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Spartans To Face Boston College In Champs Sports Bowl
Travis Key and his teammates will attempt to slow down Boston College's Matt Ryan, who finished the regular season ranked fifth in the NCAA in passing yards (327.5 ypg.)
Travis Key and his teammates will attempt to slow down Boston College's Matt Ryan, who finished the regular season ranked fifth in the NCAA in passing yards (327.5 ypg.)

Dec. 2, 2007

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State's players kept insisting they didn't care where they played in a bowl game, but their smiles told a different story Sunday night.

The Spartans (7-5) were thrilled at the news that they will face No. 14 Boston College (10-3) in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando, Fla. ESPN will televise the 5 p.m. matchup from the Florida Citrus Bowl.

"I've been smiling for 15 minutes nonstop," Michigan State safety and co-captain Travis Key said after the invitation was accepted by coach Mark Dantonio. "I want to thank (athletics director designate) Mr. Mark Hollis and Coach D. for giving us this opportunity."

Tony Martin, chairman of the bowl's selection committee, knew Michigan State's travel potential from the 2000 Florida Citrus Bowl, when the Spartans brought 25,000 fans to Central Florida and beat the Florida Gators 37-34.

"You all have worked the phones as well as any club I've worked with in my 27 years here," Martin said of Hollis' campaigning. "That always, always pays off."

Hollis sold the passion of Michigan State's following, with an average home attendance of 70,540 and the Florida residences of 15,000 Spartan alumni.

"We have an obligation to take 12,000 tickets," Hollis said of the $60 seats. "I see no problem achieving that with the people who'll travel from the state of Michigan and 10 strong alumni clubs in Florida. This team is 28 points from having an undefeated season."

Hollis also sold the concept of a two-for-one package for vacationing fans, with Michigan (8-4) meeting Florida (9-3) in the Capital One Bowl four days later in the same stadium.

"Well, we're going to Disney World," running back and co-captain Jehuu Caulcrick said with a smile. "None of us have ever been to a bowl game. So we've been wondering. Now, we know we'll be somewhere warm for Christmas."



Dantonio went to four bowl games in six years as a Michigan State assistant from 1995-2000, then coached on the Ohio State staff that won the BCS national championship two years later. But he said one of his best memories was starting a new century with the Spartans' win over the Gators in Orlando.

"That trip is very, very vivid in our minds," Dantonio said. "Our goal now is very simply to win eight games."

To do that, Michigan State (3-5 Big Ten) will have to beat a Boston College team that was 8-0 before a 2-3 finish.

"I've watched them play on TV a couple of times," Key said. "They have a great team. And Matt Ryan is a great quarterback. You have to be pretty good to be on the Heisman Trophy list the way he was. But I know our coaches will get us ready to go."

Boston College will be making a school-record ninth consecutive bowl appearance, despite losing the Atlantic Coast Conference title game to Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Hokies will represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

"I don't think you look at it as a consolation," BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said during a Sunday conference call with reporters. "I'm looking forward to taking my team to a bowl."

After falling one win short of the ACC championship game the previous two seasons, BC lost in its first attempt to make a BCS game as a member of the conference it joined after leaving the Big East following the 2004 season.

"There's not many teams in the country that have 10 wins," Jagodzinski said. "You get to play a conference that you don't get to play a lot. Our guys are very excited to play a good Michigan State team."


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