Detroit — Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit was thrilled after he found out his team would be playing in a bowl close to home.
The Broncos don't even have to leave the state to play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Tuesday against Purdue at Detroit's Ford Field.
"It's a perfect situation for us as a university," Cubit said. "Our alumni can get to the game. Our student body can get to the game. Our fans will be able to travel, a lot more families can be at the game than if we went somewhere else."
If last weekend was any indication, Cubit can expect a friendly reception. A contingent from Purdue's team was shown taking in Saturday's Lions-Chargers game at Ford Field and greeted with plenty of boos. Then a group from Western Michigan was introduced to loud cheers.
Still, the Broncos (7-5) will need more than supportive fans to beat Purdue. Western Michigan hasn't beaten a Big Ten team since 2008, although the Broncos did play Illinois tough in a 23-20 defeat in September.
Purdue is returning to a bowl for the first time since 2007, when the Boilermakers beat Central Michigan 51-48 in this same bowl. Another shootout is certainly possible. Western Michigan has scored at least 38 points seven times this season, including a 66-63 loss to Toledo last month.
"Looking at Western Michigan on film, they can score some points," Purdue coach Danny Hope said. "They're obviously on the cutting edge of the spread offense. It's very similar to what we ran at Purdue when I coached there before, and we had Drew Brees. ... It's very similar in a lot of ways — the play calling, the styles, the protections. They're a high-scoring football team, so we'd better be ready to score some points."