Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Spread: Western Kentucky (-5)
A 7-5 Sun Belt team taking on a 6-6 MAC team isn’t exactly the type of game that’s going to set any new television ratings records. However, don’t be surprised if the Little Caesars Bowl turns out to be more entertaining than expected.
Western Kentucky has lost its former head coach Willie Taggart, who has taken over at South Florida, along with its best player in Quanterus Smith, who had 12.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss before going down with a knee injury.
But there’s a reason that the Hilltoppers are still the favorite for this game.
The Sun Belt squad features plenty of talent on offense, such as quarterback Kawaun Jakes, running back Antonio Andrews, wide receiver Willie McNeal and tight end Jack Doyle. Andrews, who rushed for over 1,600 yards and 11 touchdowns this year, will be the real player to watch out for.
As far as Central Michigan is concerned, the Chippewas do have the best NFL prospect in this game in left tackle Eric Fisher—a 6’8’’, 300-plus pound senior whose mixture of size and athleticism project him as a potential first-rounder.
The Chippewas also have a highly-productive running back of their own in Zurlon Tipton, who averaged over six yards per carry and scored 20 touchdowns this season.
If Tipton can outproduce Andrews on the ground, and if the Chippewas can feed off the energy they will have from a good-sized home field advantage in Detroit, they should be able to win their first bowl game since 2009.
Pick: Central Michigan wins outright
Prediction: Central Michigan 27, Western Kentucky 24