Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Central Michigan Chippewas
Tip-off: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 – 7:30 PM ET
Ford Field, DETROIT, MI
In order to fill the shoes of the man who apparently built it all at the Football Bowl Subdivision level for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, the school decided to pick the man who lost everything only eight months ago.
After making the most controversial hire in the annual coaching carousel by giving Bobby Petrino another opportunity, Western Kentucky will try to impress YouWager experts by ending a successful season with a win in their first bowl appearance to night in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against the Central Michigan Chippewas.
The former Hilltoppers coach, Willie Taggart, was an institution at the school. He survived many difficulties in the school’s transition to the FBS – they were 0-12 in its first season in the Sun Belt Conference in 2009 and 2-10 in Taggart’s first college football season as head coach in 2010. His persistence and recruiting paid off, though, as the Hilltoppers have gone 7-5 each of the last two years, culminating in this trip to Detroit.
For tonight’s game, defensive coordinator Lance Guidry will be calling plays. Guidry is making his second appearance as an interim coach in a bowl after leading Miami (Ohio) Redhawks to a win in the 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl following Mike Haywood’s departure to coach the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The Hilltoppers led the conference with 31 sacks and was 12th among FBS teams with 7.42 tackles for loss per game. When focusing on offense, running back Antonio Andrews will get plenty of touches as he makes a bid to set a single-season NCAA record for all-purpose yards. Andrews, who rushed for 1,609 yards and 11 touchdowns, also has 957 return yards and 2,977 overall. The junior needs 274 yards to surpass Barry Sanders’ mark of 3,250 from his 1988 Heisman Trophy-winning season.
The Chippewas (6-6) finished fourth in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference and only became bowl eligible by closing the season with wins over Eastern Michigan, the Redhawks and Massachusetts, which had a combined seven wins among them. Central Michigan is making its fourth appearance in this bowl, winning one out of three from 2006-08 when it was known as the Motor City Bowl.
Third-year coach Dan Enos would love to be a springboard for better things to come after the Chippewas improved following back-to-back 3-9 seasons in 2010 and 2011. This team found their stride offensively in the second half of the season, scoring at least 30 points in each of their final six games, and the defense showed signs of improvement after yielding an average of 39.4 points during a 2-5 start.
Online sports betting experts consider that Central Michigan also has a running back in Zurlon Tipton, who amassed 1,391 yards and 19 rushing TDs while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Tipton needs two touchdowns on the ground to better Brian Pruitt’s single-season school record of 20 set in 1994.