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December 25, 2007

Motor City Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Purdue

Motor City Bowl: Who has the edge? | Bowl rematches | Bowl Central | Bowl schedule

Central Michigan (8-5) vs. Purdue (7-5)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Dec. 26.
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit.
WEATHER: Domed stadium.
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch will do play-by-play, with Andre Ware as the analyst).
THE LINE: Purdue by 9.
RECORDS VS. BOWL TEAMS: Central Michigan 1-3, Purdue 1-5.
RECORD VS. BCS TOP 25: Central Michigan 0-2, Purdue 0-1.
BCS RANK: Central Michigan N/A, Purdue N/A.
SCHEDULE STRENGTH: Central Michigan 101st, Purdue T-45th.
COACHES: Central Michigan—Butch Jones (First bowl); Purdue—Joe Tiller (3-7 in bowls).
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Well, if you're into rematches, you'll like this (Purdue won 45-22 on Sept. 15). Truth be told, the potential exists for a lot of points, which means it could be entertaining.
KEY STAT: Central Michigan was outscored 167-43 in three games against BCS-league schools, including that 45-22 loss at Purdue. Of the Boilermakers' seven victories, just one – over Central Michigan – came against a team with a winning record.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Central Michigan sophomore QB Dan LeFevour has thrown for 3,360 yards (with 23 TDs and 13 picks) and run for 1,008 yards (and 17 TDs). He is just the second player in Division I-A history to pass for 3,000 and run for 1,000 in the same season. The other is Vince Young. In the Sept. 15 game against the Boilers, LeFevour threw for 364 yards but ran for just 26.

Bowl season ought to give TV viewers a break now that the Writers Guild strike has forced them to watch old episodes of their favorite shows.

Unfortunately, even bowl season doesn't offer a respite from reruns.

The 2007 schedule includes two matchups – BYU-UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl and Purdue-Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl – that took place during the regular season. This marks the first time in history that two bowls in one season have offered rematches, the 2007 official NCAA record book shows.

Ever since these rematches were announced, the teams have tried to put their best spin on the situation.

Nonetheless, it seems rather unusual to schedule rematches of games that weren't particularly interesting the first time around. UCLA beat BYU 27-17 on Sept. 8, while Purdue trounced Central Michigan 45-22 one week later.

The Las Vegas Bowl was somewhat vindicated in its decision to stage a rematch when BYU blocked a field goal as time expired to preserve a 17-16 victory over UCLA on Saturday.

Making the selections more questionable, these two matchups will take place again early next season. UCLA plays at BYU on Sept. 6, and Central Michigan heads to Purdue one week later.

Rematches are unusual – but not unprecedented – in bowl season.

When Florida State rallied from a 28-point deficit to tie Florida 31-31 in 1993, the Sugar Bowl paired them again and billed the rematch as "The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter." They staged another rematch in the Sugar Bowl three years later, when the Gators won their first national title by avenging a regular-season loss to the Seminoles.

The first rematch took place because it gave the teams a chance to settle a regular-season tie. The second one occurred after Texas' upset of Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game prevented a potential Florida State-Nebraska showdown for the national title in the Orange Bowl.

But there didn't seem to be a compelling reason for this season's rematches. The limits of bowl tie-ins and the demands for gate attractions helped sway the decisions of Motor City officials.

Central Michigan also has a revenge motive. The Chippewas fell behind 24-0 in the first quarter on their way to a 45-22 loss at Purdue on Sept. 15. That begs the question of why the Motor City Bowl saw fit to stage a rematch of a game that was so one-sided three months ago.

"Even though it's a rematch, what's compelling about it is three months ago it was in West Lafayette with a (Central Michigan) team that was in its first month of a new coaching staff," Motor City Bowl executive director Ken Hoffman said. "Now that team has come together, they're the Mid-American Conference champions, they're three more months into the program with their new coaching staff, they'll have the incentive to play better than they did the first time around and this time it's in front of their fans rather than Purdue fans."

That large Central Michigan fan contingent is a big reason this rematch is taking place. The Motor City Bowl had the seventh pick from the Big Ten and selected Purdue, the only conference team with a winning record that hadn't already been chosen by another bowl.

The Motor City chose Central Michigan as its MAC representative even though the Chippewas already had played Purdue this season and appeared in the Motor City Bowl last season.

History gives Central Michigan reason to feel confident they can earn revenge in their bowl. A look at the 15 previous regular-season rematches in bowls shows that the regular-season loser has won the bowl more often than the regular-season winner.
YearBowlRegular-Season ResultBowl Result
1943OrangeTexas A&M 28, LSU 13LSU 19, Texas A&M 14
1945GatorS. Carolina 13,
Wake Forest 13
Wake Forest 26,
S. Carolina 14
1956RoseIowa 14, Oregon St. 13Iowa 35, Oregon St. 19
1959SugarLSU 7, Ole Miss 3Ole Miss 21, LSU 0
1965RoseMichigan St. 13, UCLA 3UCLA 14, Michigan St. 12
1975RoseOhio State 41, UCLA 20UCLA 23, Ohio State 10
1978OrangeNebraska 17, Oklahoma 14Oklahoma 31, Nebraska 24
1982RoseUCLA 31, Michigan 27UCLA 24, Michigan 14
1987RoseMichigan St. 27, USC 13Michigan St. 20, USC 17
1994SugarFlorida 31, Florida St. 31Florida St. 23, Florida 17
1995Las VegasToledo 49, Nevada 35Toledo 40, Nevada 37 (OT)
1996SugarFlorida St. 24, Florida 21Florida 52, Florida St. 20
1997IndependenceNotre Dame 24, LSU 6LSU 27, Notre Dame 9
2003OrangeMiami 22, Florida St. 14Miami 16, Florida St. 14
2007Las VegasUCLA 27, BYU 17BYU 17, UCLA 16
Source: NCAA
Hoffman wanted the MAC champ and pointed out that Central Michigan's proximity to Detroit also played a part in his decision. CMU helped the Motor City Bowl draw a record crowd of 54,113 last season, when the Chippewas beat Middle Tennessee State 31-14.

