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Team, fans prepare for bowl game

December 4, 2001

The semester is almost over, and the grade is already in for the MSU football team’s 6-5 regular season performance.

“Even in games that we weren’t successful in, our guys showed a competitive will,” head coach Bobby Williams said. “... If I were to grade this team right now, I would say they were in the C-plus to B-minus range.”

Now the Spartans’ focus shifts to the Dec. 31 Silicon Valley Football Classic matchup against No. 19 Fresno State in San Jose, Calif.

Williams said the team is not only preparing for a win, but for the future.

The Spartans have this week off and will resume practice Saturday. And because it’s a NCAA contact period for recruiting, Williams and his staff will take full advantage.

“Going to a bowl game gives you more things to sell as a program,” Williams said. “We’re going to invite some prospects up to campus to watch bowl practice. We want to show those players the excitement surrounding an event like this.”

But the Bulldogs (11-2) will attempt to dent MSU’s excitement come Dec. 31. Led by David Carr, this year’s Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner as the nation’s best senior quarterback - Fresno State could be MSU’s most explosive opponent yet.

The Bulldogs are averaging 334 yards passing and more than 40 points a game this year.

“They have excellent team speed all across the board,” Williams said. “And they have shown that they can compete with all of the major conferences.”

Senior wide receiver Herb Haygood, one of the many players Williams noted as significantly improved from a year ago, is counting the days for his last Spartan battle.

“Hopefully we’ll come out with a win Dec. 31,” Haygood said. “That will show everyone what you can expect from this team in the future.”

The self-proclaimed “Bowl by the Bay” is also firing up senior linebacker Josh Thornhill, who was voted by his peers as MSU’s team MVP on Sunday.

“We have one more game to win before I leave this place,” Thornhill said. “And there’s no doubt that I want to go out a winner.”

MSU’s entire team - minus any of this year’s academically ineligible players and those injured and unable to travel - will arrive in “The Golden State” on Dec. 26.

One player, sophomore cornerback Tyrell Dortch, may join the team in San Jose, but the chances are slim. Dortch is still recovering from a broken leg he sustained in the Oct. 27 game at Wisconsin.

Dortch, who hasn’t been to an MSU game since his injury, is out of school and resting in his hometown of Hoboken, N.J.

Along with the daily practices and events leading up to the game, Williams will also look into some fun team activities.

Williams said he would like to take the entire team, made up of about 100 players, to the No. 24 MSU men’s basketball team game against No. 14 Stanford on Dec. 29 in Oakland, Calif.

Tickets, get your tickets

About 5,000 tickets have been allotted to MSU for the Silicon Valley Football Classic, which will coincidentally be played in San Jose State’s Spartan Stadium.

MSU has $30 and $60 tickets available. The $30 are in the end zone and $60 are at field level.

Orders can be purchased through the Spartan Athletic Ticket Office at (517)355-1610 or 1-800-GO-State.

There’s also more information regarding ticket availability at the Silicon Valley Football Classic Web site at www.bowlbythebay.com.

Eric Lacy can be reached at lacyeric@msu.edu.

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