Spartans spank Missouri 55-7, wait for bowl bid

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State did its best to show bowl scouts that it can put on a good show.

T.J. Duckett and Charles Rogers each scored three touchdowns as the Spartans beat Missouri 55-7 Saturday to become bowl eligible.

The Spartans (6-5) might receive a bid as soon as Sunday to play No. 21 Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Bowl after routing the Tigers (4-7).

"We feel very, very good that we'll play in the Silicon Valley Bowl," Michigan State associate athletic director Mark Hollis said.

Michigan State became the sixth and final Big Ten team to be bowl eligible -- thanks to Penn State's loss at Virginia -- which means the Spartans could also land in the Alamo or Sun Bowl if those bowls don't choose Purdue and Iowa.

The Spartans seem to be excited about the possibilities of playing the high-scoring Fresno State, led by quarterback David Carr, on Dec. 31 in San Jose, Calif.

"I think that would be good game," Duckett said. "Fun to watch and fun to play in."

Michigan State's seven TDs Saturday were on drives of 1:32 or less. The Spartans amassed 639 yards on offense and were not forced to punt until early in the fourth quarter.

"I knew after pre-game warmups that these guys were ready to play," Michigan State coach Bobby Williams said. "It was the first time all year that we played a really good football game as a team."

Duckett ran for 149 yards on 25 carries, and his third TD at 9:53 of the third quarter gave Michigan State a 45-0 lead.

When the junior -- who ran for 1,236 yards and 10 TDs this year -- was asked if he'll return for his senior season, bypassing a chance to go in the NFL Draft, he said, "I'm excited, it's going to be fun" -- twice.

Then, after being pressed for a more-direct answer, he provided one.

"Yeah, I'll be back," Duckett said.

Rogers caught seven passes for 168 yards and two TDs and his 20-yard double-reverse gave the Spartans a 31-0 halftime lead.

The sophomore set a school record with 1,200 receiving yards this season, surpassing Plaxico Burress, who now plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his 12 receiving TDs tied Burress' record.

"It probably won't hit me until later on," said Rogers, who was academically ineligible as a freshman. "It shows that I belong in this game."

Michigan S tate's Jeff Smoker was 14-of-17 for 317 yards with two TDs, an interception and a fumble.

Missouri ended the Spartans' shutout hopes with 48 seconds left on Kirk Farmer's 2-yard run. Farmer was 10-of-25 for 74 yards and an interception.

Missouri's Justin Gage caught six passes for 37 yards. He made 74 receptions this season, one short of the school record.

"I was very disappointed in our performance," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "We got out-coached, outplayed and out-everythinged in that game.

"I am disappointed that my seniors would have to have that be their last game wearing a Missouri uniform. We'll just get ready and get working and when we get on the bus, we'll start working on next year."

The Spartans were glad to end the regular season on a positive note. They were 5-2 after their win over Michigan but lost the following three games.

"It's was a good cap on an up-and-down, roller-coaster year," Duckett said.

Saturday's game originally was scheduled for Sept. 15 but was postponed because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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