2011 Little Caesars Pizza - Purdue 37, WMU 32

Posted Dec 27, 2011

2011-2012 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

2011 Little Caesars

Purdue 37 ... WMU 32

- 2011-2012 CFN Bowl Central

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National Rankings
79th Total Offense 22nd
68th Total Defense 100th
68th Scoring Offense 18th
65th Scoring Defense 73rd
39th Rushing Offense 86th
90th Run Defense 107th
82nd Passing Offense 8th
37th Passing Defense 52nd
74th Turnover Margin 59th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
P   W
3 Quarterbacks 4.5
3.5 RBs 2.5
3 Receivers 5
3 O Line 2.5
3.5 D Line 2.5
3 Linebackers 3
3.5 Secondary 3
4 Spec Teams 3
4 Coaching 3.5
Purdue 37 … Western Michigan 32
- CFN Thoughts on the Game

Purdue: The Boilermaker defense forced seven turnovers and recovered two onside kicks. … Caleb TerBush completed 8-of-13 passes for 101 yards and a score, and Robert Marve completed 6-of-7 throws for 76 yards and a touchdown. … Akeem Shavers led the team with 149 yards on 22 carries. … Gary Bush caught six passes for 90 yards and a score. … Raheem Mostert return two kickoffs for 124 yards with a 99-yard score. … Joe Holland led the team with nine tackles, two tackles for loss, and three broken up passes. … DE Gerald Gooden made three tackles, a tackle for loss, two picks, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Western Michigan: The Broncos outgained Purdue 485 to 442. … WR Jordan White caught 13 passes for 265 yards and a score. … Alex Carder completed 31-of-57 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns with four picks. He also led the team with 17 rushing yards on 14 attempts. … Aaron Winchester led the team with 12 tackles with a forced fumble and a tackle for loss. (AP) Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush took the final snap, sprinted to the sideline and handed the football to coach Danny Hope.

Perhaps empowered by getting a contract extension recently, Hope made the gutsy decision to go for two onside kicks in the first half and both gambles paid off for the Boilermakers in a 37-32 win over Western Michigan on Tuesday night in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Raheem Mostert returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, third-string running back Reggie Pegram scored the first two TDs of his career and Carson Wiggs made two field goals to give the Boilermakers a 27-15 lead at halftime.

Wiggs also recovered one of his onside kicks, both of which he tapped toward a sideline after running at full speed as if he was trying to boot the ball deep.

Purdue (7-6) had another 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Big Ten team had to hold on for the win against the Mid-American Conference program.

The Broncos (7-6) got the ball with a chance to go ahead, but their comeback hopes ended when quarterback Alex Carder fumbled for his fifth turnover with just under 2 minutes left.

Ryan Russell forced the final fumble and Bruce Gaston recovered to seal the win in a game that entertained 46,177 fans inside the home of the Detroit Lions.

The Boilermakers played in a bowl for the first time since 2007, when they beat Central Michigan - also in Detroit.

Western Michigan fell to 0-5 in postseason play.

Purdue's Akeem Shavers ran for a career-high 148 yards on 22 carries, filling in for the injured Ralph Bolden, and was named the game's MVP.

TerBush was 8 of 13 for 101 yards with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Gary Bush midway through the third quarter that put Purdue up 34-18. Robert Marve was 6 of 7 for 76 yards with a 1-yard scoring pass to Pegram in the first quarter.

Purdue defensive end Gerald Gooden had two of his team's four interceptions, and gave back one of those two turnovers to the Broncos in a game filled with miscues and missed opportunities for both teams.

Western Michigan's star receiver, Jordan White, who drew at least one NFL scout to watch him, caught 13 passes for 249 yards and a score.

Carder was 31 of 57 for 413 yards with three TDs - also connecting with Josh Schaffer and Chleb Ravenell for scores. But the junior matched a career high with four interceptions and gave up the ball a fifth time to end the Broncos' chances to rally for the victory in their homestate in front of many of their fans.

Purdue will go back across the border to Indiana happy, especially school officials who added two years to Hope's deal last week to keep him under contract through 2016.

Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6) Dec. 27, 4:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal … Can the Big Ten team stay with the team from the MAC?

