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Emerald Bowl

Emerald Bowl

2007 Emerald Bowl Preview
by Josh Nagel

Maryland (6-6) vs. Oregon State (8-4)

Conference Matchup: ACC vs. Pac-10
Date: Dec. 28
Location: AT&T Park, San Francisco
Spread: Oregon State -4

This game provides some intrigue as it features two teams that each had rough starts to the season before coming on strong. Oregon State lost its first two Pac-10 games against Arizona State and UCLA before reeling off a string of victories that included wins over then-No. 2 California and No. 18 Oregon. In Mike Riley's two-part tenure at the school, the Beavers are 3-0 in bowl games. The Terrapins were one of just four teams to defeat two teams ranked in the top 10 this season, defeating then-No. 10 Rutgers early in the season and defeating No. 8 Boston College later on. However, Maryland struggled in the middle of its season and did not become bowl eligible until its final game, a 37-0 win over N.C. State. The Terrapins have also won their last three bowl games, outscoring their opponents at a 95-17 clip. The key to the game might be which team controls the line of scrimmage; Maryland boasts a fairly strong rushing attack, but Oregon State is one the nation's top run stuffers. These teams look fairly even on paper, so there would appear to be value in taking the points. However, the Beavers finished the season with more momentum and they have a little more punch on offense.

Maryland can cover if: If the Terrapins can establish their run game against one of the nation's top run defenses, they should be able to control the clock and play the type of low-scoring game that they seem to favor. Maryland is one of just four teams in the country to have two running backs rush for more than 750 yards; Keon Lattimore has 789 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Lance Ball has gained 763 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. However, the Beavers have the nation's second-ranked rush defense (75 yards per game), so something has to give. Maryland's offense plods along at a 24-points-per-game clip, among the bottom third in the country. But it's the outcome also depends on which Maryland team shows up. Despite its success against top-ranked teams, Maryland has been wildly inconsistent and went just 3-5 in the ACC, suffering losses to Virginia and North Carolina in games they should have - or at least could have - won.

Oregon State can cover if: If the Beavers play the way they have the past seven weeks or so, they should be just fine. In addition to bowl success, the Beavers have developed another trend under coach Mike Riley: inconsistency. They sometimes look incredibly formidable, and always seem to have the most dangerous upset potential in the Pac-10: see last year's win over USC and this year's over Cal. But when they lose, they tend to lose big, often appearing turnover- and penalty-prone and lacking organization. They were hammered at both Cincinnati (34-3) and USC (24-3), managing just a field goal in each game. Even former QB Derek Anderson, who is now experiencing success in the NFL, was wildly erratic in his play and often doomed his team with too many turnovers. This year's starter Sean Canfield has kept the "tradition" alive, throwing for 1,593 yards but just eight touchdowns against 14 interceptions. But the Beavers have a more balanced attack than do the Terrapins, as they also feature a 1,000-yard rusher in Yvenson Bernard, who has 1,037 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. If the Beavers can avoid the big mistake on offense and their defense can slow the Maryland rushing attack, they should be in good position to win and cover the spread.

General Notes: The Emerald Bowl is the first-ever meeting between the two programs. The Beavers are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games, and 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games. The Terrapins are 2-5 ATS in their last seven non-conference games, and 1-4 ATS in their last five as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points.

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Emerald Bowl

Oregon State (8-4) vs. Maryland Terrapins (6-6)

The Emerald Bowl is a bowl game still trying to find it’s place among the rest of the field, but the Pac-10-ACC match-up usually provides for an interesting game. Last year, Florida State sneaked out a solid victory over UCLA and the Pac-10 will be searching for a little revenge this year.

