Duke

Duke comes into this game losing four of its last five games while Indiana is just excited to be in a bowl game since 2007 and a chance for a rare winning season. The Hoosiers are the definition of polar opposites as their defense was one of the worst in the nation, allowing 37 points per game while their offense was a high-octane juggernaut, averaging 36 points a contest and scoring 41 points in the final three games even against Michigan. As for the Blue Devils, they will look to exploit the porous defense with dual-threat quarterback Thomas Sirk, but Duke has yielded 30 or more points in five of their last six games. This game has shootout written all over it and if that’s the case, then I have to give the edge to Indiana, 38-31.

Foster Farms Bowl – Nebraska vs. University of California-Los Angeles

Nebraska is like Jekyll and Hyde. Are they the bad-ass team that beat Michigan State even if it was controversial or are they the soft, pedestrian team that lost to Illinois? Its hard to gauge how good or bad this team is as six of their seven losses were by no more than eight points but will prove its worth versus UCLA. Speaking of which, despite having true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen throw over 3350 yards and 20 touchdowns, they were also inconsistent and had their own hiccups like a 19-point thrashing by USC. I feel the battle in the trenches will play a pivotal role as Nebraska ranked 8th in the country in stopping the run while the O-line was reliable, giving up only 13 sacks. However, Rosen gets to face a suspect Husker defensive backfield that ranks No. 13 in Big Ten pass defense and Tommy Armstrong faces a unit that allowed 394 ypg. Both teams are very evenly matched but I believe in the kid over the veteran and will take UCLA 21-17.

Quick Lane Bowl – Minnesota vs. Central Michigan

Minnesota had a tough year with close losses to TCU and Michigan, the retirement of Jerry Kill and comes in losing five of the last six games. Central Michigan is red-hot, winning five of their past six and features a high flying offense that averages 313 yards passing per game and if they get ahead, Minnesota’s maligned offense will have a hard time keeping up. Also, the Chippewa’s allowed only one 300-yard passing game and Minnesota is not built to go toe-to-toe passing the pigskin either. Their hope lies in getting the ground game going though it ranked 11th in the conference. Now Central Michigan has not yielded over 180 yards rushing in any of the last six games but teams that could pound the ball did against them and Minnesota could have a breakout game on the ground. Plus, the Gophers have a very strong secondary (15th overall) and while I see Cooper Rush making some plays, it won’t be enough as Minnesota ends their season on a positive note, 23-17.

Rose Bowl – Iowa vs. Stanford

Iowa has a chance to prove that they are an elite team and this year wasn’t a fluke in their first Rose Bowl game since 1990 while Stanford wants to make a statement about missing the playoff. The Achilles heel for Stanford has been their run defense as Northwestern ran for 225, Oregon for 231 and Notre Dame for 299, resulting in two losses and a near third. Iowa has manufactured 200 or more rushing yards seven times and averaged 192 per game on the season. If they can run the ball, Stanford could find itself in a hole. On the other side, the stout Iowa defense will have their hands full with Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey and veteran quarterback Kevin Hogan but if they can force them to pass, they’ll have a chance especially with the Big Ten’s best corner, Desmond King. Both teams will have shining moments in this game but I feel with the defense and C.J. Beathard, Iowa will do just enough to win a close one, 20-17.

Cotton Bowl – Michigan State vs. Alabama

Michigan State will not beat itself with costly turnovers, silly penalties and will control the pace of the game as veteran quarterback Connor Cook is savvy enough to move the chains. Alabama will be looking to attack a weak, suspect secondary that gave up 200 or more passing yards in four of its last six games as the Spartans run defense has been solid all year, and with time to prepare, will be ready for Derrick Henry – though containing him is a different story. I will also be watching how the Spartans offensive line matches up with the athletic front seven that lead the nation in sacks with 46 but keep in mind, MSU’s also one of the few teams that could possibly hold up itself against the Crimson Tide’s lines as it proved that against Ohio State. Now, Michigan State has a chance if it can attack Alabama’s secondary with Aaron Burbridge but I think the Alabama defensive line will apply good pressure and prevent Cook from having a clean pocket. And I think Henry will wear down this defense as the games goes on. Alabama wins 28-20.

Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State vs. Notre Dame

Ezekiel Elliott is the heart and soul of this offense and considering it’s his final game as a Buckeye, I expect OSU to pound away against Notre Dame and lean on him. If the Irish do succeed in bottling him up, OSU still should be able to control the game with the speed and elusiveness of J.T. Barrett. As for the Irish, I see them pounding the interior of the defensive line as Adolphus Washington will be suspended to set up play action and manageable third downs for quarterback Deshone Kizer. The Buckeyes secondary also hasn’t faced a receiver like Will Fuller, who found the endzone 13 times and averaged 20.5 yards a catch though, the Silver Bullets were second in scoring defense and sixth in efficiency, allowing over 17 points only twice in the last 11 games. With all that said, I think Urban Meyer will have his team focused and ready to play. Plus, Ohio State has more talent. Buckeyes win 35-21.

Taxslayer Bowl – Penn State vs. Georgia

The Nittany Lions have little offense as they rank 110th in total yards per game (325) and score 24 points a game (101st), and to make matters worse, Georgia features the top passing defense in the country, allowing just 146 yards per game. The Nittany Lions are No. 83 in passing offense, averaging 209 yards per game. However, Penn state also has an elite defense (No. 12 in total defense) andGeorgia has a flimsy passing game (103rd; 187 ypg) so it relies on its ground game and I see PSU loading the box to make Bulldogs quarterback Greyson Lambert beat them. Lambert is not an NFL prospect like Christian Hackenberg but he is a good game manager and will take care of the ball. I see this as a low scoring defensive battle with each offense grasping for any foothold and I believe in the Bulldogs run game with Michel running effectively en route to victory. Georgia wins 17-10.

Blowout Bowl Loss Caps Disappointing End to Terps’ Season

Despite their matching 7-5 records, the Stanford Cardinal was the heaviest favorite of any team participating in a bowl game this year. The oddsmakers and talking heads were not wrong; the Maryland Terrapins were dominated in the first annual Foster Farms Bowl Tuesday night. The gusts of wind swirling about Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara blew the football from the tee twice before Maryland kicker Brad Craddock could strike it to begin the game. The 45 degree temperature at kickoff was uncharacteristically chilly for Western California this time of year. The Terps were also cold, but this unfortunately was not so uncharacteristic. Stanford set the tone for the night on the opening possession by driving 75 yards in 12 plays and scoring their first of six touchdowns in the game. The Maryland defense struggled to get pressure on Kevin Hogan all night, and the Stanford quarterback accounted for 240 yards of total offense and two passing touchdowns. Cardinal running back Remound Wright rushed eight times for 49 yards and three scores, while Christian McCaffrey made the Terrapins look silly on every one of his seven carries.

With the loss, Randy Edsall is 0-2 in bowl games since becoming Maryland’s head coach in 2011, and has missed the postseason altogether twice. The 7-5 record in 2014 is nothing to scoff at, especially taking into account it being Maryland’s first season as members of the Big Ten, but as a Maryland alum and fan I still feel unsatisfied. The inaugural Big Ten season is officially in the books, however, and the Terps will look to build upon a winning record and a bowl appearance next season. Here are a few observations and takeaways from the 2014 season:

The Terps need a traditional pocket quarterback in 2015.

