Michigan, Va. Tech headed to Sugar Bowl

Michigan will meet Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, which passed up the chance to take two higher-ranked teams.

The Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl has a traditional tie-in with the Southeastern Conference, but No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama will meet six days later in the national championship game, also at the Superdome in New Orleans.

The Sugar Bowl skipped No. 8 Boise State and 11th-ranked Kansas State in favor of two programs that likely will bring more fans to the Big Easy.

No. 13 Michigan (10-2) had a resurgent season under first-year coach Brady Hoke, capped by 40-34 victory over Ohio State. Virginia Tech (11-2), ranked 17th by The Associated Press, claimed a BCS bid despite losing 38-10 to Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Boise State (11-1) finished seventh in the BCS rankings and has a well-known history of success when invited to a major bowl. Kansas State (10-2) was one spot lower in the BCS.

That wasn't enough to persuade the Sugar Bowl to take them ahead of two programs with larger fan bases.

Chief executive officer Paul Hoolahan said Virginia Tech's proven history of bringing fans to New Orleans was "extremely important," even though the Hokies only finished 11th in the BCS rankings.

"I think Virginia Tech has proven over the years the caliber of football team they are," Hoolahan said. "I think they will perform extremely well. I think that's a team that will be a great performer for us."

Michigan was 13th, the lowest-ranked at-large team to receive a BCS bid. But its program is on the upswing after the rocky tenure of former coach Rich Rodriguez.

"Obviously, it was a difficult decision," Hoolahan said. "We thought every team we had an opportunity to select presented us with certain unique credentials. In the final analysis, we just felt the two teams we have chosen really give us in the long run the best opportunity to put together a matchup that will provide a very exciting football game."