2007 Champs Sports Bowl - BC vs. Michigan St
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer
Posted Dec 25, 2007

2007 Champs Sports Bowl Preview - Boston College vs. Michigan State


Michigan State (7-5) vs. Boston College (10-3)

Dec. 28th, 5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

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National Rankings
Boston College Michigan St
Total Offense
27th  436.54 ypg 33rd  426.25 ypg
Total Defense
25th  331.38 ypg 40th  351.33 ypg
Scoring Offense
55th  28.62 ppg 24th  34.08 ppg
Scoring Defense
24th  20.31 ppg 59th  26.83 ppg
Run Offense
105th  106.85 ypg 22nd  200.33 ypg
Run Defense
1st  68.08 ypg 42nd  134.08 ypg
Pass Offense
6th  329.69 ypg 59th  225.92 ypg
Pass Defense
103rd  263.31 ypg 43rd  217.25 ypg
Turnover Margin
43rd  0.23 30th  0.42
Boston College
W Forest W 38-28
NC State W 37-17
at Ga Tech W 24-10

W 37-17
W 24-14
Bo Green W 55-24
at No Dame W 27-14
at Va Tech W 14-10

Florida State
L 27-17
at Maryland L 42-35
at Clemson W 20-17

Miami W 28-14
ACC Championship
Va Tech L 30-16
Michigan State
UAB W 55-18
B. Green W 28-17
Pitt W 17-13
at No Dame W 31-14
at Wisconsin L 37-34
Nwestern L 48-41 OT
Indiana W 52-27
at Ohio State L 24-17
at Iowa L 34-27 2OT
Michigan L 28-24
at Purdue W 48-31
Penn State W 35-31
Position Ratings
relative to each other
BC 5 highest
1 lowest
5 Quarterbacks 4
3.5 RBs 5
3.5 Receivers 4
4 O Line 3.5
4 D Line 4
4 Linebackers 3
3.5 Secondary 3
3 Spec Teams 3
4 Coaching 4

One team is looking to kickstart a new tradition, and another is looking to keep one going with a new head man.

Under Tom O'Brien, Boston College was the one of the nation's best bowl teams with seven straight wins. Now under Jeff Jagodzinski, and coming off one of the best seasons in school history, a win over the Spartans is a must or a year that had national title aspirations, and later a shot at the ACC title and a BCS game, would be a mega-disappointment.

This is Michigan State's first bowl game since 2003 and it's looking for a post-season win for the first time since 2001. By almost all measures, Mark Dantonio's first season in East Lansing has been a tremendous success, leading the program to its second winning season since 2001, but more importantly, the flake factor associated with the Spartans is gone after wins over Purdue and Penn State in the final two games to earn the solid bowl bid.

The teams are good, the coaches are fantastic, and there are plenty of exciting, talented players. Now the bowl has to break a recent trends and be decent.

In the bowl's 16-year history, only only three were decided by seven points or fewer with last year's Maryland 24-7 win over a lifeless Purdue one of the worst games of the 2006-2007 bowl season. The ACC has won the last four bowls by a combined score of 150 to 57, mostly because the league usually sends over a team that had a strong season and just missed out on something big, while the opponent has gotten in by the skin of its teeth. For Michigan State to buck the trend, its strength will have to be far better than BC's strength.

MSU isn't complicated. It likes to run the ball, hit the big play by running, and power the ball by running. This is hardly a one-dimensional team, but all things revolve around Javon Ringer, Jehuu Caulcrick and the ground attack, and if it's not rolling, the machine breaks down. That's where the matchup becomes interesting; BC has the nation's No. 1 run defense.

The Eagles struggled against the pass, at least when it came to giving up big yards, but it allowed a mere 68 yards per game thanks to a tough, veteran defensive front seven and a strong pass rush to help out the net yard totals. Despite a slew of injuries and other issues, BC plugs in the holes and keeps on producing. Of course, few recognized the defense with a likely first round draft pick slinging it around on offense.

In a relatively strong draft class for quarterbacks, BC's Matt Ryan has a chance to stand out with one final big performance. He might not be a top five pick, but he can certainly turn into the must-have first quarterback taken by tearing apart a strong MSU pass defense and proving he can handle a steady pass rush. He had one of the signature moments of the season leading the Eagles to a comeback win over Virginia Tech in the middle of the year, but after three losses in the final five games, he could use one more big performance and a win.

