Central Michigan hopes to fare better than it did against Purdue in a 45-22 regular season loss on September 15. The Chippewas were 1-4 against non-conference opponents, with the lone victory coming against Army. The four losses included a 44-14 whipping administered by FCS member North Dakota State. In its three games against BCS conference schools, Central Michigan was outscored by a cumulative 167-43 (Kansas, 52-7; Purdue, 45-22; Clemson, 70-14).
Purdue's season was a disappointment over-all. The Boilermakers were projected by the Congrove Computer Rankings to finish 9-3 over-all, and 5-3 in the conference. Instead, they limped home with a 7-5 finish, and a 3-5 conference mark. Its only conference wins came against Minnesota, Iowa and Northwestern. The biggest setback was a 27-24 loss to rival Indiana in the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket, snapping a five-game winning streak in the series. As a result, Indiana earned a berth in the more lucrative Insight Bowl against Oklahoma State.
Quarterback Curtis Painter turned in some stellar numbers, completing 321-of-515 passes for 3,300 yards. He threw 26 touchdown passes and only 9 interceptions. Dorien Bryant and Dustin Keller were his primary targets, with Bryant leading the receiving corp with 82 catches for 871 yards and 8 touchdowns. The speedy Bryant also had 941 yards in kick-off returns with 2 TD's.
The ground troops failed to produce a 1,000-yard rusher, though Kory Sheets (832 yards, 9 TD's) and Jaycen Taylor (537 yards, 3 TD's) combined for 1,369 yards.
Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFavour joined former Texas QB Vince Young as the only two FBS quarterbacks to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season. LeFavour accounted for 40 touchdowns over-all as he threw for 23 scores and ran for 17. He finished with 3,360 yards passing and 1,008 rushing.
Central Michigan's defense, unfortunately, is nearly nonexistent. The Chippewas ranked 11th in the MAC in points allowed and 105th in the nation. They surrendered over 450 yards per game to rank last in the conference and 106th nationally.
This is Central Michigan's second straight trip to the Motor City Bowl, but with two different head coaches. Last year, interim head coach Jeff Quinn led CMU past Middle Tennessee 31-14 for its first bowl win (1-2) in history. The Chippewas will look to repeat under Butch Jones.
This will be Central Michigan's fourth game at Ford Field in its last 28 outings.
Purdue is just 1-6 in its last seven bowl games. The Boilermakers are only 5-11 in their last 16 games away from home.