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PURDUE TO FACE WESTERN MICHIGAN IN 2011 LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL

Boilermakers make their second appearance in the Detroit bowl; Broncos to appear in Detroit bowl for the first time

DETROIT – The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl announced today that the Purdue Boilermakers of the Big Ten will meet the Western Michigan Broncos of the Mid-American Conference on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 (4:30pm – ESPN) in Detroit.

Western Michigan enters the bowl with a 7 – 5 record, winning three out of its last four games and owning a 38 - 31 win over Connecticut (UConn) of the Big East Conference during the season.

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Purdue’s Boilermakers enter the bowl with a 6 – 6 record, winning two of its last three games including an impressive win over perennial national power, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

“We are excited to have Purdue and Western Michigan in the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Both teams have significant fan bases and will no doubt bring that support with them to Detroit,” said CEO & Executive Director Ken Hoffman. “The Boilermakers played in a very competitive Big Ten this season that produced ten bowl eligible teams.

WMU played a non-conference schedule that included Michigan in Ann Arbor, Illinois in Champagne, and a win at UConn. We expect an outstanding game, with Purdue having averaged more than 26 points and Western Michigan averaging over 35 points per game, including averaging 50 point in their last four games.”

The Broncos posted a 2-2 record against nonconference opponents this season. They are led by the nation’s leading receiver Jordan White, who leads the FBS in total receiving yards (1,646), receiving yards per game (137.17), total receptions (127) and receptions per game (10.58). Quarterback Alex Carder surpassed his yardage total from last season (3,434) and has been prolific with TD passes (29). Defensive tackle Drew Nowak was the 2011 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, ranking fifth in the FBS in tackles per loss per game (1.67) and fourth in total TFLs (20.0).

“On behalf of Western Michigan University, our Football team and 114,500 alumni living in Michigan (with 33,000 of those calling metro Detroit home), we are honored to accept the invitation to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl,” commented WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard. “We’re proud to represent the Mid-American Conference against a prominent Big Ten opponent in Purdue, in front of a national audience on December 27. It is definitely a great day to be a Bronco!”

The Boilermakers posted a 2-2 record against nonconference foes in 2011. Purdue boasts the nation’s best kickoff return team (27.5 yard average) and one of the most dynamic freshmen in Raheem Mostert, who leads the Big Ten with a 31.0-yard average. The quarterback duo of Miami-transfer Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush has combined to complete 60 percent of their passes (2,361 yards, 15 touchdowns). Defensive tackle Kawann Short, Jr. tied for third in Big Ten and 13th nationally in tackles for loss (17) and tied for fourth in the conference in sacks (6.5). Kicker Carson Wiggs ranks second in the Big Ten in field goals (16-21) and has made his last nine.

"Our goal was to play one more game this year, and we will use this game against Western Michigan as a springboard into the 2012 season,” Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke said. “We’re excited to return to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. There are nearly 200,000 Purdue alumni within a four-hour drive of Detroit, and this game will provide a great opportunity for them to get together, root on the Boilermakers and share some holiday cheer. We had a great time and an exciting game in 2007, and look forward to another one this year.”

Purdue’s appearance will be the third by a Big Ten Conference team in the Detroit bowl and Purdue’s second. Northwestern, with San Diego Charger defensive lineman Luis Castillo and Pittsburgh Steeler offensive tackle Trai Essex, competed against 25th ranked Bowling Green in 2003. Purdue, led by New York Jets Tight End Dustin Keller and Detroit Lions Linebacker Cliff Avril, played against Central Michigan in the bowl in 2007.

Western Michigan’s appearance will be its first appearance in the Detroit bowl, although the MAC has been represented in each year of the bowl. Under Head Coach Bill Cubit, the Broncos have been bowl eligible five times over the past seven seasons. The Broncos, with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back E.J. Biggers, played in the 2007 International Bowl in Toronto. They also competed in the 2008 Texas Bowl.

"We are doubly excited about the national promotions and enhancements planned through Little Caesars Pizza, our title sponsor,” said Ken Hoffman. “These exciting activities will make this an exceptional bowl experience for players and fans."

The 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl will be played before a national television audience on ESPN. The game will be in downtown Detroit’s Ford Field for the tenth consecutive season, after five years at the Pontiac Silverdome.

The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is now in its 15th year of bringing major college football bowl action to football fans across the country during the holiday season. From 1997 through 2008 the bowl was known as the Motor City Bowl. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is the only major college football bowl game located in the Midwest United States.

Tickets are now on sale at TicketMaster outlets or by calling 248-645-6666. Tickets are also on sale at the Ford Field Box Office and at the Purdue University and Western Michigan University athletic ticket offices.

The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl website is located at www.littlecaesarspizzabowl.com. 

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