Geography is on the side of the Stanford Cardinal (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) when they face the Maryland Terrapins (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) on Tuesday night in the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The Stanford campus is just 13.4 miles from the stadium, while the Maryland contingent will be traveling 2,841 miles.
The path to the bowl game is also quite different based on their respective regular seasons.
Stanford entered the year as the No. 11 team in the nation. But three-point losses to USC and Notre Dame dropped the Cardinal out of bigger bowl contention, and by the middle of November, David Shaw’s squad would lose to three ranked Pac-12 opponents: Arizona State, Oregon, and Utah.
While three of the five losses were tight, the victories were convincing. The Cardinal won their seven games by a margin of 24.3 points, and that included a season-ending thumping of then-No.8 UCLA, 31-10.
Shaw will be without playmaker Ty Montgomery, who led the team in receiving yards (604), and added three touchdowns. The senior also rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown, and was a big-play threat on punt returns, scoring two touchdowns and averaging 18.3 yards. Stanford may turn to running back Remound Wright, who averages 4.3 yards per carry, and has scored eight rushing touchdowns.
Stanford’s defense has been a key weapon this season. The Cardinal have allowed just 16 points per game, which ranks second in the nation.
Maryland failed to enter the Top 25, and only faced two ranked teams all season, losing big at home to both Ohio State and Michigan State. When the Terrapins won, they often barely got by, edging four opponents by seven points or less. In their last game of the season, Maryland squandered a 25-point lead to Rutgers, in a 41-38 home loss.
Quarterback C.J. Brown is Maryland’s top threat. The senior has thrown for 2,083 yards and leads the team in rushing yards (569) and touchdowns (7).
With an offense that ranks No. 73 in passing and No. 105 in rushing, Randy Edsall may rely on his special teams to pull off an upset. Kicker Brad Craddock, who has converted 18 of his 19 field-goal attempts, and punt and kick returner Will Likely have enjoyed stellar seasons.
The Terrapins may need their defense to step up if they expect to be competitive against Stanford. Maryland has allowed 28.9 points this season (No. 84). Against Rutgers, the Terrapin defense allowed 491 total yards, despite the Scarlet Knights turning the ball over twice.
Maryland is seeking their first bowl victory under Edsall, who took the Terrapins to the Military Bowl last year. Shaw enters his fourth bowl appearance, winning the 2013 Rose Bowl, and losing the 2012 Fiesta Bowl and 2014 Rose Bowl.
This is the first meeting between the two schools. The Cardinal enter as two-touchdown favorites.
Start Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Point Spread: Stanford favored by 14 points
Over/Under: 48 points
Prediction: Stanford over Maryland, 34-10