Four for Outback, Three for Champs

If Michigan State can win three of its last four games, it could be heading to Florida for the holidays. The Spartans and Purdue Boilermakers appear to be the favorites for the Champs Sports Bowl to be played on December 29 in Orlando.

EAST LANSING - If Michigan State can win three of its last four games, it could be heading to Florida for the holidays. The Spartans and Purdue Boilermakers appear to be the favorites for the Champs Sports Bowl to be played on December 29 in Orlando.

That could result in an exciting matchup for Spartans fans with the prospect of the Green-and-White facing a team like the Miami Hurricanes or Virginia Tech Hokies.

If the Spartans win three, but lose to the Boilermakers, Bowl organizers would likely take Purdue, sending MSU to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, AZ according to sources close to the situation. That might result in a grudge rematch against the Nebraska Cornhuskers or a first time matchup with the Baylor Bears.

But the Spartans have an even more favorable scenario if they run the table and win all four remaining contests.

They could be invited to the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2007 if they sport an 8-4 record, on the strength of wins over bowl bound Purdue and Penn State. That could match the Spartans up against a top SEC team from the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee or LSU.

However, things become much bleaker if MSU loses two of the last four.

If that were the case, the Spartans face the prospect of playing at Ford Field in the dreaded Motor City Bowl.

Bowl chairman George Perles, the former Spartans head man, has said having MSU in the game would be his dream scenario, but its a nightmare one for the Spartans.

A 6-6 mark wouldn't likely be enough to save John L. Smith's job and a loss in the resulting bowl game could doom MSU to its third consecutive losing season.

Second, bowl games were always meant as a reward to a warm weather destination for cold weather teams. That's the reason every other bowl game, save the Motor City Bowl is played in a warm weather climate.

The NCAA gave Detroit a bowl game as a concession for the great sponsorship the Big Three automobile companies provide. MSU players wouldn't even get away from home with a trip to Detroit.

Third, a game against the MAC Champion, very possibly a Central Michigan team that has beaten MSU twice in its history, looms as the ultimate humiliation if the Spartans were to fall for a third time and in a bowl game no less.

MSU would be obligated by the Big Ten to play in the game, but you couldn't blame them if they wanted to turn down an invitation under those circumstances.


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