2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Western Michigan vs Purdue Odds, Free Picks and Predictions on ESPN

Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Western Michigan vs Purdue 2011 Little Ceasars Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 12/27/11: Thanks to strong finishes to the year, the Western Michigan Broncos (7-5) and Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) were able to earn bowl eligibility in the closing weeks of the regular season. Fittingly, the two programs will meet each other in Tuesday’s Little Caser Pizza Bowl.  For Purdue, the game is the team’s first bowl appearance since 2007 and a chance to prove that the program is heading in the right direction after some down years. Meanwhile, Western Michigan wants to prove it can win against top competition after flying under the radar in the MAC. The Boilermakers are three-point favorites entering the matchup.

While both teams needed similar runs late in the year to secure a spot in the postseason, the similarities end there. Purdue has a run-first approach on offense, opting to control the clock and wear down opposing defenses with long, sustained drives. The Broncos take the opposite approach, running a pass-happy attack and trying to generate as many points as possible. Given the contrast in offensive philosophy, it’s not surprising that Western Michigan holds a decided edge in terms of scoring, averaging 35.6 points per game compared to 26.1 for the Boilermakers. That being said, controlling the tempo is going to play a major role in which team comes out on top Tuesday evening.

For the Broncos, the play of quarterback Alex Carder is going to be crucial to the team’s success. He had a great season, throwing for 28 touchdowns and more than 3,400 yards. However, Carder struggled to get the high-powered Western Michigan offense on track against Big Ten opponents Michigan and Illinois, scoring a combined 30 points. Playing the Boilermakers gives him a third chance to take down a Big Ten foe, but there is no guarantee that the result won’t be the same.

An X-factor for the Broncos offense could be wide receiver Jordan White. He led the country with 127 catches this season and finished with more than 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns. White can stretch field, go over the middle and do everything in between for the Western Michigan passing game. If the Boilermakers can slow down White, the Broncos’ offense will likely struggle to live up to its explosive reputation.

Purdue has bigger concerns than whether or not the star of its offense will play well. Leading rusher Ralph Bolden is out after injuring his knee late in the year, forcing freshman Akeem Hunt to carry the load. Hunt did top 100 yards in his first game taking over for Bolden, but the Boilermakers definite lose a lot of experience and proven production with the loss of Bolden.

Although both teams have different approaches on the offensive side of the ball, they both struggle on defense. Purdue gave up almost 27 points a game during the year, and the Broncos surrendered over 430 yards a game. Perhaps the most telling example of Western Michigan’s issues on defense was the team’s 66-63 loss to Toledo. There aren’t many teams that claim they scored 60-plus points and didn’t end up winning the game.

In the end, the Broncos’ track record against top competition doesn’t bode well. Even without its starting running back, Purdue should be able to wear down the Western Michigan defense with its power running game. Granted, Carder and the Broncos’ offense could hit some big plays of its own, but the high-scoring aerial attack was grounded by the other Big Ten opponents. Western Michigan makes a living outscoring opponents, and doing that against Purdue is going to be tough.

Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Purdue -3 to cover the spread

Poinsettia Bowl: Western Michigan vs Purdue
Date: 12/27/11
Time: 4:30 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds Favorite: Purdue -3 Total: Over/Under 61.5

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