Sixth-year senior C.J. Brown played in his final game as a Terrapin, finishing with 205 passing yards, one interception, and one rushing touchdown. His faults do not need to be documented at length here, as his decision making and accuracy issues were a topic of discussion all season long. While Brown ended his Terrapin career as Maryland’s all-time leader in total touchdowns (responsible for 58 total), he will likely be remembered for his legs more than his arm, and his interceptions and overthrows more than his touchdown passes. Don’t get me wrong, Brown was no Boomer Esiason, but I feel some of the criticism he encountered in 2014 could have been diverted elsewhere, such as poor individual play-calls, inexplicably awful game planning, and a season-long lack of any semblance of a running game (outside of Brown himself). That said, it is time for Maryland to make the move back to a more traditional, pocket quarterback in 2015. Whether or not Stefon Diggs stays or enters the NFL Draft, Maryland will still have substantial weapons at wide receiver next season including Juwann Winfree, Daniel Adams, and both Jacobs brothers. The offense should focus on getting the ball into the hands of these playmakers, and if Diggs returns that’s obviously just a (huge) bonus. Caleb Rowe will fill the role as starter, and hopefully his previous experience under center has groomed him well to take the reins for the first time in his career as the unquestioned starter.

William Likely and Andre Monroe are studs.

Likely: The sophomore cornerback led the Big Ten in interceptions in 2014 and may very well be an NFL star in the making. He was included as part of ESPN.com’s All-Big Ten team, and made his presence felt yet again against Stanford. It was as a member of special teams, however, as Likely took a Stanford kickoff 100 yards for Maryland’s second touchdown of the game. The Terrapin secondary was shredded more than once this season, but Likely was a significant factor in many of the Terps’ seven wins as both a playmaking defender and a dangerous return man on special teams.

CB William Likely set a school record with 228 return yards against Michigan State. Photo courtesy Mitchell Layton, Getty Images.
CB William Likely set a single-game school record with 228 kick return yards against Michigan State. Photo courtesy Mitchell Layton, Getty Images.

Monroe: DT Andre Monroe entered the game against Stanford tied for the all-time lead in career sacks as a Terp. After taking down Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan in the first quarter, Monroe became the sole record holder for career sacks with 25. Monroe had 10.5 sacks in 2014, which was the eighth-most in a single season for a Terp in school history.

Maryland needs to find a go-to running back.

How Maryland got to seven wins without ever having established a formidable running game is a feat beyond explanation. Only once all season did a Terrapin running back eclipse the usually not-so-elusive 100-yard plateau in a single game. Terps fans can complain about inefficient quarterback play, or injuries plaguing the team yet again this season, or dropped passes, or a defense that as a unit fell far short of preseason expectations. I wouldn’t disagree with any of the above, but I’d argue the single most detrimental aspect of the football program in 2014 was the mind-boggling lack of a rushing attack. The lack of production at the position is directly linked to the season-long utilization of a two- or even three-running back by committee system. Brandon Ross and Wes Brown split carries for the majority of the season, with Jacquille Veii and Albert Reid (earlier in the season) mixing in as well. Edsall forced the idea all season, and there isn’t a single example of it having paid off. Maryland needs to settle on a starting running back next year that can carry the load for the Terps.

The Terps will never be competitive against elite programs under Randy Edsall.

The exceptions to this rule of course were the Terps’ wins at Penn State and at Michigan. Both were great wins for Maryland, but those teams had down years in 2014. This may be too broad of a generalization, but it seems before Edsall arrived at Maryland the Terps at least stood a chance of pulling off an upset over a top-10 or -15 program. In 2004 Maryland took down #5 Florida State. Although 2007 was an overall disappointing season, the Terps managed to defeat #10 Rutgers and #8 Boston College. In Ralph Friedgen’s last four years as Maryland’s head coach (2007-10), the Terps went 7-6 against ranked opponents. Under Edsall, Maryland has not managed to win a single game against a ranked opponent and is 0-10 (2011-14). This season the Terps were destroyed by Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. We can add Stanford to the list.

Do the Terps Stand a Chance Against Stanford?

