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December 25, 2007
Motor City Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Purdue
MOTOR CITY BOWL
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit.
WEATHER: Domed stadium.
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch will do play-by-play, with Andre Ware as the analyst).
THE LINE: Purdue by 9.
RECORDS VS. BOWL TEAMS: Central Michigan 1-3, Purdue 1-5.
RECORD VS. BCS TOP 25: Central Michigan 0-2, Purdue 0-1.
BCS RANK: Central Michigan N/A, Purdue N/A.
SCHEDULE STRENGTH: Central Michigan 101st, Purdue T-45th.
COACHES: Central Michigan—Butch Jones (First bowl); Purdue—Joe Tiller (3-7 in bowls).
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Well, if you're into rematches, you'll like this (Purdue won 45-22 on Sept. 15). Truth be told, the potential exists for a lot of points, which means it could be entertaining.
KEY STAT: Central Michigan was outscored 167-43 in three games against BCS-league schools, including that 45-22 loss at Purdue. Of the Boilermakers' seven victories, just one – over Central Michigan – came against a team with a winning record.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Central Michigan sophomore QB Dan LeFevour has thrown for 3,360 yards (with 23 TDs and 13 picks) and run for 1,008 yards (and 17 TDs). He is just the second player in Division I-A history to pass for 3,000 and run for 1,000 in the same season. The other is Vince Young. In the Sept. 15 game against the Boilers, LeFevour threw for 364 yards but ran for just 26.
Bowl season ought to give TV viewers a break now that the Writers Guild strike has forced them to watch old episodes of their favorite shows.
Unfortunately, even bowl season doesn't offer a respite from reruns.
The 2007 schedule includes two matchups – BYU-UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl and Purdue-Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl – that took place during the regular season. This marks the first time in history that two bowls in one season have offered rematches, the 2007 official NCAA record book shows.
Ever since these rematches were announced, the teams have tried to put their best spin on the situation.
Nonetheless, it seems rather unusual to schedule rematches of games that weren't particularly interesting the first time around. UCLA beat BYU 27-17 on Sept. 8, while Purdue trounced Central Michigan 45-22 one week later.
The Las Vegas Bowl was somewhat vindicated in its decision to stage a rematch when BYU blocked a field goal as time expired to preserve a 17-16 victory over UCLA on Saturday.
Making the selections more questionable, these two matchups will take place again early next season. UCLA plays at BYU on Sept. 6, and Central Michigan heads to Purdue one week later.
Rematches are unusual – but not unprecedented – in bowl season.
When Florida State rallied from a 28-point deficit to tie Florida 31-31 in 1993, the Sugar Bowl paired them again and billed the rematch as "The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter." They staged another rematch in the Sugar Bowl three years later, when the Gators won their first national title by avenging a regular-season loss to the Seminoles.
The first rematch took place because it gave the teams a chance to settle a regular-season tie. The second one occurred after Texas' upset of Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game prevented a potential Florida State-Nebraska showdown for the national title in the Orange Bowl.
But there didn't seem to be a compelling reason for this season's rematches. The limits of bowl tie-ins and the demands for gate attractions helped sway the decisions of Motor City officials.
Central Michigan also has a revenge motive. The Chippewas fell behind 24-0 in the first quarter on their way to a 45-22 loss at Purdue on Sept. 15. That begs the question of why the Motor City Bowl saw fit to stage a rematch of a game that was so one-sided three months ago.
"Even though it's a rematch, what's compelling about it is three months ago it was in West Lafayette with a (Central Michigan) team that was in its first month of a new coaching staff," Motor City Bowl executive director Ken Hoffman said. "Now that team has come together, they're the Mid-American Conference champions, they're three more months into the program with their new coaching staff, they'll have the incentive to play better than they did the first time around and this time it's in front of their fans rather than Purdue fans."
That large Central Michigan fan contingent is a big reason this rematch is taking place. The Motor City Bowl had the seventh pick from the Big Ten and selected Purdue, the only conference team with a winning record that hadn't already been chosen by another bowl.
The Motor City chose Central Michigan as its MAC representative even though the Chippewas already had played Purdue this season and appeared in the Motor City Bowl last season.
"We will likely have 55,000 (fans)," Hoffman said, "and I think 40,000 of those will be Central Michigan fans."
While the revenge motive might seem like all Central Michigan needs, linebacker Ike Brown said the chance to beat a Big Ten program means more than the possibility of avenging a regular-season loss. The Chippewas (8-5) lost their three regular-season games against BCS foes by an average margin of 41 points.
"You really don't get that recognition when we beat a team in our conference," Brown said. "If you beat a BCS school, that's when you get that recognition. That's what we want to do."
While it might seem a bit unfair for Purdue (7-5) to play a bowl against a team it already beat soundly this season, the Boilermakers are putting their own spin on the possibility of revenge. Purdue cornerback Terrell Vinson believes the Boilers' defense also needs to make amends for its second-half performance in the Sept. 15 victory.
"We were up 31-0 and let them come back and score 22 points in the second half," Vinson said. "We have a lot of incentive as well."
And if he's upset about having to play Central Michigan again, Vinson isn't letting it show.
"We're just happy to make a bowl," Vinson said.
While Vinson may not care whether he's facing a team he already has seen before, bowl officials can only hope that fans and TV audiences feel the same way.
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