Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stanford: 2014 Foster Farms Bowl Champions

Stanford (8-5) did its part to keep the Pac-12’s perfect bowl record in play this bowl season. The Cardinal were dominant in a 45-21 victory over Maryland (7-6), improving the Pac-12 bowl record to a clean 4-0 this season.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was locked in from the start, ending his night with a pair of touchdown passes and plenty of short, accurate passes for 189 yards and 50 rushing yards. Cardinal running back Remound Wright rushed for three touchdowns to help push Stanford to a big lead in the first half. Wright was unstoppable down close to the end zone, scoring all three of his first-half touchdowns from inside the four-yard line. Having that offensive line providing a nice push against the Maryland defense certainly had an impact as well.
There were very few offensive highlights for Maryland in their first bowl game representing the Big Ten. Will Likely returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, although it came in the fourth quarter with Stanford still leading 42-14 following the score. Stefon Diggs returned to the field after missing the last few games of the season due to an injury, and he led the Terps with 106 receiving yards on nine catches. Quarterback C.J. Brown struggled to find consistency during the game, and he was picked off once and under pressure and sacked multiple times. He did run for a touchdown on his final play on the field of his career, so that was nice.
Stanford was a mess inside the red zone for a while this season, but you would not have been able to guess that if the Foster Farms Bowl was your first time watching the Cardinal this season. Stanford scored five red zone touchdowns. If the Cardinal can take that and the success seen in the regular season finale against UCLA into the spring, the Cardinal should once again be considered a team to pay attention to in the Pac-12 in 2015. There are going to be plenty of holes to fill though, on both sides of the football. The defense should be hit especially hard, but David Shaw‘s program has found a way to continue to play well on defense and that is not expected to change anytime soon.
Shaw now has two bowl victories to his name. That is as many bowl victories as Stanford had from 1993 through the end of the Jim Harbaugh era in 2010.
The Pac-12 remains the only conference without a loss this bowl season. At 4-0, the Pac-12 now owns the best bowl record of any conference this season, with Conference USA and the SEC each trailing with 4-1 records. The Big Ten is now a game under .500 at 2-3. The ACC (3-5) and Big 12 (0-3) are also struggling so far this bowl season.
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