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“Of all the things running through my head, I guess hadn’t figured on that,” Compher said, “but I understand it. Here, people know the MAC and how good it can be. But the further you get away from Midwest, the less knowledge there’s bound to be and the less respect some people have.

“So, yeah, I’m sure there will be some head-scratching when we pop up in the Orange Bowl, some `Who are they?’ … But we’ve played in some big games before,” he added, “and we know we’re responsible for representing the MAC. We won’t let people down.”

And no matter the final score, there’s already a silver lining. As news of Compher’s action-packed few days made the rounds, someone at Hilton Hotels heard about it, saw the original cancellation and invited the Comphers to pick a weekend in Chicago as their guests.

“I already owed my wife big-time,” Compher said, “so how great is that?”

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Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.