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Courtesy: Mike Naylor

WMU Football Accepts Invitation to the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Courtesy: Mat Kanan, director of athletic media relations
Release: 12/04/2011
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Little Caesars Bowl committee announced on Sunday evening that this year’s game will match Western Michigan against Purdue.  It is the first time the Broncos are participating in the postseason bowl and WMU’s third bowl game in the past five seasons under head coach Bill Cubit.  The game will take place at 4:30 p.m., EST on Dec. 27 and will be televised on ESPN, and will match the Mid-American Conference against the Big Ten for the third time in the existence of the bowl.

“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 front of a national audience on December 27.  It is definitely a great day to be a Bronco.”

Western Michigan enters its bowl game with a record of 7-5 and with an offense that ranks in the top 20 in passing (8th), passing efficiency (14th) and scoring (18th).  The Broncos boast All-America candidate Jordan White, who leads the nation in total receiving yards (1,646), receiving yards per game (137.17), total receptions (127) and receptions per game (10.58); he also ranks second in the FBS in receiving TDs (16).  White holds all but three receiving records at Western Michigan and is 110 yards from becoming the MAC’s most prolific receiver in terms of career receiving yards.

The Broncos also boast the 2011 MAC Defensive Player of the Year in senior defensive tackle Drew Nowak.  Nowak ranks fifth in the FBS in tackles per loss per game (1.67) and fourth in total TFLs (20.0).  The Green Bay, Wis., native closed out his regular season with 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in WMU’s final two games leading up to the bowl game.  He is fifth Bronco to earn MAC Defensive Player of the Year and first since Ameer Ismail in 2006.

Quarterback Alex Carder is among the nation’s best, ranking seventh in the FBS in completions per game (27.18) and leading the MAC with 312.2 passing yards per game.  Carder twice broke the program record for passing yards in a game and tied the MAC record for passing TDs in a game on Nov. 8 at Toledo.

“I want to thank the Ken Hoffman and the entire Little Caesars Pizza Bowl selection committee as well as our athletic administration for working hard to get the Broncos into this bowl.  We are very excited to participate in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl for the first time and face such a great Big Ten representative,” commented Cubit.

Purdue ended the regular season 6-6 and 4-4 in the Big Ten, finishing third in the Leaders Division behind 2011 Big Ten champion Wisconsin and Penn State.  The Boilermakers claimed a 33-25 victory over Indiana on the final week of the season to earn bowl eligibility.

This will be the third ever meeting between WMU and Purdue with the last meeting taking place on Sept. 14, 2002 and resulting in a 28-24 Boilermaker win.  The Broncos trail the all-time series, 0-2-0.

History of the MAC and the Little Caesars Bowl
1997 - Marshall vs. Mississippi - L, 31-34 *
1998 - Marshall vs. Louiville - W, 48-29 *
1999 - Marshall vs. BYU - W, 21-3 *
2000 - Marshall vs. Cincinnati - W, 25-14 *
2001 - Toledo vs. Cincinnati - W, 23-16 ^
2002 - Toledo vs. Boston College - L, 25-51 ^
2003 - BGSU vs. Northwestern - W, 28-24 ^
2004 - Toledo vs. Connecticut - L, 10-39 ^
2005 - Akron vs. Memphis - L, 31-38 ^
2006 - CMU vs. Middle Tennessee State - W, 31-14 ^
2007 - CMU vs. Purdue - L, 48-51 ^
2008 - CMU vs. Florida Atlantic - L, 21-24 ^
2009 - Ohio vs. Marshall - L, 17-21
2010 - Toledo vs. Florida International - L, 32-34

* Marshall left the MAC after the 2004 season
^ Bowl originally referred to as the Motor City Bowl