|ESPN Western Michigan 32 vs Purdue 37 |
Offense: Purdue brings into Detroit an offense that scored over 26 points a game and is coming off of a win over Indiana where the Boilermakers scored 33 points. They have a balanced offense, but will be playing without leading rusher Ralph Bolden. RB Akeem Shavers will step in and be expected to produce. Purdue will use two quarterbacks, Caleb TerBush and Miami-transfer Robert Marve. TerBush will get the start and has done well, but look for Marve to get some time too. When they go back to pass, Antavion Edison will be the main target as he is leading Purdue receiver. Justin Siller is also a strong receiver and will be playing his final game as a Boliermaker in his hometown of Detroit. Western Michigan has an offense that is led QB Alex Carder. He leads the 8th ranked passing attack in the country, which averages over 325 yards a game through the air. The Broncos put up 68 points in their final regular season game. Carder's top receivers are Jordan White, who has 1646 yards and 16 touchdowns, and Chleb Ravenell, who has scored 8 touchdowns. I expect the Broncos to have much success through the air against the Purdue secondary.
Offense: Purdue has a defense that is average, not too good, not too bad. They know they are up for a big test against this passing offense. With that being said, the secondary will be extremely important against the Broncos. CB Ricardo Allen will most likely draw the assignment of covering All-American Jordan White. Junior DE Kawaan Short will lead the defensive line. It will be important to get pressure from that group, or it could be a long day for Purdue. Western Michigan has given up exactly 28 points a game this year, and will need to do better if it wants to beat Purdue. The Broncos will first and foremost need to stop the Purdue run. DT Drew Nowak is the top defensive player on the team. He has 8.5 sacks this year and was named MAC defensive player of the year. DE Freddie Bishop is also a force, as he has 12 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
The pick: I like Western Michigan to win this game. The passing attack of QB Alex Carder will be too much for Purdue. Playing without leading rusher Ralph Bolden will hurt the Boilermakers and it will be too big a loss. If you agree or disagree let me know why by tweeting me @bowlseason or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I'll post them if you send them.
We picked Western Michigan. We are now 5-4.
Michael Osipoff, of The Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana, answered some questions for us about Purdue.
BS: The Boilermakers finished 6-6, 4-4 in the Big 10, good for 3rd in the Leaders division. How would you rate this season overall?
Michael Osipoff: It’s been a mixed bag. Anything less than at least making a bowl game would have been a mess for Purdue, and the Boilermakers did accomplish that task, for the first time since 2007. Losing at Rice was damaging for them, and they were exposed by Notre Dame in a prime-time game at home. They beat then-No. 23 Illinois at home, before getting blown out in back-to-back games at Michigan and Wisconsin. To their credit, they bounced back to beat Ohio State — though clearly not a vintage Buckeyes team in the wake of the scandal. After an uninspired performance in a home loss to Iowa in their first crack at bowl-eligibility, they went on the road to edge a subpar — albeit archrival — Indiana team in what amounted to a must-win game in the regular-season finale.
BS: The offense has done well, running the ball very effectively. What is the philosophy of the offense and who are the players to watch?
Michael Osipoff: They’ve been fairly balanced, with several capable ball-carriers. However, leading rusher Ralph Bolden suffered a torn ACL against Indiana — the third time he has suffered that injury to his right knee, after he did it in spring practice in 2010 causing him to miss last season and did it as a senior in high school. Caleb TerBush, who essentially opened the season at No. 3 on the depth chart, has started every game at quarterback, and has made strides; Robert Marve, who began last season as the starter before suffering a torn ACL for the second time in his career, also has seen playing time. Justin Siller, who gets to close his college career in his hometown of Detroit, and Antavian Edison have been their top two receivers. The status of third-leading receiver O.J. Ross was uncertain — he likely won’t play — after he was suspended indefinitely for academic reasons.
BS: The defense was average, giving up 26 points a game. What do they need to do to be successful against a potent Western Michigan offense and who are the key players?
Michael Osipoff: They’re very aware of Western Michigan’s high-scoring offense, and have been very complimentary toward it. They’ve shown a lot of respect in particular for All-American wide receiver Jordan White, as well as quarterback Alex Carder. Ricardo Allen, a talented sophomore cornerback, could be the guy on the spot for the Boilermakers, drawing the primary assignment of matching up against White; Allen has the experience of having defended such receivers as Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, Illinois’ A.J. Jenkins and Iowa’s Marvin McNutt this season. And junior defensive tackle Kawann Short, an All-Big Ten selection and an All-American type of player, is certainly someone to watch on Purdue’s defense. He likely will test the NFL Draft waters, and he could ultimately have an interesting decision to make.
BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?
Michael Osipoff: Let’s go with junior running back Akeem Shavers. The junior college transfer has been Purdue’s second-leading rusher this season, and with Bolden sidelined, he should have increased opportunity against Western Michigan, especially since the Broncos allow 5.5 yards per carry. Shavers did miss the Indiana game with a concussion suffered in the previous game against Iowa, but he’s been on track to return for the bowl.
Thanks a lot to Michael Osipoff. Check his work out at www.post-trib.com .