The Spartans were this close to having a special year, losing two overtime games along with a three-point heartbreaker at Wisconsin, a seven-point battle with Ohio State, and a four-point gut-wrenching heartbreaker to Michigan. All five losses were by seven points or fewer, and with the strong way the season ended, a win over BC would do wonders for the offseason and would set a good tone for 2008.

Players to watch: 6-2, 215-pound junior Devin Thomas was an afterthought in his first season with the Spartans after coming over from the JUCO ranks, and then he blew up under the new coaching staff with 75 catches for 1,226 yards and eight touchdowns with four 100-yard days in the final six and a three-touchdown performance to beat Penn State. He's big, fast, and has the look of a solid number two NFL receiver. Good enough to turn pro early, a huge game might be the tipping point and send him off to the next level where he'd likely be a first day pick.

Trying to keep Thomas and the MSU passing game in check will be BC FS Jamie Silva, the team's leading tackler and tone-setter in the secondary. He's a tough, hard-nosed all-around playmaker who'll be in charge of keeping Ringer and the MSU running game from tearing off the big runs it likes to come up with to open things up, but his biggest job will likely be making sure Thomas gets the ball with TE Kellen Davis declared academically ineligible. The BC corners will make their share of plays, but they need help on the deeper passes.

Of course, the marquee attraction is Matt Ryan, who threw for 300 yards or more in nine games and 400 yards or more in four games, but he pressed way too much over the second half of the year throwing 13 interceptions in the final seven games. That's what happens when you throw the ball 50 times a game, but he has to keep the mistakes to a minimum. MSU doesn't need any help.

While Ryan might be the big name, his counterpart, MSU junior Brian Hoyer, is more than good enough to steal the show. Since BC will load up to stop the run, it'll be up to Hoyer to take with the defense gives him and keep the chains moving. He won't have to carry the entire offensive workload, and considering the Spartans lost the two times he threw for 300 yards, he probably won't, but he can bomb away if this gets into a shootout. He's smart, accurate, and has a live arm to keep pushing the ball down the field.

Boston College will win if... Ryan gets time. There's decent talent in the MSU secondary, but it can be picked apart by talented, accurate quarterbacks. Ryan is a talented, accurate quarterback, and while he has decent mobility, Virginia Tech showed what happens when there's consistent pressure in the backfield. It's not just about getting sacks, Ryan is too smart to take many of them, and he can make plays on the move, but if he has to hurry his throws, that'll play into MSU's hands. Give Ryan a few minutes to find his second and third receivers, and the results could be disastrous for the Spartans. Jonal Saint-Dic being out due to academic issues is a big bonus for the Eagles, but the MSU defensive front is still fantastic at getting into the backfield, but BC led the ACC in sacks allowed. Again, that's partly due to Ryan, but the O line has to do its part.

Michigan State
will win if... Hoyer is ultra-efficient. BC's defense was an interception machine over the first half of the season with 18 in the first seven games, but it only came up with three in the final six games. Quarterbacks got some big yards on the Eagles early in the year, but made plenty of mistakes. And then Florida State's Drew Weatherford completed 30 of 46 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns with no picks to hand the Eagles their first loss of the year. Maryland's Chris Turner completed 21 of 27 passes for 337 yards and three scores and no picks in the following game, and Virginia Tech's quarterbacks in the ACC title game completed 21 of 33 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns with a pick. MSU will want to get off the bus running, but as long as Hoyer is keeping the Eagle secondary on its heels, the offense will work.

What will happen: Expect an offensive shootout. Michigan State's balanced attack will come up with a breathtaking array of big plays, pounding the ball a little while getting several home runs from the receiving corps. It won't be enough. Ryan will be too sharp and too good at spreading his throws around with several short passes to RB Andre Callender neutralizing the MSU pass rush and opening things up for the receivers on the outside. The Spartans will come up with a good enough performance to get excited for next year, but 400 yards from Ryan will be too much to overcome.

Line: Boston College -3.5 ... CFN Prediction:
Boston College 30 ... Michigan State 23

2007 Champs Sports Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More