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.