Northern Illinois would be favored over Indiana and Minnesota – Ball State beat the Hoosiers and the Gophers barely got by Miami University – but it would be hard to find too many MAC teams able to hang around with a motivated Big Ten team. But that might not be the case in a bowl game that's been one of the best of the bunch over the last several years.

Purdue had its hand in a thrilling 51-48 win over Central Michigan in the 2007 Motor City Bowl. That turned out to be the first of four bowls – changed to the Little Caesars in 2009 – decided by four points or fewer, and it was part of a run of five bowls in six years decided by a touchdown or less. However, the MAC hasn't been on the right side of many of them.

It's not like the MAC hasn't been competitive, but it hasn't won in this bowl in four years and has won once – a Central Michigan 31-14 win over Middle Tennessee in 2006 – in the last seven bowls and twice in the last nine. But this time, Western Michigan has the firepower to change all of that.

The program lost the 1961 Aviation Bowl to New Mexico, lost to Fresno State in the 1988 California Bowl, and lost to Cincinnati in the 2006 International and to Rice in the 2008 Texas. That's it for Western Michigan's bowl history, and while it might be a wee bit of a stretch to call this the team's biggest game ever – the two MAC championship losses to Marshall in the late 1990s were more important, this is a must win.

It's been a strange season for WMU, moving the ball well in a storm-shortened loss to Michigan to open the season, and with a rough stretch of three losses in four games including a 14-10 shocker at Eastern Michigan and a 66-63 shootout against Toledo, but closing out with wins over Miami University and a 68-19 squeaker against Akron were enough to get the bowl bid. A win over Connecticut was the bright spot, failing to beat anyone else with a pulse, but even so, the offense has worked throughout the year with the MAC's best passing attack and a phenomenal season from QB Alex Carder and WR Jordan White. Now Purdue has to prove it can keep up.

The Boilermakers have lost six of their last eight bowl games since Drew Brees pulled off a stunning comeback to beat Kansas State in 1998, andthis is the program's first bowl appearance since 2006, but it'll have to show from the start that an offense that struggled and sputtered at times can produce. The one big win of note on the year, a 26-23 overtime thriller over Ohio State, came in a defensive slugfest against a team that couldn't move the ball on a consistent basis. But Purdue will be pumped up to play in the national spotlight and should bring the A effort, even if it's just against a MAC team.

Why Purdue Might Win: Western Michigan might have one of the most fun and exciting offenses in America, but it doesn't have a defense to match. The Broncos famously gave up over 800 yards in the loss to Toledo, but they also struggled throughout the year against the run and didn't do enough against anyone with a solid offense. The WMU defensive front got ripped to shreds by Northern Illinois for 494 rushing yards and six scores and 419 rushing yards and five touchdowns against Toledo. Purdue's offensive line isn't special, but running the ball hasn't been a problem on teams that aren't physical up front. That's Western Michigan. The Broncos can get to the quarterback and are aggressive enough to fly into the backfield, but they can be shoved around.

Purdue doesn't come up with many takeaways, but it doesn't give the ball up, either. The Boilermakers have had a few interception issues with six in the last five games, but there have only been five lost fumbles on the year with two coming in the loss to Iowa. WMU doesn't exactly live off of turnovers, but the offense hasn't exactly been hurt by the help from a defense that came up with eight fumble recoveries in the last three games. Again, though, Purdue doesn't give up a slew of fumbles.

Why Western Michigan Might Win: Bombs away. Purdue has one of the Big Ten's best pass defense – statistically – but that's partly because the D hasn't faced many teams that can throw. If Ohio State's Braxton Miller is throwing without a problem, there's an issue, and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson did whatever he wanted. Western Michigan should be able to dink and dunk Purdue to death, but it can also hit the home run at times, too. Carder completed 22-of-31 passes for 183 yards and a pick against Michigan, and he bombed away for 479 yards and five scores against Connecticut. He should be able to do what he wants against the Purdue corners.

Purdue might need as much help as it can get to get the offense moving at times. Western Michigan will score, but Raheem Mostert is one of the nation's best kickoff returners and Purdue is second in the nation averaging 27.46 yards per try. However, Western Michigan is terrific at covering kickoffs, allowing just 17.29 yards per try – third best in the nation. Why? The Broncos have come up with a whopping 34 touchbacks. Kicker John Potter is a decent field goal kicker, but he can boom it.

