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2011-2012
College Football Season
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Preview


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LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl History
Western Michigan Western Michigan (7-5)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
Purdue Purdue (6-6)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
Location: Detroit, MI
Date: Tuesday, December 27
Time: 4:30 pm EST
TV: ESPN

Game Preview

Courtesy Little Caeasar's Pizza Bowl and CFP
December 23, 2011

DETROIT – The Purdue Boilermakers of the Big Ten will meet the Western Michigan Broncos of the Mid-American Conference on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 4:30 EST in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.

Western Michigan enters the bowl with a 7-5 record, winning three out of its last four games and owning a 38-31 win over Connecticut (UConn) of the Big East Conference during the season.

Purdue comes in with a 6-6 record with victories in two of its last three games, including an upset of Ohio State.

"We are excited to have Purdue and Western Michigan in the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Both teams have significant fan bases and will no doubt bring that support with them to Detroit," said CEO & Executive Director Ken Hoffman. "The Boilermakers played in a very competitive Big Ten this season that produced ten bowl eligible teams."

Hoffman continued, "WMU played a nonconference schedule that included Michigan in Ann Arbor, Illinois in Champagne and, of course, the win at UConn which finished 5-7. We expect an outstanding game, with Purdue having averaged more than 26 points and Western Michigan averaging over 35 points per game, including averaging 50 point in their last four games."

The Broncos posted a 2-2 record against nonconference opponents this season with a 3-point setback at Illinois. Western Michigan was trailing Michigan 34-10 when the season opener was called due to storms with 1:27 left in the 3rd quarter. The other nonconference win came against FCS member Nicholls State.

Western Michigan is led by Jordan White who leads the FBS in total receiving yards (1,646), receiving yards per game (137.17), total receptions (127) and receptions per game (10.58).

Quarterback Alex Carder surpassed his yardage total from last season (3,434) and has been prolific with TD passes (29). Defensive tackle Drew Nowak was the 2011 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, ranking fifth in the FBS in tackles per loss per game (1.67) and fourth in total TFLs (20.0).

Western Michigan is making just its fifth bowl appearance all-time and is still searching for its first bowl victory. This is the Broncos' first bowl game since 2008, but their third since 2006.

WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard said, "We are honored to accept the invitation to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. It is definitely a great day to be a Bronco!"

The Boilermakers also posted a 2-2 record against nonconference foes, though the wins were a 3-point squeaker over a Middle Tennessee team that finished 2-10 and FCS member SE Missouri State. Purdue lost 24-22 on the road to a Rice team that was just 4-8 and was blown out 38-10 at home by Notre Dame.

Purdue was not competitive at all against this year's top Big Ten teams, bowing 36-14 to at Michigan and crumbling 62-17 at Wisconsin. Its best wins came against a pair of 6-6 teams in the Buckeyes and an Illinois squad that Purdue caught in the midst of a 6-game losing streak.

Western Michigan defeated one 6-6 club (Eastern Michigan) and a pair of 5-7 teams in (UConn and Bowling Green).

Purdue does boast the nation’s best kickoff return team (27.5 yard average) and one of the most dynamic freshmen in Raheem Mostert, who leads the Big Ten with a 31.0-yard average. The quarterback duo of Miami-transfer Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush combined to complete 60 percent of their passes (2,361 yards, 15 touchdowns).

Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short, Jr. tied for third in Big Ten and 13th nationally in tackles for loss (17) and tied for fourth in the conference in sacks (6.5). Kicker Carson Wiggs ranks second in the Big Ten in field goals (16-21) and has made his last nine.

"Our goal was to play one more game this year, and we will use this game against Western Michigan as a springboard into the 2012 season," Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke said. "We had a great time and an exciting game in 2007, and look forward to another one this year."

Purdue’s appearance will be the third by a Big Ten Conference team in the Detroit bowl and the second for the B'makers. Northwestern lost 28-24 to Bowling Green in 2003. Purdue eked past Central Michigan 51-48 in 2007 and this will be its first bowl game since then. The Boilermakers have emerged victorious in 8 of their 15 previous bowl trips.

The game will serve as Western Michigan’s first appearance in the Detroit bowl, although the MAC has been represented each year of the bowl since its inaugural 1997 game. MAC teams won 5 of the first 7 affairs, but have taken just 1 of the last 7. The last MAC victory in this came came in 2006 when Central Michigan downed Middle Tennessee 31-14.

Under Head Coach Bill Cubit, the Broncos have been bowl eligible five times over the past seven seasons. The Broncos played in the 2008 Texas Bowl and the now-defunct International Bowl in 2007. Last year, Western Michigan (6-6) and fellow MAC member Temple (8-4) were the only bowl eligible teams that didn't get a postseason invitation.

The Congrove Computer Rankings project Western Michigan as a 3.11-point winner in the third overall meeting between the two teams. Purdue took both previous encounters, but they last met in 2002.