DETROIT – The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl will pit the Bowling Green Falcons, champions of the Mid-American Conference, against the Pittsburgh Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Thursday, December 26, 2013 (6:00pm, ESPN) at Ford Field in Detroit.
Bowling Green enters the bowl with an 10–3 record and riding a five-game winning streak, including a 47-27 MAC Championship game win against previously unbeaten and 14th ranked Northern Illinois. This year will mark the Falcons’ first return to the Detroit since their victory over Northwestern in the 2003 Motor City Bowl.
However, Bowling Green will be without head coach Dave Clawson who accepted the same posiiton with Wake Forest on December 10. Assistant head coach Adam Scheier will serve as the interim head coach for the bowl game.
Under second-year head coach Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh enters the bowl with a 6–6 record that includes impressive wins over ACC Coastal Division Champion Duke and perennial national power Notre Dame. Pitt posted a 3-1 record against nonconference opponents this season, having only been defeated by bowl-bound Navy outside their conference.
"We are thrilled to have the Falcons back with us this year, after such an outstanding 2013 championship season. Their nationally- ranked 2003 team and their sizable fan base brought one of the most exciting games in our bowl’s history to Detroit," said CEO & Executive Director Ken Hoffman. "Further, we welcome the Pitt Panthers to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. They have a strong football legacy from a football-rich area of the country. We are confident that their proximity to Detroit will allow a large contingent of Pitt fans to come see their team in a highly competitive bowl matchup this year."
The 2013 Little Caesars Bowl will feature one of the nation’s sixth ranked total defense and a red-hot QB with the MAC Champion Falcons and a resurgent Pitt team with one of the nation’s top defensive linemen, who was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Pitt defeated ACC Coastal Division Champion Duke. They also faced BCS National Championship Game-bound and #1 ranked Florida State, as well as bowl-bound Virginia Tech, Navy, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Miami.
The Panthers are led by ACC Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald (an Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Nagurski Award, and Bednarik Award finalist), All-ACC receiver Tyler Boyd, quarterback Tom Savage, and defensive back Ray Vinopal.
"We are very pleased to have this opportunity for Coach Chryst and our team to play in another bowl game. The location and the date are ideal for Pitt fans to be able to enjoy being a part of the bowl experience," said Pittsburgh Director of Athletics Steve Pederson. "A bowl appearance is significant in many ways, especially as Coach Chryst continues to build this program toward our next championship. We are grateful to the people of Detroit for making this possible. We will have an excited team arriving in Detroit for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl."
Bowling Green boasts wins over bowl-bound Northern Illinois and Buffalo. As well, the Falcons non-conference schedule included a loss at Indiana and a one-point loss at Mississippi State; while they also suffered a three-point loss to cross-town rival Toledo.
The Mid-American Conference Champion Falcons boast that conference’s best defense. Nationally, the Falcons rank sixth in total defense, fifth in scoring defense, and second in red-zone defense. As well, Bowling Green boasts first-team All-MAC performers Dominic Flewellyn (offensive line), David Kekeuwa (center), and BooBoo Gates (defensive back), as well as MAC Championship Player of the Game Matt Johnson (quarterback).
"Community involvement is at the heart of our company’s core values, and our sponsorship of the bowl represents this," said Little Caesar Enterprise President and CEO David Scrivano. "We are eager to share the bowl experience with college football fans, and look forward to seeing an action packed bowl game when Pitt and Bowling Green take the field."
The Panthers appearance will be the first by an Atlantic Coast Conference team in the Detroit bowl. Bowling Green’s appearance will be its second appearance in the Detroit bowl, although the MAC has been represented in each year of the bowl.
The 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl will be played before a national television audience on ESPN. The game will be in downtown Detroit’s Ford Field for the twelfth consecutive season, after five years at the Pontiac Silverdome.
The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is now in its 17th year of bringing major college football bowl action to football fans across the country during the holiday season. From 1997 through 2008 the bowl was known as the Motor City Bowl. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is the only major college football bowl game located in the Midwest United States.
The Congrove Computer Rankings project Bowling Green as a 13-point winner in the forth-ever meeting between the two teams. Pittsburgh leads the series 2-1.