The 2011 college football bowl season rolls on after Christmas this week with the Western Michigan Broncos (7-5) of the Mid American Conference traveling to Detroit, MI to take on the Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) of the Big Ten this Tuesday afternoon (4:30pm ET) in the Little Caesars Bowl. Western Michigan won their last two regular season games, including a 68-19 blowout over Akron on November 25 to conclude the season. Purdue also won their finale at in-state rival Indiana by a score of 33-25 on November the 26, pushing on an 8 point line. The Broncos are 8-4 ATS this season, while the Boilermakers are 5-6-1 ATS.
The Broncos offense has been one of the most prolific in the country this season, ranking 18th in scoring with an average of 35.6 points per contest and 22nd in total offense with an average of 456.2 yards per game. The Bronco defense has not been as strong however, ranking 73rd in scoring defense with 28 PPG allowed and 100th in total defense with 434.1 YPG allowed on average. Their run defense has been abysmal, allowing 215.9 YPG on the ground, 107th best in the country. Purdue averages 26.1 PPG on offense (68th in the nation) and 371.4 YPG (79th in the nation), with an emphasis on the running game with 174.8 YPG (39th nationally). Lead running back Ralph Bolden (674 rushing yards) suffered a knee injury in the finale against Indiana, and is not expected to play in this game. The Boilermaker defense has allowed 26.4 PPG (65th nationally) and an average of 388.2 YPG to rank 68th in the nation.
Western Michigan vs. Purdue Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Western Michigan Broncos +3
@Purdue Boilermakers -3
Over 61.5 (-110)
Under 61.5 (-110)
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Western Michigan vs. Purdue Pick:
Western Michigan is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall and 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games. Purdue is 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 bowl games. The over is 6-2 in Western Michigan’s last 8 games overall and 5-2 in their last 7 games on fieldturf. The under is 5-2-1 in Purdue’s last 8 non-conference games and the over is 7-3-1 in their last 11 games against the Mid American Conference. The two teams have no recent meetings, and last met in 2002 when the Boilermakers won 28-24 in West Lafayette, failing to cover a 17 point line.
WMU and Purdue have both been vulnerable on defense against the run, ranking 107th and 90th respectively in the nation in that category. WMU does not run the ball particularly well (127.4 YPG, 86th nationally) and Purdue will be hurt by the loss of Bolden on offense. This means that both teams will be taking to the air in the climate-controlled dome environment, and Western Michigan can certainly throw the ball with the best of them behind quarterback Alex Carder (3,434 yards passing, 28 TDs, 10 INTs) who has thrown for over 400 yards four times this season, is expected to play despite suffering a separated throwing shoulder against Miami (OH) on November 16. Carder’s top target is receiver Jordan White, who leads the nation in receptions (127), yards (1,646) and TDs (16). The ball will be in the air quite a bit and both teams should score over their averages on offense in a bowl game where they are likely to pull some new plays out of the trick bag with ample time to prepare for the game. The combination of good offense and bad defense for Western Michigan in particular, should make for an entertaining game and a high scoring bowl game. The Broncos are a good bet on the spread as well as a slight favorite, but their anemic defense makes the over a safer play. Take the over here.