Matt Ryan and Boston College had a much more enjoyable trip to Florida this time around.
Ryan threw three touchdown passes, two to Rich Gunnell, and the No. 14 Eagles extended the nation's longest bowl winning streak to eight with a 24-21 victory over Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl last night in Orlando, Fla.
The Eagles (11-3) were ranked No. 2 in the country after rallying to beat Virginia Tech in late October. But they ended the regular season losing three of five, including a rematch with the Hokies in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game in Jacksonville, and ended up in the Champs Sports Bowl.
They found plenty of motivation, though, wanting to extend their impressive bowl streak and send Ryan and his fellow seniors out on a high note.
Ryan, of Penn Charter, finished 22-for-47 for 249 yards, but he also had an interception and a costly fumble.
Gunnell had six catches for 138 yards, including TD receptions of 29 and 68 yards. Both catches came against Michigan State freshman Chris Rucker, who was playing for the first time since having three medical procedures in the last 2 months to correct a detached retina.
BC safety Jamie Silva had two interceptions and was the game's most valuable player.
The Eagles sealed the win with their fourth interception of the game. Paul Anderson picked off Brian Hoyer's pass and returned it to the Michigan State 29 with 2:29 remaining.
The Eagles ran out the clock from there.
Hoyer finished with five turnovers - four interceptions and a fumble - for the Spartans (7-6).
Michigan State, in its first bowl in 4 years, played without four academically ineligible players, including defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic, one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten. Also ineligible were offensive lineman Abre Leggins, punt returner Terry Love and receiver-cornerback T.J. Williams.
Coach Mark Dantonio also suspended senior linebacker SirDarean Adams for violating an unspecified team rule.
In other bowl games:
* In the Emerald Bowl at San Francisco, Yvenson Bernard gained 177 yards and scored a touchdown to help Oregon State defeat Maryland, 21-14.
* In the Texas Bowl at Houston, Andy Dalton ran for a touchdown and Justin Watts had the go-ahead score to help TCU to a 20-13 win over Houston.
* Southern Illinois introduced Dale Lennon as its new coach, handing the former North Dakota coach a program that came one victory short of the national title game this season.
Lennon succeeds Jerry Kill, who resigned to take over at Northern Illinois less than a week after he guided the Salukis (12-2) to the semifinals of the Football Championship Subdivision. *