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Seniors ready for last game, bowl bid

November 29, 2001

For the seniors on the MSU football team, Saturday will be their final game at Spartan Stadium.

“It’s hurting, just thinking about it,” senior wide receiver Herb Haygood said. “This is going to be my last game ever playing in Spartan Stadium. I keep trying to say, ‘Oh I have one more, I have one more.’ In reality I don’t.”

Despite having a break out season, in which he is averaging 116.7 all-purpose yards per game, Haygood isn’t satisfied with his performance in his final Spartan season.

“I set my goals so high I haven’t reached any of them,” Haygood said. “(I expect) 200 yards per game, like 15 catches and I expect to return every kick off I catch.”

For senior running back Little John Flowers, reality still hasn’t struck.

“It really hasn’t set in yet,” Flowers said. “I love Michigan State, I love Spartan Stadium, I love the fans and I love all of (the media). It’s been great, I’m going to miss Michigan State. I’m just not ready for it to be over right now.”

After the 16 seniors run through the tunnel at Spartan Stadium for the final time at 11:10 a.m. Saturday, they won’t just be playing their last game in the stadium. They’ll be fighting to play one more game as Spartans, too. MSU (5-5 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) needs one more win to become bowl eligible.

Even though they are fighting for another game, a trip to a bowl won’t define the Spartans season, senior linebacker Josh Thornhill said.

“I think it might be a little bit of a blow,” Thornhill said. “Obviously because a lot of teams work for that. To me personally, we could go 6-5 and not go to a bowl or go to a bowl.

“I’d like to go to a bowl just because it’s my senior year, but more importantly I think is the fact that we go out on top and build something for these younger guys. Whether that comes with a bowl game or not, to me the winning season is more important.”

But the highlight for this year’s graduating class came at a bowl game. The Spartans beat Florida 37-34 in the 1999 Citrus Bowl to finish the season 10-2.

“It’s probably been the finest hour since I’ve been here,” Thornhill said.

And since that victory, Bobby Williams’ first as a head coach, the team has gone to bat for his job.

“That was one of my goals that I wanted to accomplish this year,” Thornhill said. “I’d like to go out on a winning season and hopefully ensure that the critics don’t criticize him anymore because he is a good coach and he can get the job done.

“But it hasn’t worked out that way.”

While the seniors are frustrated by the team’s demise since the Citrus Bowl, they are hopeful the team will play to its potential next year, Haygood said.

“If you look at the team they’re going to have next year, they’re going to be way better than we ever were,” Haygood said. “As long as they keep working hard they’ll be fine, and I’ll be happy with that.”

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