"We will likely have 55,000 (fans)," Hoffman said, "and I think 40,000 of those will be Central Michigan fans."

While the revenge motive might seem like all Central Michigan needs, linebacker Ike Brown said the chance to beat a Big Ten program means more than the possibility of avenging a regular-season loss. The Chippewas (8-5) lost their three regular-season games against BCS foes by an average margin of 41 points.

"You really don't get that recognition when we beat a team in our conference," Brown said. "If you beat a BCS school, that's when you get that recognition. That's what we want to do."

While it might seem a bit unfair for Purdue (7-5) to play a bowl against a team it already beat soundly this season, the Boilermakers are putting their own spin on the possibility of revenge. Purdue cornerback Terrell Vinson believes the Boilers' defense also needs to make amends for its second-half performance in the Sept. 15 victory.

"We were up 31-0 and let them come back and score 22 points in the second half," Vinson said. "We have a lot of incentive as well."

And if he's upset about having to play Central Michigan again, Vinson isn't letting it show.

"We're just happy to make a bowl," Vinson said.

While Vinson may not care whether he's facing a team he already has seen before, bowl officials can only hope that fans and TV audiences feel the same way.

Motor City Bowl: MIke Huguenin breaks it down
Central Michigan run offense vs. Purdue run defense
EDGE: Purdue QB Dan LeFevour, who had four 100-yard games, is CMU's leading rusher. He has 17 rushing TDs. TBs Justin Hoskins and Ontario Sneed have combined for 1,133 yards and 16 TDs. Purdue's run defense is nothing special, but in the first meeting the Boilermakers held CMU to 101 rushing yards. Purdue's linebackers will be under pressure to make sure LeFevour doesn't get to turn the corner too often.
Central Michigan pass offense vs. Purdue pass defense
EDGE: Central Michigan LeFevour averages 258.5 passing yards per game, and WRs Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown have combined for 181 receptions, 1,912 yards and 12 TDs. Four other Chippewas also have at least 20 receptions. LeFevour throws a few too many picks (13), though. While Purdue gives up a lot of yards through the air (235.9 yards per game), it has allowed just 15 TD passes (in 476 attempts) and has 14 picks. CMU threw for 364 yards and two TDs in the earlier meeting.
Purdue run offense vs. Central Michigan run defense
EDGE: Purdue The Boilermakers have the fewest rushing attempts in the Big Ten and have thrown the ball 154 times more than they've run it. That said, TBs Kory Sheets and Jaycen Taylor are an able duo. The Chippewas' run defense isn't a strength. LB Red Keith, one of the best players at his position in the MAC, needs to make his presence felt in the running game. Purdue ran for 223 yards and three TDs in the earlier meeting.
Purdue pass offense vs. Central Michigan pass defense
EDGE: Purdue Junior quarterback Curtis Painter has had a good season, throwing for 3,300 yards with 26 TDs and nine interceptions. While he struggled against good pass defenses, CMU doesn't have a good pass defense. WR Dorien Bryant is the go-to receiver, and Dustin Keller is one of the most productive tight ends in the nation. CMU has allowed six teams to throw for 300 yards and another three to throw for at least 250. Purdue threw for 360 and three TDs in the earlier meeting.
Central Michigan special teams vs. Purdue special teams
EDGE: Purdue Brown, a freshman, already is one of the best return men in the MAC. He averages 27.7 yards per attempt on kickoff returns, and returned one for a TD. He also is a solid punt returner. CMU is weak in the kicking game, though, and has a mediocre punt-coverage unit. The kickoff-coverage unit is solid. As good as Brown is on kick returns, Bryant is even better; he averages 29.5 yards per pop and has taken two back for scores. Desmond Tardy also has a kick-return TD. Bryant has struggled on punt returns, though, averaging 4.5 per attempt. Purdue's coverage units have been superb, and kicker Chris Summers and punter Jared Armstrong have been solid. They give Purdue a big advantage over their CMU counterparts.
Central Michigan coaching staff vs. Purdue coaching staff
EDGE: Purdue Butch Jones, who was an assistant for Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia when he was hired by CMU after last season, has fine-tuned the offense to the point where LeFevour should enter next season as one of the nation's top 20 quarterbacks. But CMU's defense needs a lot of work. Joe Tiller is in his 11th season and this is his 10th bowl with the Boilermakers. While Purdue has won just once in its past seven bowl trips, Tiller deserves credit for developing a consistent program.
Central Michigan will win if
It's all on LeFevour. CMU likely is going to have to score a lot to win this, because its defense won't be able to stop Purdue (assuming Purdue's offense cares about the outcome). If LeFevour has success on the ground, Purdue is in trouble.
Purdue will win if
If the Boilermakers show up ready to play, they should win – and perhaps by as many as two TDs. Their offensive line should control the line of scrimmage, and if Sheets and Taylor run effectively, Painter will have a lot of success throwing the ball downfield. Defensively, the Boilermakers can't let LeFevour have success on the ground.
Purdue won quite easily in the first game between the teams. How psyched are the Boilermakers going to be for this rematch?
The picks
Huguenin's pick: Purdue 35-28
Other Rivals.com expert picks:
Olin Buchanan, national college football writer: Purdue 42-38
Steve Megargee, national college football writer: Purdue 38-28
Bill King, Rivals Radio host: Purdue 38-31
Check out the rest of the Rivals.com Expert Picks.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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