ORLANDO - Boston College may have edged Clemson on the playing field in 2005, but the Eagles couldn't pull off the same trick with a bowl berth hanging in the balance.
Despite finishing with a better record (8-3 to 7-4) and the overtime win over Clemson in late September, Boston College found itself on the outside looking in at the Champs Sports Bowl on Sunday. Instead it was the Tigers, winners of five of their final six games, who were given the nod by the bowl's executive committee.
The game, scheduled for Dec. 27, will match Clemson with Colorado. The Buffaloes come into the game 7-5, including a humiliating 70-3 loss Saturday to Texas in the Big 12 Championship game.
Despite the loss, Colorado easily outdistanced Kansas in the vote cast Sunday by the Champs Sports Bowl's over 100 committee members.
That wasn't the case for Clemson, who survived a narrow vote with Boston College. But in the end, it was the Tigers' strong finish and traveling reputation that won over the Champs committee.
"There was a long discussion," said bowl executive director Tom Mickle during a Sunday evening teleconference. "On the ACC side it came down to Clemson and Boston College...We don't reveal the exact vote count, and Boston College had considerable support. But Clemson won the vote and we're glad to have them.
"Clemson historically has been a great bowl travel team. That never hurts, obviously...The last time they were here the game was two days before Christmas, and that likely impacted travel a little bit."
Each team will be allotted 12,000 tickets to sell, Mickle said. The most any team has sold since the bowl's rebirth (then as the Tangerine Bowl) was 8,500 by N.C. State. No Big 12 team has sold more than 3,000 tickets.
In fact Colorado had 8,500 tickets allotted for the Big 12 title game, but sold just over 3,000.
Regardless, Buffaloes head coach Gary Barnett said he was excited about the chance for his team to play in Orlando, and seemed quite familiar with both Clemson and the ACC in general.
"We played Miami down there. I watched Tommy's team play (Texas) A&M. We played both those teams," he said. "Around here you get a chance to watch a lot of ACC games, so we're pretty familiar. Most coaches probably watch 4-5 games a weekend."
For Bowden, the Champs bowl represents a chance to put his Tigers on display for both the nation and - just as importantly - potential recruits.
"We won five of our last six games, finishing strong," he said. "The four losses were all on the last play of game. Our schedule tied for the toughest schedule in Clemson history. So the way we finished was definite factor. Back to back wins over nationally ranked teams(Florida State, South Carolina) was a factor.
"No doubt the extra exposure from television and print media will be beneficial (for recruiting). We're very active in that area, so hopefully will be advantageous to us."
Of course, the Champs Sports Bowl might consider itself fortunate to have had a shot at Clemson.
Before Saturday's conference championship games, a strong scenario had again emerged which would have seen the Tigers facing Georgia in the Peach Bowl. But that matchup went out the window when the Bulldogs upset LSU in the SEC title game, and Florida State stunned Virginia Tech in the ACC championship.
Tech fell to the Gator Bowl, where it will face Louisville. Miami landed in the Peach Bowl opposite LSU. That left the Champs Bowl free to choose between Clemson and Boston College, and the Tigers won the aforementioned close vote.
After the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte then opted to take N.C. State, that left Boston College likely destined for the MPC Computers bowl in Boise, Idaho. The other options for the Eagles at the time were the Music City Bowl in Nashville and the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco.
But Virginia and Georgia Tech, respectively, claimed those bowl slots.
"The ACC asked us for a fair evaluation," said Mickle. "They would have been disappointed had we chosen six-win teams. Focused on seven-win teams and above. That's all we promised them and they didn't pressure us."
Clemson's travel plans will be announced later this week.
Tickets for the Champs Sports Bowl are $50 each. More information on the game can be found at www.fcsports.com.