Sizing Up Oregon State: A shoulder injury to starting quarterback Sean Canfield has opened the door for Lyle Moevao to get the nod as the number one signal-caller for this game. Canfield is not expected to play, but Moevao has the Beavers on a three-game winning streak and enters this game with a lot of momentum on his shoulders. Moevao isn’t a prolific passer, but he gets the job done. Senior running back Yvenson Bernard is the wildcard in this game. Bernard missed the season finale against Oregon with a knee injury and he is expected back for this game – but it’s no sure thing. If Bernard can’t go, Matt Sieverson will get the carries. This offense will lean heavily on the running game and an efficient game out of Moevao to win this game. Defensively, the Beavers have been a key reason why this team has turned things around since a 2-3 start. Behind a solid front seven, this team ranks third in the NCAA in sacks, 12th in total defense and second against the run.

Sizing Up Maryland: Considering head coach Ralph Friedgen is known as an offensive guru, he has to be a little disappointed with how his team stacked up this year. Quarterback Chris Turner showed promise, but his bouts of inconsistency are a concern. The one-two punch of running backs Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore are solid, but they will find running lanes tough to find against a stout Beaver defense. The key to this game could be the passing of Turner. In order to open up some rushing lanes for Ball/Lattimore, Turner needs to hit a few deep passes to receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey is the team’s top deep threat and finding him on a deep pass or two would help the Terrapin rushing attack. Defensively, the Terrapins ranked 45th against the run and 47th against the pass. Additionally, the Terrapins did a good job of limiting teams in terms of points on the board, as only four opponents have scored more than 30 points in a game this season. Look for defense to stuff the Beaver rushing attack, while forcing Moevao to make mistakes in the passing game.

Who Should Shine: Look for a relatively low-scoring game, with defense controlling the tempo. The Beaver defense should be able to limit the Terrapin running game, while Bernard will be a solid fantasy play – assuming he’s healthy.

The Pick: Although this game won’t get much national attention, this should be a relatively even match-up. If Bernard is able to play and be at or near 100 percent, we think the Beavers will be able to take this game. It’s Bernard’s last game in an Oregon State uniform – he’ll play and be successful. Beavers 23 Terrapins 20.

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Emerald Bowl: Maryland Terrapins vs. Oregon State Beavers

- The Maryland Terrapins have a reputation for coming up big against tough opponents. They try to break the Oregon State Beavers three-game bowl win streak December 28 at AT&T Park in the Emerald Bowl.

Oddsmakers currently have the Beavers listed as 5½-point favorites versus the Terrapins, while the game's total has not yet been posted.

Lance Ball ran for two touchdowns to lead the Terrapins to a 37-0 win over the N.C. State Wolfpack last time out, as 2-point underdogs. The 37 points were UNDER the posted total of 47.

Keon Lattimore also ran for two touchdowns in the win, and Obi Egekeze booted three field goals for Maryland.

Oregon State's James Rodgers ran for a 25-yard touchdown in overtime in a 38-31 win last time out, coming in as 1.5-point road underdogs. The 69 points scored were OVER the posted total of 41.

Lyle Moevao was 20-for-37 for 245 yards and a pick, while Matt Sieverson had 27 carries for 141 yards and a score for the Beavers.

Team records:
Maryland: 6-6 SU, 4-6-1 ATS
Oregon State: 8-4 SU, 7-4 ATS

Maryland most recently:
When playing in December are 2-0
When playing on grass are 5-5
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the conference are 8-2

Oregon State most recently:
When playing in December are 5-4
When playing on grass are 5-5
After outgaining opponent are 5-5
When playing outside the conference are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Maryland's last 6 games
Maryland is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games
Maryland is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Oregon State is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
Oregon State is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Oregon State's last 6 games

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MARYLAND vs. OREGON STATE (Emerald)...Coaches with San Diego Charger connections. OSU really got bad deal when Arizona State didn’t make BCS, as Beavers would have gone to Holiday Bowl otherwise. Riley has won his three bowl games as OSU HC, although didn’t cover in Sun LY vs. Mizzou. Ralph has also won his last 3 bowls, and has covered each, although he’s only 9-16 vs. line overall last 25 on board (4-7 TY). Tech edge-OSU, based on team trends.

