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Little Caesars Bowl 2012: 3 Players Who Will Decide the Outcome

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 10:  Cody Wilson #11 of the Central Michigan Chippewas runs with the ball during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 10, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

After taking a one-day sabbatical, bowl season 2012 resumes tonight when Western Kentucky and Central Michigan square off in the Little Caesar's Bowl.

Neither team was particularly dominant this year, combining to go 13-11, and each going 4-4 within their respective conferences.

But that's one of the many beauties of bowl season. Despite middling years in totality, both teams get a chance to end euphorically, with a trophy in their hands and the title of "champion" over their heads.

Here are three players who might determine which team will be victorious:

 

WR Cody Wilson, Central Michigan

Chippewa receivers Defarrel Davis, Courtney Williams and, most notably, Titus Davis, were suspended this week for violating team policy. That leaves a lot of pressure  on Senior Cody Wilson to pick up the slack in the passing game.

Titus Davis, the speedy sophomore who led the team with 860 yards on only 43 catches, will be the most sorely missed of the trio. He also led the team in receiving touchdowns, with eight, and posted an average of 20.0 yards per reception.

In his absence, the Chippewas severely lack a vertical threat capable of stretching the field, which means they will heavily rely on Cody Wilson to perform on the first and second levels.

Wilson, the team's leader in receptions, put up 100 fewer yards than Davis on over 20 more catches. He only caught two passes of over 40 yards and failed to record a 20-yard reception in six of the team's 12 games.

Despite all of that, his methodical consistency allowed him to put up four 100-yard receiving games. His team might need him to put up a fifth on Wednesday night.

 

RB Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky

The six-foot junior from Fort Campbell has been something of a keystone for the Hilltoppers.

In the team's seven wins, Andrews has rushed for 1,062 yards on 162 carries. In their five losses, he's racked up only 593 yards on 115 carries.

The averages aren't drastically different—he averages about one yard per carry more in wins—but the totals are. He's averaging 152 yards per game in wins and 118 in losses.

Central Michigan allows 33.3 points per game, but a lot of that was inflated by the high-scoring nature of the MAC this year. If WKU can't get Andrews going, it could suffer its sixth loss of the year.

 

OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

The premier, and perhaps the only, high-end draft prospect in this game is Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher.

The 6'7'', 297-pound behemoth ranks 20th on ESPN.com's big board and is projected by nearly every draft outlet to be a first-round pick come April. He's particularly adept in pass protection where he uses elite lateral agility and patience to frustrate opposing ends.

As alluded to above, the Central Michigan passing game will not be at full strength against the Hilltoppers. Cody Wilson needs to step up, but if Western Kentucky blankets him, Fisher must provide his quarterback with extra time to scan the field or improvise.

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