|2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl|
|Date||December 27, 2011|
|MVP||Defense: Joe Holland (LB, Purdue)|
Offense: Akeem Shavers (RB, Purdue)
|Referee||Robert Cameron (WAC)|
|Payout||US$600,000 per team|
|United States TV coverage|
|Announcers:||Beth Mowins (Play-by-Play)|
Mike Bellotti (Analyst)
Eamon McAnaney (Sidelines)
|Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
The 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, the 15th edition of the game, was a post-season American college football bowl game that was held on December 27, 2011 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan as part of the 2011–12 NCAA bowl season.
The game, which was telecast at 4:30 pm ET on ESPN, featured the Western Michigan Broncos from the Mid-American Conference versus the Purdue Boilermakers from the Big Ten Conference. The Purdue Boilermakers defeated the Western Michigan Broncos 37–32 for the victory.
The 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was the third ever football meeting between the two universities. Purdue led the all time series 2–0 coming into the game.
Purdue make its first bowl appearance since 2007, when they defeated Central Michigan in the 2007 Motor City Bowl. In 2011, the Boilermakers finished sixth in the Big Ten Conference. They came into the game with a 6–6 overall record. They were led by an outstanding special teams (first in the Big Ten in kickoff return average and second in the nation) unit that helped them start with favorable field position. Purdue played the game without their leading rusher Ralph Bolden, who tore his ACL in final game of the season.
Purdue's spread offense is led by Akeem Shavers in rushing (89 rushes, 370 yards, six TDs), Caleb TerBush in passing (163–264, 1,804 yards, 12 TDs), and in receiving by both Justin Siller (45 catches, 430 yards, one TD) and Antavion Edison (43 catches, 561 yards, three TDs).
Western Michigan Broncos
Western Michigan enters the bowl with an 7–5 overall record. The Broncos are making their first bowl appearance since 2008 when they lost to Rice in the Texas Bowl. It is the Broncos third bowl in the last five seasons. They are led by their passing offense (first in the MAC in passing yards and touchdowns and eighth in the nation). Three of the Broncos' losses are by four points or less.
The Broncos are led in rushing by Tevin Drake (102 rushes, 570 yards, four TDs) and quarterback Alex Carder (114 rushes, 253 yards, four TDs); Carder in passing (299–445, 3,434 yards, 28 TDs); and Jordan White in receiving (127 catches, 1,646 yards, 16 TDs). White leads the NCAA FBS in receptions and receiving yards and is second in receiving touchdowns.
Taking advantage of a Purdue fumble, the Broncos scored first on a 49-yard flea flicker to go up 8–0 after making a two-point conversion. Purdue responded by with its own touchdown to cut the deficit to 8–7 at the end of the first quarter. The Boilermakers then recovered an onside kick to keep the ball in their possession.
Purdue was unable to capitalize on the onside kick, fumbling the ball at WMU's 14-yard line. On the next drive, however, WMU threw an interception, which led to a Purdue field goal. On the next drive, WMU scored on a one-yard touchdown pass to Josh Schaffer to take the lead 15–10. On the ensuing kickoff, though, Purdue's Raheem Mostert returned the kickoff 99-yards for a touchdown, making it 17–15 Purdue. The Boilermakers then recovered their second onside kick of the game on the kickoff. This time, the Boilermakers were able to capitalize, going up 24–15 on a Reggie Pegram rushing touchdown. After the Broncos turned the ball over on downs, the Boilermakers added to their lead on a 19-yard Carson Wiggs field goal to make it 27–15 at the end of the first half.
In the third quarter, the Broncos were able to cut the deficit 27–18 on a 21-yard John Potter field goal. Purdue then added to their lead on a 33-yard passing touchdown to make it 34–18. On the next Broncos drive, quarterback Alex Carder's pass was intercepted by Purdue's Gerald Gooden at Purdue's six-yard line. However, Gooden fumbled the ball on the return, giving the ball back to the Broncos at the Purdue 29-yard line. Continuing the drive, the Broncos scored on a one-yard Tevin Drake rushing touchdown make it 34–25 going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Boilermakers added to their lead on a 26-yard Carson Wiggs field goal to make it 37–25. On the next drive, WMU turned the ball over on an interception. The Broncos were able to get the ball back after forcing Purdue to punt. On the next Broncos drive on a fourth-and-10 play at Purdue's 12-yard line, Carder fumbled the ball after being sacked. Purdue's Ryan Russell recovered the ball but fumbled on the return, giving the ball back to the Broncos. Continuing the drive, the Broncos cut the lead 37–32 on a five-yard touchdown pass to Chleb Ravenell. After forcing Purdue to punt, the Broncos had one last chance to win the game. However, Carder fumbled the ball, giving the ball to the Boilermakers. The Boilermakers were then able to run the clock out to seal a victory.
|Passing yards (net)||439||177|
|Total offense, plays – yards||81–485||77–442|
|Time of possession||24:06||35:54|
- "Las Vegas Odds". http://www.webcitation.org/64FSbG0LB. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- Mat Kanan (December 4, 2011). "WMU Football Accepts Invite to the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl". http://www.wmubroncos.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=24299&SPID=1922&DB_LANG=C&ATCLID=205342224&DB_OEM_ID=4600. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- "2011 Big Ten Conference football stats". http://www.bigten.org/sports/m-footbl/stats/2011-2012/confldrs.html. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- Adam Rittenburg (December 5, 2011). "Ralph Bolden of Purdue Boilermakers to miss bowl game with torn ACL". ESPN.com. ESPN. http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7317284/ralph-bolden-purdue-boilermakers-miss-bowl-game-torn-acl. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- "2011 Mid-American Conference football stats". http://www.mac-sports.com/portals/20/MAC/Stats/2011FB/confldrs.htm. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- NCAA Division I-A Player Receiving Statistics – 2011. ESPN. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Western Michigan Broncos vs. Purdue Boilermakers play-by-play. ESPN. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Purdue 37, W. Michigan 32. ESPN. December 27, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Western Michigan Broncos vs. Purdue Boilermakers Box Score. ESPN. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Western Michigan Broncs vs. Purdue Boilermakers – Drivechart. ESPN. Retrieved December 28, 2011.