Run and Shoot: Champs Sports Bowl Preview

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Champs Sports Bowl Preview

ORLANDO, Fla.- No, the Champs Sports Bowl isn't a BCS bowl, and there may not appear to be much on the line for Boston College (11-3) or Michigan State (7-5), but there is. The Eagles boast 17 fifth-year seniors who will enter today's match-up looking to get a win out of their last college football experience; the Spartans are heading into their first postseason appearance in four years. There's no "We wish we were somewhere else" mentality at the Citrus Bowl today- both of these squads are playing to win.
The Eagles, who finished second behind Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, are favored by 4 1/2, due in large part to their bona fide superstar of a quarterback, Matt Ryan. Heralded to be the best available quarterback in the 2008 NFL Draft, Ryan has been the backbone of the Eagles offense this year, and through injuries and disappointments, he has had an unfair load of expectations resting on his shoulders- but he has handled them remarkably well, throwing for 28 touchdowns and accumulating 4,258 yards on the season. Offensively, the other major factor in the Eagles' success has been in the hands of running back Andre Callender. While Ryan is capable of lighting up the field with his passing game, the Eagles will also need to establish the running game as early and as often as possible in order to put up major points. And, for a little extra motivation, with a win today Boston College will extend the country's longest active bowl winning streak to eight.
Michigan State finished eighth in the Big 10 and won just three conference games, but the Spartans lost all five of their games by a combined 28 points. First-year coach Mark Dantonio achieved success in terms of merely getting his team to the postseason, but suspensions will doubtlessly hurt the Spartans in Orlando. One of their most significant defensive players, leading pass rusher Jonal Saint-Dic, was ruled academically ineligible for today's game, and linebacker SirDarean Adams was axed due to suspension. Not only does Michigan State have to find away to stop Matt Ryan, but now they have to do it without the guys who gave them the best shot at doing so. Still, this game figures to be a close one, and most likely an offensive battle.

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