The Maryland Terrapins are slated to face the Stanford Cardinal December 30 in the Foster Farms Bowl. The paths the two teams traveled in 2014 were somewhat similar, as both Maryland and Stanford had up-and-down seasons and finished the year with a 7-5 record. Stanford, however, did not live up to preseason expectations while Maryland exceeded them. The Terps still aren’t getting much love across the nation and Stanford is a two-touchdown favorite, which begs the question on the mind of Maryland fans: Do the Terps stand a chance against Stanford?

On paper, Stanford is unquestionably the better team. Beginning the season ranked 11th in the country, the Cardinal disposed easily of UC Davis before falling short to rival USC in a low-scoring affair at home (13-10 final). Wins over Army and Washington followed before a 17-14 loss against a Notre Dame team that was ranked No. 9 at the time (a much different team than the one that lost its last four games of 2014, including a 49-14 drubbing by USC). A 34-17 win over Washington State followed, but the Cardinal managed to go just 3-3 over the second half of their season. While Stanford was undoubtedly displeased with how their season played out, the 7-5 record doesn’t tell the entire story.

The Trojans needed a 53-yard field goal with 2:30 remaining in the game and a forced fumble in order to beat Stanford in an ugly slug-fest that truly could have gone either way. No. 9 Notre Dame needed to convert on 4th and 11 with just over a minute remaining in the game in order to keep their hopes of defeating Stanford alive. Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson threw a 23-yard touchdown pass and Notre Dame escaped with a victory, handing Stanford their second loss of the season.

Stanford’s other three losses came at the hands of three teams currently ranked No. 15, No. 2, and No. 22 in the country (Arizona State, Oregon, Utah). In other words, none of Stanford’s five losses were to an unranked opponent at the time the game was played, four of the five are still currently nationally ranked, and Stanford’s record could have easily been anywhere from 8-4 to 10-2 instead of the 7-5 record they finished the regular season with.

In my unbiased opinion, I believe the short answer to the question of whether or not Maryland could prevail a week from today is no. The Cardinal is a battle-tested team that finished the regular season on a very high note. Stanford handily defeated rival Cal at California, and then did the same to No. 8 UCLA. The Terps had quite a different ending to their season, as Maryland blew a 25-point lead and fell in gut-wrenching fashion to the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. I unfortunately would have to agree with the overwhelming majority of the country in thinking the Terps’ chances of upsetting Stanford on December 30 are slim to none. Another factor not working in Maryland’s favor is that the bowl game is being played in Stanford’s backyard, as Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is just 20 minutes from Stanford University’s campus.

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan isn’t exactly a world-beater, but he can certainly do damage when afforded enough opportunities. He finished the regular season with 2603 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also has a knack for running with the football and had 84 official carries for 245 yards and five rushing touchdowns. Remound Wright led the Stanford backfield with 552 yards on 127 carries and eight rushing touchdowns. Senior Ty Montgomery is Hogan’s favorite target by far, and finished 2014 with 604 receiving yards on 61 receptions, twice as many receptions as the next receiver (Devon Cajuste, 30 rec, 510 yards).

There is only one scenario that could potentially occur that would give Maryland a chance of winning this game: if it is a sloppy, low-scoring game and the Terps can force multiple Stanford turnovers and limit their own. Stanford has turned the ball over 20 times this season, just one fewer than Maryland’s 21 turnovers in 2014. Stanford’s defense has performed well overall, but their secondary is beatable if Maryland’s C.J. Brown is on his game, much like he was in the first half of the home loss to Rutgers. The formula for the Terps flying back east with a victory is creating turnovers, capitalizing on those turnovers, and keeping its offense on the field for as long as possible in order to keep the defense fresh and to limit Stanford’s scoring opportunities.

I fear this game will play out less like Maryland’s 20-19 victory over Penn State on November 1 and more like the Terps’ 37-15 loss to Michigan State the following week. I’d be surprised if Maryland got blindsided the way they did when they faced Wisconsin (52-7 final score for those of you who blocked this out of your memory), but it’s certainly possible. Stanford has much less to play for than Maryland does, which could work in the Terps’ favor. Unfortunately I think it’s rather simple to predict how this one ends.