Going Bowling in Florida

In the end, money was the determining factor, not the records. The simple truth to the matter is that Clemson will buy tickets and Boston College won't.

And as a result, the Tigers were extended the invitation to the Champs Sports Bowl in sunny Orlando, while the Eagles were sent packing to frigid Boise, Idaho, for the holidays.

"Certainly, Clemson, historically, has been a great travel team," Champs Sports Bowl executive director Tom Mickle said. "That never hurts, obviously. The mission of our organization is to bring economic development to the community and Clemson has been to Orlando many times previously and traveled very well.

"They didn't do quite as well the last time they were here (in 2002), but that was a Dec. 23, night game and I think that really impacted the travel that day. We felt their historical travel record was good and obviously that helps a lot."

The Tigers (7-4) will face Colorado at 5 p.m., on Dec. 27. Tickets are on sale for $50 each. Mickle is counting on plenty of Clemson fans showing since it's expected that the Buffaloes will sell only about 3,000 tickets.

"This is our fifth year with the Champs Sports Bowl and I think the most any team has sold was about 8,500 tickets and that was N.C. State in the first year," Mickle said. "If we get above that we'll be happy. Hopefully (Clemson) will blow that through the roof, but we'd be excited just to have them use their ticket allotment. Each school gets about 12,000 tickets. We're hopeful Clemson will be able to do that and maybe some more."

Of course, the strong finish by the Tigers also played a key part in their invitation. For the third consecutive year, Clemson won five of its last six games to finish the season.

Numbers wise, the Eagles (8-3) should be headed to the Sunshine State. They are ranked higher than Clemson, have a better record than Clemson and actually won at Clemson. But the only number that counts is tickets sold, which Boston College was anticipated to be some 3,000 to 5,000 behind the Tigers.

Another important figure is the $862,500 payout the Tigers will receive. That's still higher than the $750,000 the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte and the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise each pays.

"I think the ACC just asked for a fair evaluation," Mickle said. "They really didn't pressure us at all other than to give B.C. a fair look and I feel like we lived up to our end of the bargain. We really didn't have any severe pressure at all from the conference."

The Buffaloes are coming off of a 70-3 waxing by Texas Saturday in the Big 12 title game. In fact, Colorado (7-5) has been outscored 100-6 in its last two games and 130-22 in its last three.

That's quite the contrast from a team that started the season 7-2, which included a 41-20 win over Texas A&M.

"I would imagine that (coach) Gary (Barnett) is going to have their full attention," Bowden said. "Anytime you put most competitors like he and his team with their backs against the wall, they usually come out fighting. … If anything, I would just as soon face Colorado coming off a win than a loss like that."

While Bowden said he really isn't at all familiar with Colorado, Barnett said he has seen the Tigers play a few times. The two teams had common opponents in Texas A&M and Miami and with the Buffaloes having played both of them after Clemson did, they saw both game films.

"I'm pretty familiar," Barnett said. "I've watched a lot of ACC. The Thursday night games give the ACC a lot of exposure that we get to see, so I'm fairly familiar."

Other than the increase of $112,500 between the two bowls, the main reason Bowden is excited to be headed to Orlando instead of Charlotte is the fact that his squad gets to play a team with a well known name.

There aren't too many people that can tell the difference between South Florida, which will play against N.C. State in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and Central Florida.

"Both are very talented teams and qualified to play in a bowl game, but just based on tradition and history, what Colorado brings to the table from a national perspective just makes it a little more marketable," Bowden said. "South Florida is surely a qualified team, but it does not the tradition or history or recent success as what Colorado has had."

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