Bowls roundup: K-State to meet Michigan in the desert

JOHN MARSHALL AP College Football Writer Published:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Kansas State is headed back to the desert, this time to face Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

The Wildcats hope it goes a little better than the last time around.

National-title contenders until late in the season, Kansas State fell flat in last season's Fiesta Bowl, losing 35-17 to Oregon.

"We've had so many opportunities to be in Phoenix and we've always been treated well by the people there," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said Sunday night after the bowl announcement. "We're looking forward to the opportunity and are honored to be chosen."

Coming off one of the program's best season, Kansas State (7-5) struggled to open the season without Heisman Trophy finalist Colin Klein, losing four of their first six games, starting with a disheartening home loss to FCS school North Dakota State.

The Wildcats bounced back with a four-game winning streak and closed the regular season with a 31-10 rout of rival Kansas on Saturday to earn a spot in the Dec. 28 game at Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

They'll be facing a team that headed in the opposite direction as the season progressed.

Michigan (7-5) opened 5-0, but lost to Penn State in four overtimes to start a disappointing final two months. The Wolverines lost four of their final five games, though they came within a failed 2-point conversion of knocking off then-No. 2 Ohio State on Nov. 30 in one of the wildest games in the rivalry.

Michigan will be playing in a bowl game for the 37th time in 39 seasons, including the past four seasons and a victory over Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, its last time in Arizona.

"We've very excited about our football team and we feel very strongly that the young men we recruited in the two or three years we've been here now are the right young men," Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "Now, it's getting that experience. Even though through an entire season you should get that experience, you just can't put a price tag on these 15 more practices where you can gain on individual drills and become a smarter football player."

MINNESOTA TO TEXAS BOWL

HOUSTON -- Minnesota will play in the Texas Bowl for the second year in a row when it faces Syracuse on Dec. 27.

The Gophers (8-4) improved by two wins in 2013 but have wound up in Houston yet again. Minnesota blew a 10-point lead in the final 1:10 and lost to Texas Tech 34-31 in last year's Texas Bowl.

Syracuse (6-6) finished 4-4 in its first season in the ACC and rallied past Boston College in the regular-season finale to earn bowl eligibility.

Minnesota is 3-1 against Syracuse, including a 17-10 win in 2012.

BOWLING GREEN BACK TO DETROIT

DETROIT -- MAC champion Bowling Green will return to Detroit to face Pittsburgh in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26.

The Falcons (10-3) beat previously undefeated Northern Illinois 47-27 in the MAC title game at Ford Field on Friday, their fifth straight win.

It's the third bowl bid in five seasons for Bowling Green and the 11th in school history.

Pitt will be making its sixth straight trip to a bowl game. The Panthers, who went 3-5 in their first season in the ACC, are 2-1 against Bowling Green since 1999.

OHIO U TO BEEF 'O' BRADY

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Ohio University is headed to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl to face East Carolina of Conference USA.

It's the second straight season that the Mid-American Conference will be represented in the pre-Christmas game held at Tropicana Field, home of baseball's Tampa Bay Rays. Ball State made the trip last December, receiving the bid when the Big East was unable to fulfill the league's bowl commitments.

This time, the American Athletic Conference was unable to supply a team, and Ohio (7-5) will face East Carolina (9-3) on Dec. 23.

It will be the fifth straight bowl trip for the Bobcats under coach Frank Solich.

East Carolina will be making its 19th bowl appearance. The Pirates last appeared in a Florida bowl in 1965, when they beat Maine in the Tangerine Bowl.

HUSKIES HEADED POINSETTIA BOWL

SAN DIEGO -- Star dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch and the No. 24. Northern Illinois Huskies will face Mountain West Conference Mountain Division champion Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 26 at Qualcomm Stadium.

Northern Illinois (12-1) saw its hopes of playing in a BCS game dashed by a 47-27 loss to Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference title game.

Lynch ran for 1,881 yards, an NCAA record for quarterbacks, and passed for 2,676.

Utah State (8-5) lost 24-17 to No. 21 Fresno State in the inaugural Mountain West title game Saturday night. It will play in its school-record third straight bowl game.

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