Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Preview
Wednesday, December 26th
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - Ford Field Detroit MI 7:30 PM ET
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (-5.5/59)
How Central Michigan got here
After consecutive 3-9 seasons, the Chippewas are bowling once again but it wasn't easy. Central Michigan opened up 2-1 which included a big upset (at the time, not anymore) at Iowa but then it dropped four straight, all by double digits, and five of its next six games to fall to 3-6. The Chippewas can thank the schedule makers as they finished with three cupcakes to close out the season and were able to win them all even though they were outgained in two of those. The final game against Massachusetts was the only game this season that Central Michigan outgained its opponent and that was only by 27 total yards. The Chippewas are here only because the Big Ten failed to have enough teams qualify and they come in with no wins against teams with a winning record.
How Western Kentucky got here
Western Kentucky made a significant hire with Bobby Petrino taking over as head coach although defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was named interim coach and will coach the team in the bowl game. This is the first bowl game in the history of the program so there will certainly be no lack of motivation on the Hilltoppers sideline especially considering they were 7-5 last year and were passed over on a bowl. They opened the season at 5-1 with that loss being against Alabama but a slow finish of 2-4 killed any SCB Championship hope. Those were not horrible losses however as they came by an average of just 4.75 ppg but a home loss against Florida Atlantic was inexcusable. Western Kentucky can claim however to be the only team to defeat conference champion Arkansas St.
Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews led the entire country in all-purpose yards with 2,977.
Central Michigan should have the edge with the crowd with this game taking place in Detroit as well as its familiarity with the venue as this is its fourth time here. Still, that intangible may not be enough as the Chippewas do not possess a great offense and have a below average defense. They are ranked 67th in total offense and 94th in total defense, both of which are good for seventh in the 14-team MAC. The Hilltoppers offense is slightly better but it is their defense that could be the difference as they come in 23rd in total defense which was tops in the Sun Belt Conference. Western Kentucky possesses the sixth best rusher in the country in Andrews and he can put a hurting on the Central Michigan rushing defense which is just 99th overall. The Hilltoppers also have a significant edge in the return teams.
Central Michigan is 0-7 ATS against teams with a winning record over the last two seasons.
Western Kentucky is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 games following a straight up victory.
Sorry, today's free pick is not available at this time. Please check back soon.