MAC Bowls for December 27 & 28
Little Caesars Bowl
Western Michigan vs. Purdue
- Western Michigan
- The Broncos rank among the national leaders in scoring (35.6 ppg) and passing (328.8 ypg).
- Western Michigan has lost each of its previous four bowl appearances, most recently in 2008 to Rice in the Texas Bowl.
- The Broncos are led by All-American receiver Jordan White, who leads the nation with 127 receptions for 1,646 yards. The senior has 16 touchdown catches, including nine over the last four games while averaging 163.5 yards; with 3,922 career receiving yards, White is 110 shy of becoming the MAC’s all-time leader.
- Alex Carder will be back throwing to White after missing the Broncos’ 68-19 victory over Akron in their regular season finale with a separated shoulder. Despite missing that game, Carder ranked among the top 20 quarterbacks nationally in yards (3,434), touchdowns (28) and completion percentage (67.2).
- Western ranked second-to-last in the MAC in total defense giving up 434.1 yards per game, tackle Drew Nowak was named the league’s defensive player of the year after recording 20 tackles for loss.
- The Boilermakers totaled 80 points in the final three contests, converting 52.7 percent of their third downs, after scoring 70 in the previous four while making 27.5 percent on third down.
- Defensively, the Boilermakers boast one of the best interior defenders in the nation in Kawann Short. The junior ranked 13th nationally with 17 tackles for loss and was tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 6 1/2 sacks.
- Purdue did give up 26.4 points per game to rank near the bottom of the Big Ten.
- The Boilermakers, 8-7 in bowl games, are making their first postseason appearance since beating Central Michigan 51-48 in the 2007 Motor City Bowl at Ford Field.
- Western lost at Michigan and Illinois this season and have dropped six straight to Big Ten opponents since a 23-17 win over the Illini at Ford Field on Nov. 8, 2008; Purdue and Western Michigan will match up for the third time ever; the Boilermakers won 28-24 at home in the most recent meeting in 2002.
Nick’s Pick: Purdue 41 – Western 37
Comment: Expect an offensive showdown in Detroit was the Broncos can score points; unfortunately they also give up a ton. Western can win this game but they have yet to win a bowl game in their long football history.
Air Force vs. Toledo
- Air Force
- The Falcons’ are a strong running team via the triple option; Air Force is second in the FBS in rushing at 320.3 yards a contest.
- Asher Clark leads the way with 1,096 rushing yards, while Mike DeWitt has run for 543 and Jefferson 492. DeWitt and Jefferson are tied with a team-high 10 rushing TDs, and Air Force has run for 38 scores - fourth in the FBS.
- Air Force may have to rely on the pass a bit more because Toledo has been solid against the run allowing an average of 123.2 yards…but their pass defense has been terrible ranking 109th out of 120 FBS schools in pass defense at 278 ypg.
- The teams had a common opponent this season, each losing to Boise State. The Rockets suffered a 40-15 home defeat to the Broncos on Sept. 16, and the Falcons lost 37-26 on the road Oct. 22.
- The Rockets averaged 42.3 points this season - best in the Mid-American Conference and eighth nationally - and since the start of November, they’ve averaged an FBS-best 53.8.
- Running a spread offense the Rockets averaged 221.2 yards rushing and 272.0 passing, one of 14 FBS schools above 200 in both categories.
- WR Eric Page is third in the nation with 112 receptions for 1,123 yards and 10 TDs.
- Toledo ’s ground game has also excelled with Adonis Thomas amassing 648 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in his last four games. Thomas leads the Rockets in rushing with 963 yards and is tied with Morgan Williams for the team lead with 11 touchdown runs; Thomas and Williams could be poised for big games against Air Force, which ranks 113th against the run at 227.8 yards a game.
Nick’s Pick: Air Force 41 – Toledo 40
Comment: The Rockets can really light up the score board but a suspect defense playing against a very disciplined and efficient offense may be the difference. If the Rockets can eliminate turnovers and penalties they will win; they have yet to really show that sort of discipline this season against the better teams on their schedule.