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Going Bowling: U-M, MSU and Central Michigan gear up for postseason matchups

Associated Press • Dec 3, 2017 at 11:59 PM

After Ohio State was left out of the College Football Playoff, all the predicted Big Ten Conference bowl games were shifted. 

Here’s a look at where Michigan State, Michigan, and Central Michigan will be competing this postseason.

 

No. 16 MSU to face No. 18 Washington State in Holiday Bowl

EAST LANSING (AP) — While the college football world debated endlessly over whether the Playoff Committee got it right putting Alabama in the four-team field over Ohio State, that move had a direct effect on Michigan State's bowl positioning.

Michigan State (9-3), which finished No. 16 in the College Football Playoff rankings, will take on Washington State (9-3) in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Diego. It will be the Spartans' first appearance in the Holiday Bowl and the eighth meeting with the Cougars. The last meeting came in 1977.

Kickoff is at 9 p.m.

Most projections had Michigan State playing in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando. However, those projections all assumed the Big Ten champion would be in the playoff field.

Ohio State's win over Wisconsin in the conference title game on Saturday apparently knocked the entire conference out of the playoff, which bumped the Badgers down to the Orange Bowl. According to the Big Ten's agreement, if a conference team is in the Orange Bowl that means there can't be one in the Citrus Bowl.

The next bowl selecting was the Outback Bowl, which opted to go with Michigan (8-4), despite the fact Michigan State had a better record and a head-to-head victory over the Wolverines.

However, it must be noted, the Big Ten does not require its bowl partners to follow a strict pecking order when selecting teams. That left the door open for Michigan to end up in the Outback Bowl and Michigan State headed to the Holiday Bowl.

 

U-M to play South Carolina in Outback Bowl

Michigan is headed to Tampa to play in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.

The Wolverines (8-4) will face South Carolina (8-4), it was announced Sunday during the official bowl pairings show on ESPN. The game will kick off at noon on ESPN2.

This will be Michigan's third-straight bowl game in Florida under coach Jim Harbaugh. Michigan defeated Florida, 41-7, in the Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, 2016, and fell to Florida State, 33-32, in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30, 2016.

"We are honored to represent our University and the Big Ten Conference in the tradition-laden Outback Bowl in Tampa," Harbaugh said in a statement. "Our players and staff are excited to face an excellent SEC opponent and look forward to the competition on New Year's Day."

Michigan State, ranked 16th in the CFP rankings, was projected to head to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, but after the four-team playoff shook out, with Alabama getting the fourth spot ahead of Ohio State, the bowl dominoes began to fall. The Orange Bowl is required to take the Big Ten's top-ranked non-champion, so Wisconsin is heading to Miami. With this wrinkle, the Citrus Bowl could not select a Big Ten team.

Michigan was projected for weeks to be headed to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 28, but now Michigan State (9-3) will play there against Washington State.

Part of Michigan's appeal is strong ticket sales and television ratings — the Michigan-Ohio State game on Nov. 25 drew Fox's best-metered market rating ever for a regular-season college game with a 6.7 rating. Michigan's night game at Penn State on ABC on Oct. 21 had the best overnight rating across all networks. The Michigan-Michigan State night game on Oct. 7 at Michigan Stadium also was on ABC and was the highest-rated college football game in week six across all networks.

Michigan is coming off a 31-20 loss to Ohio State in the final regular-season game, while South Carolina is coming off a 34-10 loss to Clemson. Michigan and South Carolina shared one common opponent, Florida. The Wolverines won the season-opener against the Gators, 33-17, and the Gamecocks also beat Florida, 28-20.

This is the second straight bowl game for South Carolina, in its second season under coach Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks were 6-6 in the 2016 regular season before losing to USF in the Birmingham Bowl. In 2015 prior to Muschamp's arrival, South Carolina was 3-9 in 2015.

Tickets for the Outback Bowl will be available for purchase on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday at mgoblue.com/tickets and at the Michigan athletic ticket office (866-296-MTIX or 734-764-0247).

 

Red-hot CMU gets Wyoming in Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Central Michigan will be the lone state team from the Mid-American Conference to compete in a bowl game during the holiday season.

The Chippewas (8-4, 6-2 MAC West) won their final five games, their longest winning streak since their last MAC championship season in 2009, and will play Wyoming (7-5) of the Mountain West Conference in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at 4 p.m. Dec. 22 in Boise, Idaho.

Central Michigan and Wyoming rank first and second nationally in turnovers forced. The Chippewas have 31 takeaways (19 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries) compared to 30 for Wyoming (16 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries).

Central Michigan started its winning streak with a 56-9 rout of Ball State, then came back from a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat rival Western Michigan, 35-28, in Kalamazoo Nov. 1.

The CMU-WMU outcome had the teams going in opposite directions. The Broncos failed to rebound, dropping three of their final four games to finish 6-6 and miss a bowl after winning the MAC championship last season with a 13-0 regular season record before a Cotton Bowl loss to Wisconsin.

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl trip to Boise will be a big prize for Michigan transfer Shane Morris, who threw for 2,908 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season. Morris has thrown for 1,141 yards and 14 touchdowns with just two interceptions during the recent winning streak.

Morris threw for 247 yards and three scores in Central Michigan's regular-season finale, rallying the Chippewas back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to defeat Northern Illinois, 31-24.

The Chippewas have also gotten their running game going with sophomore Jonathan Ward rushing for 625 yards and seven touchdowns the last five games, while averaging more than seven yards a carry.

Wyoming will enter the bowl game with a two-game losing streak, with setbacks to Fresno State, 13-7, and San Jose State, 20-17.

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who is projected to be a high draft pick in next year's NFL draft, suffered a shoulder injury in the team's last win, a 28-14 victory at Air Force on Nov. 11. Allen had thrown for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns before the injury, helping lead Wyoming to a 7-3 record.

Without Allen in the lineup, Wyoming struggled as San Jose State ended a 10-game losing streak in the season finale by forcing a pair of turnovers, both coming on interceptions from Allen's backup, junior Nick Smith.

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