2012 Little Caesars' Bowl CMU vs. W. Kentucky: TV Info, Predictions and More
The Central Michigan Chippewas versus the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers may not be the sexiest matchup of the college bowl season, but it's one that could get interesting given the right circumstances.
For one, the two teams meet Dec. 26 in the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, home of the NFL's Detroit Lions. If that environment doesn't get teams up to play, not much else will.
It doesn't work so well for the Lions, but it may get the college kids pumped with enthusiasm. That's the idea, anyway.
The Chips (6-6, 4-4) finished fourth in the MId-American Conference's West Division, while the Hilltoppers (7-5, 4-4) took fourth in the Sun Belt.
Central Michigan has played in the Pizza Bowl thrice, but this year is the first for postseason action for Western Kentucky since joining college football's top tier in 2009.
Game Day Info
Who: Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
When: Dec. 26 (7:30 p.m., EDT)
Stadium: Ford Field
Radio: ESPN Radio
Internet Stream: CBSSports.com
Depth Chart for Central Michigan
Depth chart information accurate as of Dec. 3
QB: Ryan Radcliff, Cody Kater, Alex Niznak; RB: Zurlon Tipton, Anthony Garland, Saylor Lavallii; WR: Courtney Williams, Jesse Kroll; WR: Titus Davis, Andrew Flory; WR: Cody Wilson, Jordan McConnell; TE: Caleb Southworth, Ben McCord; OT: Eric Fisher, Ramadan Ahmeti; OT: Mike Repovz, Kevin Henry; OG: Andy Phillips, Mike Repovz; OG: Darren Keyton, Cody Pettit; C: Nick Beamish, Andy Phillips, Aaron McCord
DE: Joe Kinville, Steve Winston; DT: Jabari Dean, Louis Palmer; NT: Leterrius Walton, Matt Losiniecki; Caesar Rodriguez, Kenny McClendon; LB: Justin Cherocci, Cody Lopez, Ryan Petro; LB: Shamari Benton, Tim Hamilton; S: Jahleel Addae, Denzel Wimberly; S: Jarrett Chapman; Kavon Frazier; CB: Anthony Young, Jason Wilson; CB: Lorenzo White, Taylor Bradley; S: Avery Cunningham, Brandon Greer
P: Richie Hogan, Curtis Huge, Ron Coluzzi; PR: Cody Wilson, Titus Wilson; K: David Harman, Ron Coluzzi; KR: Courtney Williams, Saylor Lavallii; LS: Mike Zenk, Nick Adams; H: Cody Wilson, Connor Gagnon
Depth Chart for Western Kentucky
Depth chart information accurate as of Dec. 3
QB: Kawaun Jones, James Mauro; RB: Antonio Andrews, Leon Allen; FB: Kadeem Jones, Demetrius Coley; WR: Marcus Vasquez, Boe Brand; WR: Willie McNeal, Austin Aikens; TE: Jack Doyle, Ryan Wallace; OT: Cameron Clemmons, Delryn Wilson; OT: Seth White, Ed Hazelett; OG: Luis Polanco, Forrest Lamp; OG: Adam Smith, Cliff Burns; C: Sean Conway, Luke Stansfield
DE: Cole Tischer, Calvin Washington; DE: Quanterus Smith, Gavin Rocker; DT: Jamarucs Allen, Bryan Shorter, Rammell Lewis, Kenny Martin; LB: Tye Golden, Bar'ee Boyd; LB: Xavius Boyd, D. Washington; LB: Andrew Jackson, Daqual Randall; CB: Tyree Robinson, Cam Thomas; CB: Arius Wright, Brett Harrington; S: Kiante Young, Vince Williams; S: Jonathan Dowling, Kareem Peterson
H: H. Brakefield, PR: Antonio Andrews, Willie McNeal; KR: Antonio Andrews, Tyree Robinson; K: G. Schwettman, Jesse Roy; P: Brakefield, Roy; LS: Ryan Wallace, Nolan Dowling
What Happened to Central Michigan Last Week
Zurlon Tipton was enough for the Central Michigan Chippewas to dispose of the UMass Minutemen, 42-21, in the season finale.
Tipton cruised for 185 yards and four touchdowns, finishing the year with 20 touchdowns (19 rushing) that tied him with Chips legend Dan LeFevour, who had 20 touchdowns in 2007.
Tipton had six straight games of 100 or more yards, helping him reach 1,391 yards on the year, the seventh-best total in Mt. Pleasant.
What Happened to Western Kentucky Last Week
Antonio Andrews brings a lot to the table, namely an incredible ability to run, run, run.
He rushed for 230 yards in the Hilltoppers' 25-24 season-closing win over North Texas, including a 21-yard, game-winning touchdown.
Down 24-10, the Hilltoppers came through with a timely stop on fourth down to help ensure the victory. The win halted a three-game losing streak for Western Kentucky, which enters its first bowl game since joining the FBS in 2009.
What It Means to Both Teams
With a win, the Chippewas could even their Pizza Bowl record at 2-2 and send off their seniors on a high note. Guys like Cody Wilson, Mike Repovz and Jahleel Addae would probably appreciate that.
For Western Kentucky, it's pretty simple: first FBS bowl game becomes a must-win.
Beating Central Michigan would be a great moment for the Hilltoppers program.
Key Player for Central Michigan
Zurlon Tipton was one of the most complete running backs in the MAC this year, rushing for 1,391 yards (fourth in MAC) and a league-leading 19 touchdowns.
He's the guy the Hilltoppers want to center around. One blown tackle could result in a big play—and Tipton has had his share. Stopping a guy who averages six yards a carry should be the main concern, but the Chippewas have receiver Cody Wilson to rely on, too.
Wilson has had catches in 41 straight games. It's safe to say that he'll be targeted.
Key Player for Western Kentucky
The NCAA rushing leaderboard had plenty of players from mid-majors appear on it, but Antonio Andrews may have been the most explosive and well-rounded athletes on that list.
Like Tipton, Andrews was a tremendous asset to his team, rushing for 1,609 yards and 21 touchdowns.
He can return kicks, punts and basically handle any duties thrown his way. He is, without a doubt, the Hilltoppers' most potent threat.
Central Michigan Will Win If...
As mentioned, Zurlon Tipton is the gas to the Chips' offense. He has to dictate the tempo with his feet, make plays on the run and keep Central Michigan balanced.
Having Cody Wilson as a threat always helps—he rounds out a talented receiving corps and sees action on special teams. If there is to be any trickeration, it'll likely be Wilson doing the tricking for the Chips.
Western Kentucky Will Win If..
Central Michigan can't let Antonio Andrews dominate the Pizza Bowl.
Seems like a rather mundane game plan, but ask North Texas about Andrews.
North Texas "held" Andrews to 230 yards, but still lost 25-24.
Yup, you guessed it.
Andrews was the difference-maker in that situation, breaking loose for a 21-yarder that decided the game.
The Pizza Bowl will have two great running backs going at one another. The question is this: Which will last the longest?
The Pizza Bowl won't leave you hungry.
OK. That was a bad joke.
If you like running backs who thrill for a living, you'll enjoy watching two of the best backs that you probably haven't heard much about slug it out in Detroit.
Antonio Andrews can do everything, and that's where Western Kentucky may have the advantage over the Chippewas.
Because of his versatility, the Hilltoppers should edge out Central on Dec. 26.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 35, Central Michigan 28