San Francisco Bowl Pick

170
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San Francisco

Bowl Pick

Maryland

vs.

Stanford

12/30/14

From the outside, the San Francisco Bowl doesn’t look like an even Game, and looking at the numbers it doesn’t look even either. Despite both having 7-5 records, Stanford is a -14 point favorite against Maryland for the Game played at Levi’s Stadium.

The difference in Conference strengths is evident in this spread. In a down season, Maryland went 4-4 in Big Ten play in its first season in the conference. The Terrapins were blown out by the top three teams in the Conference with wins against Iowa, Penn State and Michigan. In non-Conference play they fell to West Virginia, their only relevant opponent. In the Terps’ season finale, they lost at home to Rutgers.

As for Stanford, it was already expected to be a down season, but there’s not a whole lot of harm in their losses. The Cardinal’s worst loss on the year was either at Notre Dame or in double overtime against Utah. They closed the season with two big road wins at California and UCLA, making them bowl eligible.

Stanford’s main issue this season has been an inconsistent offense without a running Game. The defense is stopping teams to 16 points per Game, but this hasn’t been the same great unit as year’s past, made evident after allowing 45 points to Oregon. It doesn’t help that the offense struggles to move the ball.

The Cardinal had trouble finding a go-to running back all season, but Remound Wright kind of took that job, although he has yet to surpass 100 yards in a Game. Wright did scoresix touchdowns in the final two Games. Without a dominant ground Game, QB Kevin Hogan (17 TDs, 8 INTs) and WR Ty Montgomery (604 yards, 3 TDs) have struggled to get going in the passing Game. Despite attempting more passes this season, Hogan has less yards and touchdowns than a year ago, and the same can be said about Montgomery, who is questionable to return for this Game. While Montgomery is still an explosive playmaker, he just hasn’t done as much this season with more attention, and the offense looked great without him in the final Game.

Maryland’s defense isn’t good and just gave up 41 points to Rutgers, so Hogan and company should find the end zone a little more than usual. On the other end, Maryland will run into some problems against Stanford’s defense.

That’s not saying the Terrapins won’t score, but it won’t be easy for them. Their playmaker Stefon Diggs (654 yards, 5 TDs) has missed the final three Games, but should be good to go for this one. Getting a run Game going against the Cardinal will be tough for a team that averaged 3.9 yards per carry in the Big Ten. Quarterback C.J. Brown is a big part of that with 569 rushing yards and seven TDs, but his inefficiencies in the passing Game (53.2% completion) often come to light. OUtside of Brown and Diggs, this team doesn’t have much else, especially in the running Game. Brandon Ross (385 yards) and Wes Brown (341 yards) are the leading RBs.

This is a large line, but considering the teams and where this Game is being played, it makes sense. The Maryland defense needs to step up to keep it within striking distance; otherwise it could get out of hand like their previous Games against OSU, MSU and Wisconsin. But if Stanford continues the way they closed the season, this won’t be a good result for the Big Ten.

The Terrapins are 4-1 ATS in their last five neutral-site Games and 6-0 ATS in their last six following a straight-up loss. The Cardinal are 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl Games, but 1-6 ATS in their last seven following a straight-up win.

We’re using the side as a key release to Our subscribers. So no free play on the side here. However, we’ll offer an opinion on OVER 48.

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