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Published: Monday, 12/9/2002

Rockets like Motor City Bowl pairing

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The nation snapped to attention in early November when Boston College knocked Notre Dame from the ranks of the unbeaten, ending its pusuit of a national championship. That same Boston College team will line up across from the University of Toledo the day after Christmas in the Motor City Bowl.

“Everyone knows that's the team that beat Notre Dame, so bringing Boston College in for the bowl game definitely adds some prestige to the whole event,” Toledo coach Tom Amstutz said. “That is an established and respected program with a great football tradition. We think it makes for a lot of excitement surrounding the game.”

The Rockets (9-4) beat Cincinnati 23-16 in last year's Motor City Bowl. Toledo has never faced the Eagles (8-4), but the two had a pair of common opponents this past season. Both UT and BC pounded Central Michigan, and both lost at Pittsburgh, Boston College in overtime.

“It's a great matchup because it brings together two schools who don't traditionally play against each other,” Amstutz said. “We don't know much about them, and they don't know much about us. That should make for an interesting bowl game.”

Boston College closed out its season with a 44-14 win over Rutgers on Nov. 30 to finish 3-4 in the Big East. The Eagles finished in fourth place in the conference, tied with Virginia Tech. BC's losses came to the Hokies, Pitt, unbeaten Miami, and West Virginia.“They've had an excellent running game over the years, but they have shown the ability to mix it up with a great deal of success,” Amstutz said. “That's what they did to beat Notre Dame, and that was a pretty impressive win for them.”

The Eagles have beaten the Fighting Irish three of the last four years. Sources close to the Motor City Bowl selection process said last night that both Iowa State and Texas A&M were strong possibilities to face the Rockets in the bowl game, which moves from the aging Pontiac Silverdome to downtown Detroit's new Ford Field, but BC was considered to be a more attractive draw.

Boston College will be making its fourth straight bowl appearance. The Eagles, 31-17 over the last four years, beat Georgia in last year's Music City Bowl, beat Arizona State in the Aloha Bowl two years ago, and lost to Colorado in the 1999 Insight.com Bowl.

“We are very excited to be going to the Motor City Bowl, and we will get to work this week to prepare for a very tough Toledo team,” Boston College head coach Tom O'Brien said.

Amstutz said he plans to give the Rockets a couple of days off following Saturday night's 49-45 loss to Marshall in the MAC Championship Game in Huntington. Toledo will hold light workouts later in the week, then put on its annual football banquet Friday night. The preparations will intensify after that for the 5 p.m. meeting with the Eagles on Dec. 26, which will be shown nationally on ESPN.

“We'll give the players a chance to get caught up on their studies and rest a bit, then get back to work,” Amstutz said.

“The bowl game is a reward for all of their hard work and accomplishments this season, and it's a time when football should be fun for them. We'll make sure it's fun and they get to enjoy the whole bowl game experience, but we also have to take it serious and prepare for a very good opponent.”

The Motor City Bowl was expected to match its MAC representative against a team from the Big Ten this year, but the Big Ten did not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fullfill all of its obligations after both Ohio State and Iowa were included in the BCS field. That left the Motor City with an at-large opening, and once the dominos started to fall into place late Saturday night, Boston College ended up paired with the Rockets.



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