2008 Humanitarian Preview - Nev. vs. Maryland
Nevada's Colin Kaepernick & UM's DaRel Scott
Nevada's Colin Kaepernick & UM's DaRel Scott
Posted Dec 29, 2008

Nevada vs. Maryland - The 2008 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl Preview & Prediction

2008 Humanitarian Bowl

Maryland (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5)

Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

- 2008 Humanitarian Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

National Rankings
Maryland Nevada
Total Offense
76th  341.92 ypg 5th  510.58 ypg
Total Defense
58th  355 ypg 90th  395, 58 ypg
Scoring Offense
100th 20.08 ppg 12th  37.83 ppg
Scoring Defense
36th  21.42 ppg 98th  31.5 ppg
Run Offense
72nd  134.5 ypg 2nd  291.42 ypg
Run Defense
72nd  149.42 ypg 3rd  74.5 ypg
Pass Offense
65th  207.42 ypg 52nd  219.17 ypg
Pass Defense
56th  205.58 ypg 119th  321.08 ypg
Turnover Margin
99th  -0.67 55th  0.08
Delaware W 14-7
at MTSU L 24-14
California W 35-27
EMU W 51-24
at Clemson W 20-17
at Virginia L 31-0
Wake Forest W 26-0
NC State  W 27-24
at Va Tech L 23-13
No Carolina W 17-15
Florida State L 37-3
at BC L 28-21
Grambling W 49-13
Texas Tech L 35-19
at Missouri L 69-17
at UNLV W 49-27
at Idaho W 49-14
NMSU L 48-45
Utah St W 44-17
at Hawaii L 38-31
at Fresno W 41-28
SJSU W 41-17
Boise State L 41-34
at La Tech W 35-31
Position Ratings
relative to each other
M 5 highest
1 lowest
2.5 Quarterbacks 4.5
3.5 RBs 4.5
3.5 Receivers 3.5
3 O Line 4
3.5 D Line 4
3.5 Linebackers 4
3 Secondary 1.5
3.5 Spec Teams 2
3.5 Coaching 4

By Richard Cirminiello 

When Maryland dropped its final two games to Florida State and Boston College, it lost a chance to win the ACC Atlantic and earned the ACC booby prize—a trip to ice-cold Boise to play in the Humanitarian Bowl.

The Terp brass will say all the right things, but no one from the conference is ever happy with this ticket. While other schools are getting beach time, they’ll be layering. Plus, the WAC opponent always has more to gain in these match ups. It didn’t have to be this way. For a time, Maryland controlled its own destiny in the division and even made a cameo in the Top 25, but you can hold things together with tape and spit for only so long. The inconsistency of the offense finally caught up to the Terrapins, who drifted back to a level of mediocrity befitting their overall talent level. Maryland struggled away from home, going 1-4 and losing to Middle Tennessee State. The H-Bowl takes place 2,378 miles from College Park.

Nevada is embarking on its school-record fourth straight bowl invitation behind a quintet of sophomore all-stars, three on offense and two on defense. Yeah, the future is looking bright in Reno. Although the Wolf Pack had problems stringing wins together and defending the pass, it did manage to finish in an impressive second-place tie in the WAC and played respectably well against Texas Tech and Boise State. Chris Ault’s pistol offense, which used to be predicated on the passing game, relied extensively on a running attack that averaged almost 300 yards a game. No matter what happens later in the month, expectations are going to be lofty for Nevada in 2009. With a win over an ACC team, any ACC team, they’ll be soaring.               

Players to watch: Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick and RB Vai Taua were nothing short of brilliant running the zone read to perfection. Kaepernick is one of just four quarterbacks in the country to rush for more than 1,000 yards, while still throwing for 19 touchdowns and just five interceptions. When Louisiana Tech crowded the box on him in the finale, he calmly threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns. A tall, lanky athlete with a gigantic stride, he’s like a gazelle when he gets into the open field. Taua has been a revelation for a program that didn’t even have him listed on the two-deep when the season began. After injuries thinned out the backfield, he promptly rushed for 1,420 yards and 14 touchdowns on 213 carries. Maryland’s problems with athletic quarterbacks will force linebackers Alex Wujciak, Dave Philistin, and Moise Fokou, the team’s top three tacklers, to spy Kaepernick whenever he tucks and runs.

If you’ve yet to see Wolf Pack defenders Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch, you’ve missed two of the most disruptive defensive ends in the country. In just its second season of work, the pair has combined for 33.5 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks. Basped, in particular, has shown a penchant for taking up squatter’s rights in opposing backfields and blowing up gameplans with his speed and determination. The Terps have a veteran offensive line, but it’s a pretty stationary group that can be beat around the corner.

The most obvious way to bring Nevada to its knees is by testing their corners. The Pack is last in the country in pass defense, allowing 29 touchdown passes and 321 yards a game. That’s good news for Maryland QB Chris Turner and his favorite target Darrius Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey’s production, 38 catches for 561 yards and five touchdowns, doesn’t do justice to his ability to stretch a defense and quiet a crowd. His combination of size and blazing speed is like nothing the Nevada defense has seen this year. A month away from the game has been good for RB Da’Rel Scott, who was dinged up a lot in his first season as the workhorse. When fresh, he’s the type of slasher who can move the chains on a Pack D that was unexpectedly stout against the run.     

Maryland will win if... Turner has his best game of the season. He’s not a prolific passer, partly because he’s never asked to be. That ought to change in Boise. The Terps could get dragged into a track meet by a Nevada offense that’s gone over 40 points seven times in 2008. The most logical way for Maryland to keep pace is by allowing Turner to air it out at the expense of the feeble Pack pass defense. Not only will Heyward-Bey have a huge afternoon, but TE Dan Gronkowski and receivers Danny Oquendo and Torrey Smith should get into the act as well.    

Nevada will win if... the offensive line allows Kaepernick to be Kaepernick. When the sophomore is making plays, the Wolf Pack offense is extremely difficult to stop. His performance versus Louisiana Tech was pivotal because it reminded other coaches that he’ll take whatever the defense gives him. If Maryland shows a normal base set, Kaepernick and Taua will roll on the ground. If the Terps start pressing up safeties Terrell Skinner and Jeff Allen, the quarterback won’t hesitate connecting with receivers Marko Mitchell and Chris Wellington. It’s a fool-proof system, provided the line does its job up front.   

What will happen: Man-for-man, Nevada isn’t as far behind Maryland as some might think. Whatever talent gap that does exist will be narrowed by the Pack’s greater drive to win this game and shorter drive to the stadium. Kaepernick and Taua will continue to crank out yards within an offense that shows no signs of being stopped. Once the Terps fall behind, they’ll begin to realize just how cold it is out and how far they are from home. Any chance of a come-from-behind victory at that point will be gone.  
Line: Nevada -1 ... CFN Prediction: Nevada 35 ... Maryland 28 

- 2008 Humanitarian Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More