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Game Preview for Maryland vs Oregon State

GAME NOTES: The Oregon State Beavers are in the postseason for the seventh time in the last nine seasons, as they take on the Maryland Terrapins in the Emerald Bowl. The Beavers experienced peaks and valleys this year in and out of the Pac-10. Mike Riley's team knocked off a pair of nationally-ranked teams in 2007 and closed out the regular season with three straight wins, finishing with an 8-4 overall record, including a 6-3 conference mark. OSU is making its 11th postseason appearance, going 6-4 all-time. The team has won three straight bowls games, including a thrilling 39-38 victory over Missouri in last year's Sun Bowl. Ralph Friedgen's Terrapins needed two wins in the last three games to finish 6-6. The team really struggled in ACC play, finishing a disappointing 3-5, but did play perhaps its best game of the year in the regular-season finale, earning postseason eligibility with a 37-0 shutout of NC State. This is the 22nd bowl appearance for Maryland (9-10-2) which has won three straight bowl games, including a 24-7 win over Purdue in last year's Champs Sports Bowl. This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the gridiron. Formerly the San Francisco Bowl (2002-03), this postseason event took on the Emerald Bowl name in 2004.

The injury bug ran rampant on the offensive side of the ball for Maryland this year. Only three players started all 12 games in 2007. The team averaged 350.6 yards of total offense per game overall, but over the final three games, the unit boosted that number up to 424.3 yards. The ground attack, which generates 136.7 yards per game, is spearheaded by the rushing duo of Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball. The two tailbacks have combined for 378 carries in the regular season, amassing over 1,500 yards and a whopping 25 TDs. Sophomore QB Chris Turner played in 10 games this year and will be the starter in this bowl game. On the season, Turner has completed just over 64 percent of his passes, for 1,753 yards, with five TDs. The passing game didn't find the end zone much in 2007, with just seven scores. Darrius Heyward-Bey has clearly been the top WR for the Terps, leading the team in receptions (48) and receiving yards (687), with two TDs.

The Maryland defense for the most part, has done a good job this season, limiting foes to just 21.6 ppg, on 355.9 yards of offense. The linebacking corps is the strength of this unit, led by the play of juniors Erin Henderson and Dave Philistin. Both players rank among the nation's top tacklers. Henderson finished the regular season as the top tackler on the team, with an impressive 122 total stops. He also led the team in TFLs (11), with one sack, one INT and four fumble recoveries. Philistin was right behind with 121 tackles, adding six TFLs and one INT. The pass rush lacked consistency week-in and week-out. The top player in that area has been senior DT Dre Moore. The 6-4, 311-pounder gets great push up the middle, collecting 59 total tackles, with 8.5 TFLs and six sacks on the year. Junior end Jeremy Navarre (35 tackles, 5.0 TFLs, 4.5 sacks) also can get after opposing QBs.

Oregon State has relied heavily on its ground game this year. The rushing attack has delivered for the most part, churning out a healthy 166.6 yards per game, on 4.1 yards per carry. Senior tailback Yvenson Bernard missed two games this season, but has returned to the lineup and has really stabilized the ground game. He is averaging 103.7 yards per game in 2007, having amassed 1,037 yards and 12 TDs. Sophomore QB Sean Canfield (1,593 yards passing, with eight TDs and 14 INTs) has struggled under center, making way for fellow sophomore Lyle Moevao to get the nod in this game. However, Moevao hasn't really produced either, throwing for 836 yards in eight games, with two TDs and six picks. With inconsistency at the quarterback position, it is no wonder that no receiver has stood up and put up great numbers. Anthony Brown comes into this game as the top pass catcher, having grabbed just 39 balls, for 550 yards and one TD.

