Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thriller in Detroit

"What happens in Detroit... stays in Detroit."

The Big Ten started their bowl season with a bang, as the Purdue Boilermakers finally lived up to expectations defeated the two-time MAC champion Central Michigan Chippewas 51-48 in last night's General Motors Unemployment Motor City Bowl.

Despite the fact that I still find it astounding that a team that went 3-5 in their conference is invited to go bowling, Curtis Painter put up some absolutely sick numbers, throwing for a school-record 546 yards. Three of his receivers had over 100 yards on the night. The 546 yards ranks fourth all-time in individual passing yards in a bowl game.

Purdue went into halftime on the winning side of a lopsided 34-13 match. The Chips quickly jumped out of the gate in the second half with an electrifying 76-yard TD to pull within two scores. Painter put his cannon on display once again to make it 41-20, but the Chippewas refused to be put down, rallying to make it 41-34 late in the 3rd quarter. How about that Dan LeFevour! Talk about a heavyweight match of highly-touted quarterbacks.

Purdue coughed up the ball near their own 10, and LeFevour punched it in to tie it up at 41 going into the final act. Central Michigan capped off the 3rd quarter with four touchdowns. Painter and company easily plastered another TD on the scoreboard late in the fourth, leaving the ball to LeFevour with about two minutes or so left. In just about a minute's time, LeFevour found Bryan Anderson for yet another TD, but ended up leaving too much time on the clock for the Boilermakers. Unsurprisingly, Painter rifled a few passes down the field, allowing for the 40-yard game winning FG. Woo.

Now, the aftermath. The Boilermakers breathe a sigh of relief, as they almost choked away a three-score lead to the MAC champions. The Chippewas drive home with the moral victory that they almost beat the 7th-place team in the Big Ten.

Dan LeFevour came close to matching Tim Tebow's 20-20 mark, but I don't think he quite made it. I think he'll have a great chance of hitting it in his next two years of eligibility.

The bowl may have big coaching implications. The win likely saved Joe Tiller's job at Purdue, as there's always been speculations and grumblings that boosters and fans might be getting sick of his recent mediocrity. Meanwhile, Chippewa coach Butch Davis is likely in Morgantown today for his second interview for the West Virginia job. Davis had been an assistant for the Mountaineers for a few years. We can pretty much confirm his interview, since he declined to comment on it last night. We all know how coachspeak works by now.

So, Purdue starts the conference's bowl season on the right foot. Bring on the Big 12 and the SEC!

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