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Little Caesars Bowl
The Western Michigan Broncos have posted a solid 7-5 record behind a high flying passing game. The MAC team has been rewarded with a bid to play 6-6 Purdue in the Little Caesar’s Bowl. The Big Ten team promises to be a strong challenge for them.
The Broncos are headed by QB Alex Carder. The youngster has looked great this year, posting 3,434 yards and a 28-10 QB/INT ratio. One of his best games was a road win against Connecticut where he passed for 479 yards and 5 TDs. His favorite target is the senior Jordan White. This kid is having a tremendous season with 127 catches for 1,646 yards and 16 TDs. There isn’t much of a running game for this team, so Carder and White will have to shoulder the load with the nations 8th ranked passing offense.
In Big Ten fashion, Purdue is a team that likes to run the ball. The combination of junior RBs Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers will pound the ball as long as they can in this bowl game. The tandem has combined to gain 1,044 yards and 12 TDs this season. They work behind a QB, Caleb TerBush, that has improved down the stretch.
The key matchup here could be the Broncos run defense against the Boilermakers RB duo of Shavers and Bolden. Western Michigan hasn’t done a very good job against the run this year and they are giving up 5.5 YPC on the season. Purdue cant really stop the run either, but that doesn’t matter because the Broncos aren’t a running team; they pass. What Purdue DOES have is a strong secondary that held Notre Dame and Ohio State in check.
The Purdue schedule was much more difficult, by more than a TD. They beat Ohio State and Illinois and played close games with Penn State and Iowa. Both of these teams lost to Michigan by similar scores (not close) while Western Michigan lost to Illinois by 3. After playing a big 10 schedule, you'd have to wonder if Purdue could get excited about playing a team like Western Michigan in a bowl. On the flip side, Western Michigan should be happy to be playing anyone.
The numbers and the common opponents suggest this could be a close game and likely one with quite a few points scored. Western Michigan has never won a bowl game and as they say, no time like the present. They should be the more excited team and being so close to home should also have the crowd on their side.
Western Michigan +2.5 and over 60 total points.