CFN Little Caesars Analysis - CMU 24, WKU 21
Posted Dec 27, 2012

The instant analysis and reaction to the Little Caesars Bowl

- Little Caesars - CMU 24, WKU 21

Oh those interim head coaches. Western Kentucky had a shot to tie the game late to put it into overtime on a 36-yard field goal attempt, but instead, interim head man Lance Guidry decided to go for it on 4th-and-two with under a minute to play. QB Kawaun Jakes misfired on his throw, and CMU came away with the win. Zurlon Tipton ran for 102 yards for the Chippewas, but it was Andrew Flory who made big things happen early with a 69-yard touchdown catch and a 29-yard pass play in the first quarter. WKU got a touchdown run and a scoring pass from Jakes, and Kadeem Jones gave the team the lead on a one-yard scoring run for a Hilltopper lead late in the third, but Ryan Radcliff marched CMU late with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Cody Wilson and the D held on.

Central Michigan: RB Zurlon Tipton ran 23 times for 101 yards. … QB Ryan Radcliff completed 19-of-29 passes for 253 yards and three scores. … WR Cody Wilson caught ten passes for 101 yards and a score, Andrew Flory caught three passes for 105 yards and two scores. … P Richie Hogan averaged 57.3 yards per punt, putting two inside the 20, helped by an 82-yarder. … LB Shomari Benton led the team with nine tackles with a broken up pass.

Western Kentucky: QB Kawaun Jakes completed 14-of-24 passes for 199 yards and a score and ran for a score. … RB Antonio Andrews fell short of breaking Barry Sanders' record for total yardage. He ran 27 times for 119 yards, caught three passes for 21 yards, returned a punt for four yards and two kickoffs for 49 yards. … S Jonathan Dowling made eight tackles with a tackle for loss and a broken up pass.

Richard Cirminiello

What are you thinking, Lance? Interim Western Kentucky head man Lance Guidry was coaching with nothing to lose, but you've absolutely got to attempt the potential game-tying 36-yarder with under a minute left; going for it on fourth-and-two makes no sense at all. PK Garrett Schwettman is a rookie, but he has hit 10 of his last 12 field goal attempts.

As long as players like Central Michigan RB Zurlon Tipton are being overlooked by major programs—or blooming late—teams from the MAC and the Sun Belt will be just fine. Tipton is a legit Big Ten back, with excellent hips and cuts, who just happens to be playing in one of the FBS' smaller divisions.

Never underestimate the value of a bowl game involving two teams that really, really want to get out of town with a victory. Central Michigan and Western Kentucky began the night with two combined postseason wins at the FBS level, adding intrigue and intensity to a matchup that entertained throughout.

No disrespect to Hilltoppers RB Antonio Andrews, but I'm thrilled he didn't snap Barry Sanders' single-season record for all-purpose yards. I'll boycott every single-season and career mark until the NCAA comes to its senses and finally adds back bowl statistics of former players. Not doing so is completely nonsensical.

Too bad Western Kentucky star DE Quanterus Smith was injured for this game. He's the Hilltopper who schooled the vaunted Alabama O-line earlier in the year. It would've been a treat to see him go up against an Eric Fisher-led O-line that did a terrific job of moving the pile in Detroit.

Hats off to Chippewas' QB Ryan Radcliff, who was outstanding in the victory. Not only did he throw three touchdown passes without a pick, but he helped elevate a depleted receiving corps that was missing two suspended players, including top threat Titus Davis.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

Yes, Western Kentucky should have kicked a FG and played for overtime. Everyone knew that the Hilltoppers were going throw to Jack Doyle (who had four CMU defenders covering him), because they couldn't pick up the first down on the ground.

The game ball goes to the Central Michigan defense. Sure, Antonio Andrews went over 100 yards, but the Chippewa front seven took over the game in the fourth quarter, limiting him to just eight yards in the final stanza. That's an outstanding effort from a unit that ranked 98th nationally against the run.

Tonight's bowl victory ought to silence Dan Enos' critics during the offseason. While winning the Little Caesar's Bowl might not seem like a big deal, it's important to note that he did it without two of his top receivers in the lineup.

Keep an eye on CMU's Andrew Flory next fall. Based on the way he exploded on to the scene in the last three games, including another 100-yard effort tonight, he could be one of the top targets in the MAC next season.

It's only fitting that Ryan Radcliff's up-and-down career ended with a well-thrown TD pass. With almost 10,000 yards passing in his three years as a starter, he's sure to get a look at the professional level.

Even though it lost tonight, Western Kentucky has to be encouraged with the progress it has made since making the jump to the FBS back in 2007. With Bobby Petrino taking over -- even if it is for just one season -- the Hilltoppers should contend for the Sun Belt championship every year.