Little Caesars Bowl – Western Michigan vs. Purdue 4:30E ESPN
If you have not witnessed Western Michigan (7-5, 7-3-1 ATS) play, do not miss this opportunity. The Broncos have the best passing duo in the country in QB Alex Carder and WR Jordan White. Carder led the MAC with 312.2 passing yards per game; including a league-high 28 TD passes. Western Michigan does have three outstanding receivers; however, White is the money-man leading the nation with 127 receptions, 1,646 yards and 16 trips to pay dirt. The Broncos had more talent defensively than they showed, but never came together as a unit. They were a MAC-worst 5.5 yards per rush and 11th in the league in rushing yards allowed at 215.9 per game. The Broncos are 2-12 ATS when they allow 28 or more points.
Purdue will have one last shot in 2011 to accomplish something they have not all year, win back-to-back games. Off their victory over rival Indiana, the Boilermakers (6-6, 5-7 ATS) became bowl eligible for the first time since 2007, when they played in the same locale with a different sponsorship group. The Purdue offense was anemic, settling at 79th overall, gaining 371.4 yards a game. In spite of losing top rusher Ralph Bolden, there was enough depth to still rush for 174.7 yards a contest. Neither Caleb TerBush nor Robert Marve distinguished themselves as quarterbacks and a deep passing game never manifested. The Boilers have dropped their last four ATS as bowl favorites.
Western Michigan has never won a bowl game in four prior tries. Purdue is 8-7 as a bowl team and 2-5 ATS as favorites. MAC teams are only 2-7 ATS in last nine Detroit tilts.
ISS Power Ratings – Western Michigan by 3
Belk Bowl -N.C. State vs. Louisville – 8:00E ESPN
It’s remarkable what coach Tom O’Brien does year after year. While he hasn’t turned the ACC upset down at N.C. State (7-5, 5-6 ATS), O’Brien always finds a way to have his team improve as the season closes. After starting 2-3, the Wolfpack needed seven wins be bowl eligible and accomplished that feat with a late season rally. After a bumpy start, Mike Glennon has been a steady influence at the quarterback position. RB James Washington made a significant impact, not so much by stats, but doing what his team needed in carrying the rock for tough yards or converting third down plays. The N.C. State defense did not win any awards, but did finish 39th in total defense at 351.9 yards allowed. The secondary stopped opposing teams drives repeatedly with 24 interceptions and CB David Amerson was the top thief in the country with 11 picks. The Wolfpack are 7-0 ATS with two or weeks to prepare.
Louisville started 2-4 and with 10 freshmen starters and it sure felt like another losing campaign. Coach Charley Strong’s defense was really playing well and once Teddy Bridgewater settled in at quarterback, the Cardinals (7-5, 8-4 ATS) took flight to finish 5-1 and co-champions of the Big East. As Bridgewater got comfortable, the production of the receivers shot up. The Louisville running game was way down the list at 121.9 yards a game, but Victor Anderson is the most capable runner. The Cardinals run defense was ninth in the country (103.5 YPG) and the secondary came around as a competent contingent. The ‘Ville is 6-0 ATS as underdogs.
With N.C. State., it’s about coach O’Brien with astonishing 8-1 ATS bowl record. Louisville is 7-7-1 in their bowl game history with 5-7-1 ATS mark. The Big East is 3-5 ATS in this Charlotte bowl encounter.
ISS Power Ratings – Louisville by 4