Motor City Bowl
Dec. 26, 4:30 p.m. PST
Purdue (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (8-5)
Spread: Purdue – 9
Hooray, another rematch! We must’ve been really good this year because Santa brought us the first ever bowl season with two rematches from the regular season. I’m so filled with joy I could gouge out my eyes. At least Central Michigan has improved since the egg they laid on the road against this Purdue team in September. Purdue on the other hand, let their season slip away down the stretch.
Purdue isn’t a very good football team, even by Big 10 standards, which have been lowered this year from their lofty perch. The only bowl team Purdue beat all year was this Central Michigan team. After starting 5-0 loading up on the likes of Toledo, Eastern Illinois, Minnesota and Notre Dame, the Boilermakers fell hard and fast. Five of their final seven games were against teams bound for the post-season and wouldn’t you know it, they lost five of seven. Included among those games was a 17-point loss to Michigan State, a 27-point loss to Michigan and a three-point loss to Indiana, putting the Hoosiers in the Insight Bowl. If only they could play teams from Michigan not named Michigan or Michigan State more often.
Head coach Joe Tiller’s Purdue teams have been known for one thing, offense. This team is no different. Quarterback Curtis Painter has really improved since his sophomore season, especially in cutting down on turnovers. He’s next in a long line of great Purdue QB’s who have spent time playing in the No Fun League. He has an embarrassment of riches to throw to as six players have contributed significantly in the passing game. Wide receivers Dorien Bryant, Greg Orton, Selwyn Lymon and Jake Standeford, tight end Dustin Keller and running back Kory Sheets all had at least 27 catches.
Central Michigan’s secondary will probably focus on Bryant (82 catches, eight TD’s) but that will open up opportunities for the rest of the receiving corps. Bryant had a relatively average day in the first meeting with six catches. If Painter tries to force to ball to Bryant, who will be playing in his final collegiate game, the rest of the offense will suffer and CMU will be able to stay in the game. If the ball is spread around as it was in September, when Lymon recorded six receptions, then the rout will once again be on. Tailback Kory Sheets ran for a season high in yardage when the two teams played in September, if he can have similar success CMU linebackers will have too much to worry about.
The Boilermakers are atrocious defensively though, even in a conference where offenses have labored to put up points this season. Chippewa quarterback Dan LeFevour could be the benefactor of their inability to stop anyone. LeFevour is in elite company statistically. He is one of two players in division 1-A history to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000. The other is Vince Young.
He’s now led this team to two consecutive MAC championships and potentially two consecutive Motor City Bowl wins. Keep in mind he’s still a sophomore. He had 40 total TD’s this year, 17 of those rushing. His completion percentage is up to 66 percent and though he threw three more interceptions than last year, that can be attributed to throwing over 100 more passes. In the Purdue game he threw for 364 yards, largely because of the deficit, but he was held to just 26 yards rushing. If the Chippewas are going to have a chance in this game LeFevour must emerge as a running threat. They won’t be able to rely on the tandem of Justin Hoskins and Ontario Sneed to keep move the chains, although the emergence of Hoskins midway through the season certainly helped the offense. LeFevour will have to do much of the grunt work himself. This could be a statement game for him and what could be a strong Central Michigan team next year. If they three-peat as MAC champs and pull an upset or two in non-conference games they could be looking at a BCS appearance with LeFevour as an attraction for the big money bowl games.
It won’t be a matter of playing defense because neither team can. This game should be fun to watch with two pro prospects at quarterback airing it out all night. I think CMU is excited to get their shot at a rematch and will take full advantage.
Central Michigan 48 - Purdue 45