Little Caesars Bowl: Purdue vs. Western Michigan: Previewing the Matchup

James EvensCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2011

Little Caesars Bowl: Purdue vs. Western Michigan: Previewing the Matchup

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    Purdue football is bowling for the first time since 2007 when the team made an appearance at the Motor City Bowl, now known as the Little Caesars Bowl.

    This appearance was a surprise for most Boilermaker fans as the season looked grim after an early season loss to Rice and a stomping by Notre Dame. 

    Here is a preview of the matchup in the Little Caesars Bowl against Western Michigan.

Western Michigan's Key Victories

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    Western Michigan finished the season 7-5 and had a few shining moments, which included a berth in a bowl game.

    Their biggest victory came against UCONN 38-31. This was their only big out-of-conference win this season.  

Purdue's Key Victories

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    Purdue had a very up-and-down season and had a few victories that surely still resonate with Purdue fans.

    They had two big wins against ranked teams in Ohio State and Illinois.  Purdue had a decent performance this season, one which kept coach Danny Hope his job. 

Western Michigan's High-Powered Offense

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    Western Michigan had one of the best passing attacks in the nation this season. They averaged 342 yards per game in the air this season and 35 points per game.

    Alex Carder leads this team and recorded 3,251 yards for 28 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.

    Carder is a great passer and it will be crucial for Purdue to slow down this offense in order to be successful. 

Purdue's Defense

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    Purdue's defense is going to be the key in this one. Without a good performance by the secondary this one could get out of hand fast. Carder is able to pick apart defenses and has a good chance at playing on Sundays.

    The good news for the Boilermakers is that Purdue is used to playing great teams and offenses. 

Western Michigan's Defense

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    Western Michigan's defense is not the greatest in the world. They give up on average 28 points per game and rely on outscoring their opponents.

    Western Michigan's defense has struggled at times but their offense is able to outscore anyone, which really saves them. 

Purdue's Offense

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    With Ralph Bolden looking doubtful for the game, it's going to be important that Purdue establishes the run with the other backs. 

    Edison is going to be important for Purdue and the quarterback play is going to be vital. 

    Look for Purdue to excel on offense against a weaker defense. 

Western Michigan's Keys to Victory

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    Western Michigan needs to be able to contain the passing attack to really manhandle the Boilermakers. Defense will be vital, because the offense will likely not have a problem scoring on Purdue.

    Look for the offense to have a great game in this one against a lackluster Purdue defense. 

Purdue's Keys to Victory

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    Purdue's key to victory has got to be defense. If the defense can step up and stop this high-flying offense, Purdue should win.

    Purdue's offense needs to get it together as well. With the apparent loss of Bolden, look for Purdue to struggle a bit in the running game, but they should get it together with Edison and the rest of the crew. 

Projection

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    It looks as though Purdue will be a bit outmatched in this one. Although Western Michigan seems to be the superior team on paper, Purdue has played a much stronger conference, so really anything could happen.

    This is going to be one heck of a game and Western Michigan is going to really put up a fight. Expect another great Little Caesars Bowl this season.

TV Information

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    Tuesday, November 27 at 4pm EST on ESPN.