There is nothing more prestigious than being invited to play and watching the Pizza Pizza Bowl on the day after the day after Christmas. Every single year, we struggle with letting go of Pepperoni Perfection. Especially when it involves some MACtion and a barely eligible bowl team that left a sour taste in Ohio State fans just over a month ago (They are Pumped in Indiana!). Gone is my prediction and hopes that Brady Hoke would meet “Ohio” at Ford Field in his initial season of cleaning up scUM. Wait, the Bobcats don’t need quotations. THEY ARE OHIO. Silly me…. I hate
blonde Hoke moments. Anyways, there is still a lot to look forward to from a team that loves their coach and another that is proud to holster the MAC’s greatest PAT kicker of all-time.
Seriously. We have a decent football game ahead of us on Tuesday.
The Basics: Tuesday, 4:30 PM ET on ESPN, from Detroit (Ford Field). Western Michigan (7-5, 5-3 MAC) and Purdue (6-6, 4-4 B1G).
The History: As much as I mocked this bowl in the opener, the last two games at Ford Field have been really exciting. Just a year ago, FIU hit the big time with their last second field goal win over Toledo. Mario Cristobal, who is the favorite to take over at Pitt, got his Panthers to consecutive bowl games despite losing to 2009 Little Caesars Pizza bowl selection Marshall last week. The battle for the Bell was yet another Pizza Pizza bowl that was entertaining early. Despite holding Marshall scoreless in the second half, Ohio couldn’t put enough together to beat their former MAC rival. It was also in 2009 that history was set by Sarah Thomas, who became the first female to officiate a bowl game.
Western Michigan – When your biggest moment as a team was beating UCONN, then you might be a mid-level MAC team. The Broncos are looking for their first bowl victory in school history, and despite winning three out of four down the stretch, 2011 was a letdown. Sure, there was the first victory over Central Michigan in five years, but there was also the loss to Eastern Michigan for the first time since 2007 and losses by three or less to Toledo and Illinois. There was high expectations for this squad, especially considering they have one of the best QB to WR tandems in college football with Alex Carder and Jordan White. Defensively though, they finished 12th out of 13 in the MAC conference. That’s despite MAC Defensive Player of the Year Drew Nowak, who had 8.5 sacks on the front line. Bill Cubit is a solid coach and the Broncos will be considered the “home team” just a few miles from Kalamazoo. They are teh 2 1/d point underdogs though.
Purdue – The Boilermakers have a lot of inspiration heading into this one, being overlooked by every single Big Ten bowl but this one. In their first post-season bowl since 2007, Danny Hope’s squad is lead by Caleb TerBush who will start over Robert Marve on Tuesday. Against one of the best passing teams in the country, the Boilermakers bring one of the best passing defenses to Detroit on Tuesday. Corner Ricardo Allen has been a lot of fun to watch. It’s still mind blowing that Hope received a contract extension because the only win to talk about on their schedule is the overtime upset against Ohio State. Their other wins are against the likes of Illinois, Southwest Missouri State, Indiana, Minnesota and Middle Tennessee State. There was a reason this team didn’t play a MAC team as well. Before this year, Hope went 2-2 against MAC opponents. Ralph Bolden leads a solid rushing attack that averages nearly 175 rushing yards per game. You never know what you are going to get from this team when it comes to consistency, but if they don’t play their spread style, they are going to have a tough time winning. This is the team that in one week loss to Rice and had to battle to fend off Indiana and become bowl eligible.
Fun Facts - Did you know that the Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl is the only post-season game in the Midwest. Despite being in the MAC, this is the first time in the 15 year history of the bowl that Western Michigan has played in the game. The Broncos will essentially have a home game and have drawn more ticket sales than Virginia Tech and Clemson have to their respected bowl games. Former Michigan State Spartan Head Coach George Perles is the CEO of the Pizza Bowl.
Who We Got?