Motor City Bowl Preview
The Chippewas will match up against the Boilermakers for the second time in barely more than three months when the teams play in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26 at Detroit's Ford Field.
Purdue (7-5) hasn't opposed the same team more than once since defeating Haskell twice in a five-day span in 1898. More recently, Central Michigan (8-5) played Alma seven times over three seasons during World War II.
"This is a first for me as a coach," Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller said. "It's a very unusual situation."
The Boilermakers have won all three of their previous meetings with Central Michigan, including a 45-22 victory at home on Sept. 15. That contest was part of Purdue's season-opening five-game winning streak, which helped the team rise to No. 23 in the AP poll on Sept. 30.
That was Purdue's lone ranking of the season, though, as it dropped five of its next seven games. The Boilermakers finished the regular season with three straight losses, culminating Nov. 17 with a 27-24 defeat at Indiana.
"After the way our regular season ended, our hope was to play one more game and make it our best game," said Tiller, who will lead Purdue to a bowl for the 10th time in his 11 seasons at the helm.
Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter completed 29 of 39 passes for a season-high 360 yards and three touchdowns against Central Michigan. In his third year under center, he has thrown for 3,300 yards and a career-high 26 touchdowns.
Painter has fewer passing yards than 2006, but his control has significantly improved as he has just nine interceptions after throwing 19 in 14 games last year, thanks in part to a pair of reliable senior targets - wide receiver Dorien Bryant and tight end Dustin Keller.
Bryant leads the team with 871 yards and eight TDs, while Keller is second with 731 yards - 40 shy of the career high he set last year - and six scores.
Purdue's ground game is powered by running back Kory Sheets, who has 855 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He ran for a career-high 144 yards and two TDs in the September win over Central Michigan.
The Chippewas have played much better recently, though, going 7-2 during a stretch run that finished Dec. 1 with a 35-10 victory over Miami of Ohio to win the Mid-American Conference title - a game also played at Ford Field.
"We showed them a copy of our game with them, and then a tape of the MAC championship game when they beat Miami," Tiller said. "After that, I didn't need to tell our players how much better Central has gotten. They could see it with their own eyes."
Purdue is 7-7 all-time in bowl games, but has lost three straight.
Central Michigan, meanwhile, will make its second straight appearance in the Motor City Bowl and its fourth overall bowl appearance at the FBS level. The Chippewas lost the 1990 California Raisin Bowl and the 1994 Las Vegas Bowl, before breaking through last Dec. 26 with a 31-14 victory over Middle Tennessee State.
"I told our team all year that the hardest thing to do in sports is to repeat," said first-year coach Butch Jones.
The Chippewas will try to be able to repeat their postseason success behind emerging quarterback Dan LeFevour, who completed 24 of 34 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown in the MAC title game, when he also rushed 20 times for 170 yards and two TDs.
LeFevour has totaled 41 touchdowns - 17 rushing, 23 passing and one receiving - this season. The sophomore is also just the second MAC quarterback to win back-to-back championship games, joining Chad Pennington, who won three in a row at Marshall from 1997-99.
LeFevour earned the MAC's offensive player of the year award after gaining 1,008 rushing yards and 3,360 passing yards to join Vince Young (Texas, 2005) as the only quarterbacks in FBS history to have 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.
"That's quite an accomplishment, but I think most of the credit goes to my offensive line," LeFevour said. "There have been a lot of big runs this season where no one has touched me."
Wide receiver Bryan Anderson has benefited from LeFevour's success, catching 83 passes for 1,003 yards and seven TDs. He had 10 receptions for 101 yards against the Boilermakers in September.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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