Second half starts with a Maryland three and out and then Kevin Hogan and Remound Wright runs for 14 and 35, respectively. Next snap, Hogan fumbles before he could handoff to Daniel Marx, so Maryland will start from their 27.
No harm done, as the Stanford front seven has been trying to rip the ball on most tackles, but turns out it's the secondary that forces the turnover. Ball sails on C.J. Brown--maybe it's the wind--and Kyle Olugbode has an easy interception and return to the Terp 34. Michael Rector gets nine yards on a pass interference, and then Hogan overthinks and is off on a throwback screen to an open Austin Hooper maybe five yards past the line. Hooper would have had one man to beat to reach paydirt.
Hogan comes back with two bullets to tight ends, first to Hooper for 16, and then to Cajuste for nine and another score.
Stanford 35, Maryland 7, 10:18 remaining, third quarter
I wonder if bowls can or should choose a worse team to maximize the chances of a close game. America's turning off its TVs now, if it hasn't already. With Stanford No. 20 to Maryland's No. 50 in Sagarin's predictor ratings, which close track Vegas lines, and the Card in a semi-home venue, it's no surprise the Cardinal were two-touchdown favorites, the most lopsided spread all bowl season.
Pretend this game were in a neutral state, such that choosing Stanford doesn't come with bonus of thousands of likely ticket sales to local fans. If the bowl is stuck with Maryland, does it make sense for them to instead take, say, No. 39 Washington, who would have been presumptive 3.5-point favorites instead? Both Washington and Stanford had five-loss records, so the matchup looks just as good on paper to Joe Fan. The game's probably not pushing a 30-point margin, so the bowl probably has twice the TV audience they do in actuality. Just sayin'…
Things are going to get worse before they get better for the suits. Dallas Lloyd blocks a punt, Francis Owusu recovers, and the Card will have a golden chance to pad the margin, starting from the Terp 24.
Instead, run up the middle for one, McCaffrey wildcat for three, Kevin Hogan incomplete to Jordan Pratt, and then Jordan Williamson's attempt is two stadium sections wide.
The Hogan misfire and the Williamson miss were new today – if not on the season – but the failed first down run was not. Even today, in an otherwise stellar offensive day, here's the ledger when Hogan handed off on first down:
Wright for two
Young for two
Wright for two
Young for zero
Wright for two
Wright for 35
Marx for one
(I can hear it already: "Hey, it's over six yards per carry! What's the problem?") Hard to land body blows when you don't have the ball. We're driving up and down the field despite these efforts, not because of them, and I think the season would have been better with fewer first-down dives.
This drive though, Stanford is rightfully content to keep it on the ground, keep rotating down the tailback depth chart, and keep that playclock running low. The drive is at 4:56 and counting as the third quarter ends, and it will be third and goal at the one-inch line once play resumes. Devon Cajuste has made a 21-yard catch and induced a defensive pass interference call, but otherwise it's been all ground and pound.
Ricky Seale with an obvious touchdown on a one-inch dive, after almost certainly scoring the previous snap too. Someone in the replay booth has $500 on the under, as we're in a lengthy review nonetheless, and yes, it is a touchdown after all.
Stanford 42, Maryland 7, 14:52 remaining
Yards are 370 to 145, but William Likely runs back a kickoff 100 yards the other way. Zach Hoffpauir does well to close the angle and make a diving effort at the Card 10, and Williamson makes me laugh as he attempts a slide tackle, but it's the Card's first return allowed since 2008, per Flemming.
Stanford 42, Maryland 14, 14:38 remaining
We see McElroy try and rave about Stanford's virtual reality mask, and Flemming adds that hopefully the Stanford backup quarterbacks are using it given that they aren't seeing the live reps. McElroy says he bets it'll be commonplace across the country in a few years. We shall see. Crower in for a three and out. Total yards are now 375-145. Hogan ends 14 of 20 for 189 yards and two scores.
Stanford runs for 186 on 37 carries, a five yard per carry average. McCaffrey, Hogan and Wright each have about 50 yards while averaging nine, seven and six yards per touch, respectively. The rest of the backs? 17 touches for 39 yards, less than 2.3 yards per touch. Part of Stanford's problem this year was not settling on a clear pecking order at tailback.
McCaffrey makes six guys miss on a punt return, including splitting the first two gunners for the third time today, and hurdles the punter (well, kind of stiff-legs him in the face, but it works). I strongly hope he is the clear-cut RB1 from day one next year, and we build an offense around the talent we have recruited onto the roster, not vice versa.
Crower's struggling, failing to see an open McCaffrey on a screen and instead throwing into traffic for a five-yard loss. (And really, if there's one guy you'd kind of want to keep in the corner of your eye today, it'd obviously be him.) If Hogan comes back, and then if Andrus Peat comes back, and add in next year's home schedule, and who knows. Bad timing for Peat, who commits a false start and then is beat on a speed rush right as the camera focuses on him and the announcers talk up his draft prospects. Don't know what's best for him personally, but have to imagine he hasn't maximized his talent – or likely draft position – on the Farm yet. Francis Owusu can't catch the back-shoulder fade, well-thrown but well-covered too, to give Crower a feel-good moment.
Jordan Williamson converts on his second try of the day after the drive stalls at the Terp 13.
Stanford 45, Maryland 14
This Maryland offense has struggled against top teams, with 175 yards against Wisconsin, 194 to Penn State and 252 to Michigan State. With 144 yards allowed today, the Stanford D will have an opportunity to be yet another opponent's worst game of the season. Just need to lockdown here.
On the other side, it'll go down as a feast-or-famine season for the Cardinal offense. They didn't score between 21 and 30 points in any game this season. In games scoring 20 or fewer points, the Card went 1-5. (The sole win was 20-13 over Washington.) In games scoring over 30, the Card will finish 7-0. So the overall stats will average out decently, but that won't tell the whole story. When it was ugly in 2014 – and most of the time, merely bad-looking would have won the day – goodness was it ugly.
Not a good omen for next year, as Maryland marches 78 yards in seven plays for a score on the second-team defense. So much for a season-low for the Terps, but hey, we can try for 50 now.
Stanford 45, Maryland 21
45 points in a bowl game is the best in Stanford history. Meanwhile, it's six sacks and two turnovers for the defense, which saw the starters allow just seven points to close the season as one of the best units in the country. Coming into tonight, the unit was No. 11 to Football Outsiders' advanced rankings, so the D should end in the Top 10 after bowl season. Neither offense nor special teams entered bowl season in the Top 50, and so it was the defense that carried this squad to another winning season, and another bowl victory.
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