What To Watch Out For: Penalties. Lots and lots of penalties. Purdue is 104th in the nation in sins committed, coming up with 7.25 per game and close to 61 yards. Western Michigan is worse committing 7.42 per game.

Alex Carder hurt his throwing shoulder late in the year, and missed out on the target practice game against Akron, but he's healthy and ready to go after completing 67% of his passes for 3,434 yards and 28 touchdowns with ten picks. He's not huge, but he has a strong, accurate arm and he's a great decision maker. More than anything else, though, is that he has the nation's most productive receiver, senior Jordan White, who made the most of his sixth year of eligibility to catch 127 passes for 1,646 yards and 16 scores hitting the 100-yard mark in every game but three. The 6-0, 215-pound veteran is a strong, physical target and a peerless route runner.

The game will feature two of the most active defensive tackles in the bowl season, Purdue's Kawann Short and Western Michigan senior Drew Nowak. Nowak is a quick 6-4, 292-pounder with a whopping 27 tackles for loss and ten sacks on the year to go along with 83 tackles. Always moving and always disruptive, he's fast off the ball and great at collapsing the pocket. On the other side is Short, the team's sack leader making 6.5 to go along with 21 tackles for loss and 52 stops. At 6-3 and 305 pounds, he's a big, NFL style 4-3 tackle who'll make a ton of money when he's ready to turn pro.

What Will Happen: Everyone will be waiting to see the Western Michigan offense, but it'll be Purdue's attack that'll thrive. The 1-2 punch of Ralph Bolden, Akeem Hunt and a cast of several backs will control the clock and the game, while Caleb TerBush will have a good, strong, efficient passing game spreading the ball around well enough to keep the WMU secondary guessing. White will get his ten catches, but it won't be enough in a close, fun game that'll be yet another close Little Caesars/Motor City Bowl.

CFN Prediction: Purdue 38 … Western Michigan 34
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Purdue -2.5   O/U: 60  
Confidence Picks 
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E-mail Pete Fiutak
Western Michigan WR Jordan White is worth the price of admission. Remember, Greg Jennings went to WMU. It might sound crazy to think this, but does the Big Ten team have the talent to keep up the pace with the MAC team? Take the over.

By Richard Cirminiello 
The Boilermakers will struggle with the offensive firepower of Western Michigan, which will arrive highly motivated to knock off a team from the Big Ten.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee  
Western Michigan boasts the nation's No. 23 offense, and MACtion is a guilty pleasure. You should give it a chance too,

By Russ Mitchell
7-5 Western Mich v. 6-6 Purdue. I love CFB. I mean, I looooove college football, with cherries on top. But I'm letting an intern watch this one.

By Terry Johnson
How will Purdue's passing defense - which ranks towards the bottom of the Big Ten - do against the Bronco offense that throws for 328 yards per game?

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
Don't think for a minute that Western Michigan can't play with Purdue. There should be a lot of points scored in this one.
Best Bowl Moments
Best Bronco Bowl Moment: Western Michigan's next bowl victory will be its first. The Broncos came close in the 1988 California Bowl, nearly shocking high-powered Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium before falling short, 35-30, to the passing of Mark Barsotti and the running of game MVP Darrell Rosette.

Best Boilermaker Bowl Moment: In its long history, Purdue has been to just a pair of Rose Bowls, winning one long before any current players were born. Back in 1966 when Bob Griese was barking out signals, the Boilermakers capped their first nine-win season in nearly a quarter century and a No. 6 ranking in the final polls by defeating USC 14-13.
Little Caesars (formerly the Motor City) Bowl History

2010 FIU 34, Toledo 32
2009 Marshall 21, Ohio 17
2008 Florida Atlantic 24, Central Mich, 21
2007 Purdue 51, Central Mich 48
2006 C. Michigan 31, Middle Tenn 14
2005 Memphis 38, Akron 31
2004 Connecticut 39, Toledo 10
2003 Bo. Green 28, Northwestern 24
2002 Boston College 51, Toledo 25
2001Toledo 23, Cincinnati 16
2000 Marshall 25, Cincinnati 14
1999 Marshall 21, BYU 3
1998 Marshall 48, Louisville 29
1997 Ole Miss 34, Marshall 31

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