Thursday, December 26, 2013
Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
6:00 PM EST Kickoff Time
The Mid-American Conference Champions Bowling Green Falcons (10-3) will take on the Pittsburgh Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Bowling Green comes in hot off a five-game winning streak and in impressive victory over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game. Pittsburgh racked up impressive wins over ACC rival Duke and traditional powerhouse Notre Dame en route to the bowl. While Bowling Green is making its second appearance in the bowl, Pittsburgh’s appearance marks the first visit of an ACC team to the Detroit bowl game. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN and large contingencies from both fan bases are expected to make the trek to Detroit for the big game.
History of the Little Caesars Bowl
Formerly known as the Motor City Bowl until 2009, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl has been played in Detroit since 1997 and moved to Ford Field from the Pontiac Silverdome in 2002. Over the years the bowl has featured many storied programs, including Cincinnati, Purdue, Marshall, Boston College and BYU. MVPs have included household names such as Chad Pennington (Marshall, 1998), Byron Leftwich (Marshall, 2000), Chester Taylor (Toledo, 2001) and DeAngelo Williams (Memphis, 2005).
Bowing to the Bowl
Aside from their impressive and convincing win over previously unbeaten Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game, the Falcons also picked up a key win over another bowl team in longtime conference rival Buffalo. The Falcons only loses were to Indiana, a one-point loss to Mississippi State and a three-point loss to Toledo. Much of the Falcons’ success can be credited to a strong defense that ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, fifth in scoring defense and second in red-zone defense. Quarterback Matt Johnson was MVP of the MAC Championship game and is protected by a solid offensive line led by all conference selections Dominic Flewellyn and David Kekeuwa.
Scratching and Clawing
While only boasting a 6-6 overall record, the Panthers posted a 3-1 non-conference record this season. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald comes into the bowl as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year as well as a finalist for the Lombardi, Outland, Nagurski and Bednarik Awards. All-ACC receiver Tyler Boyd leads a dynamic offensive attack achored by quarterback Tom Savage. The Panthers played a tough schedule including top-ranked Florida State as well as solid teams in North Carolina, Virgnia Tech, Georgia Tech, Miami and Navy.
Playing the Odds
Most sports books have Bowling Green favored by 5.5 points. The over/under for the game is hovering around 50 points combined. The money line has Bowling Green at -220 and Pittsburgh at 185. Only time will tell if the Panthers can play the part of the spoiler and end the Falcons’ five-game winning streak. The roof at Ford Field is not retractable, therefore weather will not play a factor in the outcome of the game. Fan support from both schools should be about equal for this neutral site game.