The Beavers had one of the top defenses in the Pac-10 this year. The team yielded 23.3 ppg in 2007, on just 313.0 yards of total offense (second in the Pac-10). OSU was particularly stingy in handling opposing rushing attacks, ranking second nationally in rush defense, allowing a mere 74.9 ypg, on just 2.1 ypc. Other areas that Oregon State's defense excelled in 2007 were getting after opposing QBs and forcing turnovers. The team recorded a whopping 42 sacks in 12 games and forced 32 turnovers, including 20 interceptions. There are playmakers throughout this defense, starting in the linebacking corps. Senior LB Derrick Doggett has had a phenomenal campaign, leading the team in tackles (85), TFLs (13) and INTs (4). He also had two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery to his credit. Junior ends Victor Butler (24 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks) and Slade Norris (16 tackles, 10 TFLs, 9.0 sacks) and senior end Dorian Smith (37 tackles, 9.0 TFLs, 6.0 sacks) have done a lot of damage in opposing backfields. Cornerbacks Brandon Hughes (55 tackles, two INTs), Gerard Lawson (21 tackles, two INTs) and Keenan Lewis (15 tackles, three INTs) are always around the ball, with safety Al Afalava (61 tackles, two fumble recoveries) supporting both the run and the pass.

The Oregon State defense likes to get up-field and make plays. If the team can continue to force turnovers and shorten the field against Maryland, the Beavers should be able to win this game, behind the steady running of Benson.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon State 27, Maryland 20

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EMERALD BOWL (at San Francisco)

Maryland (6-6, 4-7 ATS) vs. Oregon State (8-4, 7-4 ATS)

The Terrapins, who needed a win in their regular-season finale to gain bowl-eligibility, travel across the country to take on a surging Oregon State squad at AT&T Park in the first-ever meeting between these schools.

Maryland needed a 3f7-0 rout of North Carolina State on Nov. 24 as a 1½-point road underdog to earn its second straight postseason berth. RBs Da’Rel Scott (8 carries, 89 yards) and Lance Ball (18 carries, 78 yards, 2 TDs) combined for 167 of Maryland’s 249 rushing yards as the Terps controlled the clock for nearly 38 minutes. QB Chris Turner was an efficient 19 of 24 for 206 yards, and the Maryland defense allowed just 250 yards.

Oregon State closed the regular season on a 3-0 SU and ATS roll, including besting archrival Oregon 38-31 in double-overtime as a one-point road pup on Dec. 1. Oregon State outgained the Ducks 459-339, as RB Matthew Sieverson had 27 carries for 142 yards and a TD, while WR James Rodgers (5 carries, 45 yards) scored the winning TD on a 25-yard run.

The straight-up winner went 11-0 ATS in Oregon State’s 11 lined games this season and 10-0 ATS in Maryland’s final 10 contests.

The Terrapins are in the postseason for the fifth time in seven years and are making their 22nd bowl appearance overall. They’ve won and covered in their last three bowl games, including a 24-7 rout of Purdue as a one-point ‘dog in last year’s Champ Sports Bowl.

The Beavers, who edged Missouri 39-38 in last year’s Sun Bowl as a 3½-point chalk, are also on a 3-0 bowl run (2-1 ATS), and this is their seventh postseason game in the last nine years.

Maryland faced eight bowl-caliber teams this season and went only 3-5 SU and ATS. Maryland is also on negative ATS runs of 9-16 overall, 2-5 in non-conference play and 1-6 following a SU win.

Oregon State closed the regular season on a 6-1 SU and ATS run. The Beavers are on further positive ATS streaks of 4-1 following a SU win, 4-1 in bowl games, 15-6-1 as a favorite and 37-17 following a spread-cover.

After Oregon State QB Sean Canfield suffered a shoulder injury, Lyle Moevao took over and guided the Beavers on their late-season run. Against the Ducks, he was 20 of 37 for 245 yards, with one INT.

Maryland is averaging 24.9 points and 350.4 yards per game on offense (203.1 passing, 147.3 rushing). But the Terps allow per-game averages of 21.6 points and 355.9 total yards.

Oregon State’s offense has been efficient, putting up 28.4 points and 370.3 total yards per outing (203.8 passing, 166.6 rushing). But the Beavers’ defense has been the key, ranking 11th in the nation in total yards allowed (313.1 ypg) and second in the nation in rushing yards allowed (75 ypg). However, Oregon State gave up 29.7 ppg in six road contests, going 3-3 SU and ATS.

