The Purdue football team has accepted an invitation to play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at beautiful Ford Field in Detroit on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised by ESPN.
The Boilermakers (6-6, 4-4 Big Ten - third in Leaders Division) will face Western Michigan from the Mid-American Conference. The Broncos have a 7-5 overall record and were 5-3 in league play (third in the West Division).
Purdue will play in its first bowl game under third-year head coach Danny Hope and its first since 2007, when the Boilermakers defeated Central Michigan 51-48 in the Motor City Bowl, which was renamed the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in 2009.
"We really appreciate the extra opportunity," Hope said. "We had some big games this year, and we've had some high moments. But we still don't have a winning record for the senior class.
"I'm glad we're going to Detroit. I'm excited about going there. It's a great opportunity. I'm looking forward to it. Happy for our achievement that we get to play one more time
Linebacker Joe Holland says the bowl game means a lot to the senior class.
"It extends our Purdue career for a whole extra month, which is a big deal for us," the NFF Scholar-Athlete said. "I don't think any of us are ready for it to be over, and it's something we've been working toward for a long time. Purdue has a standard of winning. That's why we all came here. We were kind of hoping to re-establish that standard."
Athletics director Morgan Burke believes the Little Caesar Pizza Bowl can provide momentum for the 2012 season and is confident Boilermaker Nation will support the program in Detroit.
"Our goal was to play one more game this year, and we will use this game against Western Michigan as a springboard into the 2012 season," Burke said. "We're excited to return to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. There are nearly 200,000 Purdue alumni within a four-hour drive of Detroit, and this game will provide a great opportunity for them to get together, root on the Boilermakers and share some holiday cheer. We had a great time and an exciting game in 2007, and look forward to another one this year."This season, Purdue and Western Michigan shared one common opponent - Michigan. The Boilermakers lost to the Wolverines 36-14 on Oct. 29, while the Broncos lost 34-10 in a weather-shortened game Sept. 3.
Purdue and Western Michigan have met twice previously, with the Boilermakers winning both games at Ross-Ade Stadium - 28-13 on Sept. 11, 1993, and 28-24 on Sept. 14, 2002.
"We are excited to have Purdue and Western Michigan in the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl," CEO and executive director Ken Hoffman said. "Both teams have significant fan bases and will no doubt bring that support with them to Detroit. The Boilermakers played in a very competitive Big Ten this season that produced 10 bowl-eligible teams. The Broncos played a non-conference schedule that included Michigan in Ann Arbor, Illinois in Champaign and a win at UConn. We expect an outstanding game, with Purdue having averaged more than 26 points and Western Michigan averaging over 35 points per game."
The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl dates to 1997. In Purdue's 2007 victory, Chris Summers nailed a last-second 40-yard field goal, while Curtis Painter set school records with 546 passing yards and 540 yards of total offense. The Boilermakers and Chippewas combined for 1,022 yards of total offense (Purdue 587 and Central Michigan 435), and they set an attendance record with 60,624 fans.
Purdue is the last Big Ten team to play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, has been the site of the game since 2002 and was the site of Super Bowl XL. Former Boilermaker defensive end Cliff Avril (2004-07) is a rising star with the Lions and is planning to attend the game.
The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is the only major college football bowl game located in the Midwest United States.Purdue has played in 15 bowl games all-time, with an 8-7 record.