The latest results of the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll asked the question if college football fans would rather receive gifts this Holiday season as per usual, or if they would forego receiving presents in order to watch their favorite team win the BCS Championship. In a very close vote, 46 percent of fans opted for presents, while 42 percent said they would trade in all of their Holiday gifts in order to witness their favorite team hoist the crystal ball trophy after winning the BCS Championship. But while only the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Alabama Crimson Tide can play for the BCS Championship, that does not mean that we should ignore other exciting bowl games this season, including the Little Caesar’s Bowl between the Central Michigan Chippewas and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
This game is expected to feature two teams who are not exactly used to playing in bowl games, but it will also feature the two teams with perhaps the most fun nicknames to say. The Chippewas and the Hilltoppers? Seriously? Those are both great to say. Not exactly the easiest to type each time, but I am getting off point.
Joking aside, Western Kentucky will be playing in its first even bowl game. That may sound like a bigger deal, but the Hilltoppers just joined the FBS ranks in 2009, so it is actually quite impressive. This year’s team finished 7-5, just like last season. Apparently, the bowl committee members must have felt that this year’s 7-5 record was somehow more impressive than last year’s 7-5 campaign.
The Chippewas won their final three games of the season in order to secure this bowl berth, which is made more impressive considering they once lost six out of eight games at one point in the season. They were able to rally behind Zurlon Tipton’s 19 rushing touchdowns and Ryan Radcliff’s 20 passing touchdowns. The Hilltoppers secured the bowl bid with a win over the North Texas Mean Green to close out the season, but they had dropped their previous three games.
Central Michigan may have the home crowd advantage, with this game being played at Ford Field in Detroit, although they will still enter the contest as a 6 point underdog to Western Kentucky, with the Over/Under currently set at 58.5 points in total.
Before we take a further look into this game, take a look at the latest results from the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll. College football fans across the country were not only asked whether they would rather receive gifts this Holiday season or watch their favorite team win this year’s BCS Championship, but they were also asked which team had the best chance to win the national championship, as well as which ones were truly the best in the country. After checking out the following infograph with the complete results, make sure to let us know how you feel. Who is the best team in 2012? Who will win this year’s BCS Championship Game? Would you trade in all of your gifts for the chance to watch your favorite team hoist the crystal ball trophy after winning the BCS Championship Game?
Both teams ranked fairly similar in offensive and defensive rankings in 2012. The Chippewas were better in the passing game, while the Hilltoppers favored the run game. Both scored right around 29 points per game, although Central Michigan allowed about eight points per game more on defense, accounting for the six point spread currently favoring WKU.
Overall, the Chippewas played a slightly more difficult schedule. They did not defeat even one other team who is going to a bowl game although they did face the Michigan State Spartans, Northern Illinois Huskies, Toledo Rockets, Navy Midshipmen and Ball State Cardinals. All five of those teams are going to bowl games this postseason. The Chippewas also defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes. It may not sound like a big deal, considering Iowa was not that impressive this season, but not even Northern Illinois can brag about that, yet they are still going to the Orange Bowl.
The Hilltoppers defeated just one team who is bowl eligible in 2012, with that win coming against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Their roughest opponent was clearly the Alabama Crimson Tide, to whom they lose 35-0 early in the season.
Central Michigan and Western Kentucky did not face a similar opponent in 2012.
As the seventh and final team from the MAC to get into a bowl game, the Chippewas will look to build off of winning their final three games. This is a matchup featuring two teams headed in opposite directions, although anything can happen in the college football bowl season.
Stay tuned to The Pigskin Report for the most complete coverage of the entire 2012-2013 college football season, as well as the results from each week’s Discover Fan Loyalty Poll. Make sure to Like Discover on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, as they have done a fantastic job at providing us with the most entertaining results from and poll throughout the 2012 college football season!
* The 15-week Discover Fan Loyalty Poll is conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a nationally recognized leader in polling, who gathers sentiment by phone from 800 college football fans who follow games at least once per week on television, radio, in person or online.
Discover launched the Fan Loyalty Poll to give die-hard fans a platform to showcase their dedication and love for their favorite college football team leading up to the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game and 2013 Discover Orange Bowl. Each week the poll will offer new questions about what college football fans are thinking this season.
Beyond title sponsorship of the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game and 2013 Discover Orange Bowl, Discover’s commitment to college football includes relationships with ESPN and Notre Dame Football on NBC.