The under was 5-1 in Maryland’s final six games. However, the Beavers topped the total in their final three contests, and the over was 4-1 in their last five road games.


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Looking for bite with the underdog Terps

College football bettors understand the risks of falling in love with favorites. Every weekend in the regular season was rife with upsets. Stanford’s upset of USC as a 40-point road underdog was proof that there’s no sure thing in college football.

That’s what makes Friday’s Emerald Bowl more intriguing than non-betting fans might suspect. The Oregon State Beavers are 4 ½-point favorites over the Maryland Terrapins according to the betting board, but they’d be even heavier favorites if lines were based on popular opinion in the media.

I haven’t checked every newspaper or website in the country before writing this, so I’m sure someone has pegged the Terps as a winner. I just haven’t found him yet.

I understand the love for OSU. The Beavers finished the season on a 6-1 run, both straight-up (SU) and against the spread (ATS). When I first saw the opening bowl game numbers, I put Oregon State among my top five bets of bowl season.

But I’m suspicious when everyone takes the same stance. So in the name of playing devil’s advocate, here are a half-dozen reasons why Maryland could cover the spread as an underdog on Friday night.

1. The Terps are capable of big things

Maryland’s 6-6 SU record screams “We’re mediocre!” and its 4-7 ATS mark says something far nastier. But on those four occasions the Terps decided to turn it on, they looked fantastic.

They beat Rutgers and Boston College when both were Top 10 teams, smothered Georgia Tech at home, and ended the season with a 37-0 shellacking at North Carolina State.

2. We’ve seen Oregon State’s late-season run before

The Beavers ended the 2006 campaign on a 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS spurt before heading to the Sun Bowl as a 3 ½-point favorite. Oregon State beat the Missouri Tigers in El Paso, but the 39-38 final score means they didn’t cover the spread.

3. We’ve also seen this Emerald Bowl setup before

Last year’s San Francisco treat paired another streaking Pac-10 school (the UCLA Bruins, fresh off an upset at USC) against another .500 ACC opponent (the Florida State Seminoles, who went 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS in the second half). Oddsmakers pegged the Bruins as a 3 ½-point favorite, but FSU won by 17.

4. The Fridge is plugged in during bowl season

The Beavers are 3-0 SU in bowl games under head coach Mike Riley, but blew a payday last year. Ralph Friedgen’s team, on the other hand, has been a worry-free bet over its last three bowl appearances.

Maryland won the 2002 Peach Bowl 30-3 as a pick ‘em, the 2003 Gator Bowl 41-7 as a 4 ½-point favorite and last year’s Champs Sports Bowl 24-7 as a 1 ½-point underdog.

5. Oregon State kills the run, but that’s OK

The Beavers ranked No. 2 in the nation in allowing only 75 rushing yards per game this year. That should be a concern for Maryland, with running backs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball as its top two weapons. But the Terps excelled against the only team ahead of OSU on the run defense list earlier this year.

Ball posted 109-yard rushing day and the Terrapins reached the end zone twice on the ground when they upset Boston College on Nov. 10.

6. The lower the score, the more attractive the points

Both Oregon State and Maryland will look to assert the run on Friday night, especially with a decent shot of rain in the Bay Area. The quarterbacks for the Beavers and Terps, Lyle Moevao and Chris Turner, respectively, are both relatively new to the starting role and neither head coach wants to rely on a young arm for a victory. That should make the Emerald Bowl a grind-it-out affair, which makes the 4 ½ points bettors get with Maryland enticing.

I still like a lot about OSU as Friday approaches. The Beavers’ outside linebackers and rush ends kill opponents with quickness, causing turnovers and frequently making plays in the backfield. Star running back Yvenson Bernard will play after surgery on his knee which caused him to miss the Beavers’ season finale. And Moevao, if nothing else, has limited turnovers since becoming a starter.

But I’m not nearly as confident in Oregon State to carry the day as I was two weeks ago, which makes the Emerald Bowl must-see TV, even on a Friday night.

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