Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spartans Give FSU Long Shot

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spartans Give FSU Long Shot

Article excerpt

If decorum prevails, Michigan State should get thank-you cards

this week bearing Gainesville and Tallahassee postmarks.

And while changes were brewing for the bowl fortunes of the

University of Florida and Florida State, the Toyota Gator Bowl

may be headed for the status quo of last year's North

Carolina-West Virginia game.

Those developments stemmed from Michigan State's surprising

49-14 pounding of fourthranked Penn State yesterday, plus three

Big East games over the weekend.

Sorting through the muddle shows that No. 5 Florida State

(10-1) and No. 7 Florida (9-2) can still better their

post-season lot, given Penn State's likely free fall out of the

top 10 when the polls are released today.

Here is one scenario, under current won-loss records and before

next week's conference championship games in the SEC (No. 3

Tennessee vs. No. 13 Auburn) and the Big 12 (No. 2 Nebraska vs.

No. 15 Texas A&M):

The Rose Bowl is set with top-ranked Big Ten champion Michigan

(11-0) vs. 10th-ranked Pac-10 champion Washington State (10-1).

Assuming favored Nebraska (11-0) and Tennessee (10-1) win next

week, they would play in the Orange Bowl, which has the top two

selections in the Bowl Alliance draft.

The Sugar Bowl has the third pick and will mull over FSU,

Florida and Big East champion Syracuse. The Seminoles and Gators

have played in two of the past three Sugar Bowls but the

committee is more likely to take Florida, given its stronger

ties to the SEC (whose champion had an automatic berth in the

game prior to the current Alliance) and FSU's spotty ticket

sales in the 1995 and 1997 games.

Fiesta Bowl officials, picking next, already have gone on

record as favoring the best western team possible to boost

ticket sales. That's either Pac-10 runner-up UCLA (9-2) or Big

12 Northern Division runnerup Kansas State (10-1) -- which sold

more than 40,000 tickets to last year's Cotton Bowl. …

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