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Quick Lane Bowl Preview, Military Bowl Canceled

Watch the Quick Lane Bowl at 10am—It’s all you get today.

Little Caesars Bowl - Western Michigan v Purdue Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

The history of Michigan-based bowl games isn’t terribly long—only the short-lived 1984-85 Cherry Bowl, hosted at the Pontiac Silverdome, predated the emergence in 1997 of the Motor City Bowl.

In 2002 the Motor City Bowl moved to newly-opened Ford Field, which still hosts the Quick Lane Bowl today.

Aficionados of the Quick Lane Bowl still lovingly refer to it as the Motor City or Pizza Pizza Bowl despite, of course, Little Caesar’s having abandoned its sponsorship of the Detroit-based bowl in 2014. Your favorite $5 pizza spot (unless you patronize Minnesota’s aptly-named $5 Pizza chain) took over as naming sponsor of the artist formerly known as the Motor City Bowl in 2009 when, for some reason, the auto manufacturers in the Detroit area couldn’t pony up for the bowl sponsorship anymore.

Huh. Wonder why.

The Big Ten began its partnership with the Motor City Bowl in 2002, replacing C-USA (2000-2001), but only one Big Ten squad—of course it was the Northwestern Wildcats—got shunted off to the armpit of the Great Lakes in 2003 to lose to arguably the best Bowling Green squad ever:

That Bowling Green club, led by QB Josh Harris and Urban Meyer’s old OC and current Colorado Mines HC Gregg Brandon, lost three games all season—by seven points in Columbus to #4 Ohio State and twice to eventual MAC and GMAC Bowl champions Miami-Ohio. The Redhawks were coached by Terry Hoeppner and led by some quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger.

Wonder what even happened to him.

Over its lifespan, only one other Big Ten club—the Purdue Boilermakers—would visit the Motor City/Little Caesar’s Bowl, beating Central Michigan in 2007, 51-48, in front of a record 60,624, and Western Michigan in 2011, 37-32, before 46,177. Purdue’s CMU win featured the Boilers allowing four third-quarter touchdowns to blow a 21-point halftime lead to the Butch Jones-coached Chips before K Chris Summers kicked a game-winning field goal. Curtis Painter threw for a bowl- and school-record 543 pass yards.

The 2011 game with Western, though, featured more than enough batshit to keep us busy—it’s not bad enough that I have to type the name “Caleb TerBush”, but surely Thump’s going to show up and start screaming, unsolicited, about Western Michigan HC Bill Cubit.

In the first half-hour alone, you’ll catch a WMU flea-flicker and two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead, a Purdue touchdown and subsequent onside kick, and a Raheem Mostert 99-yard KR TD.

It seems impossible that I’ve now, in bowl games played a decade or more ago, named two players—Mostert and Roethlisberger—still active in the NFL, but there you go!

Carson Wiggs was kicking for the Boilermakers, too!

Anywho, there were something like 15 fumbles combined in that Purdue-Western game, and this stupid exercise sucks for making me remember the name “Robert Marve,” so I am officially livid.

Anyone else stupid play in the Detroit-based bowl game?

Let’s agree to skip over the abomination that was 2014’s Rutgers-North Carolina showdown. Shockingly, only 23K attended that one, a number undercut only by two other iterations that, in retrospect, look even more like a “What the hell were they thinking?” slate:

Instead, Lube’n’Tube Bowl organizers, there is a formula that works: Sufficiently Midwestern school vs. Directional Michigan. To wit, please note two of the biggest wins in modern Minnesota Gophers memory:

Yes, that is 5-7 Minnesota, led by HC Tracy “Snorlax” Claeys (soon to be New Mexico State defensive coordinator, I assume) and QB Mitch “10-foot high ball to a 6’10” TE” Leidner. The Gophers won, 21-14, on a late TD run by Leidner to escape the Chips, coached by Noted Trophy-Spooner John Bonamego, in front of 34,217 in the Detroit area who had nothing better to do.


I assume based on being sufficiently more HYPRR or T.O.G.E.T.H.E.R. (To Out Grow Every Terrible Habit, Everyone Rows—CALL ME, PEEJUS!) than Georgia Tech in Paul Johnson’s final game, in 2018 the Gophers pounded the Yellow Jackets, 34-10. THIS one featured a scrappy young running back for the Gophers who I’m sure has finally graduated or moved on or something:

Thank God that’s the last we ever heard of him.

Anyway, onto the game itself:

Bowl Game Previews

Quick Lane Bowl

Western Michigan Broncos vs. Nevada Wolf Pack

10am | ESPN | WMU -7 | O/U 56

Ford Field (Detroit, MI)

All signs point to a Western win—Nevada HC Jay Norvell made a competition-lateral, cash-upward move to Mountain West rival Colorado State (along with OC Matt Mumme*), while QB Carson Strong is sitting out for the NFL Draft—but let’s not pretend “should” means a goddamn thing when MACtion is on the line. Nevada RB legend Vai Taua leads the Pack as interim HC.
* I just noticed/learned that Mumme was born in 1975, when his dad, Hal, was still a wide receiver at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX. Carry on.

Absent Strong, the Pack will turn to a wonderful oddity of college football: a 6’9” QB who punts with his left foot and kicks with his right foot. Also, let them hereafter be known as the infinitely cooler Sagebrushers, the de facto nickname of Nevada State until 1922.

Are any of these relevant details? PROBABLY NOT! But I want to watch a giraffe gallop all over the place while drinking scotch in my underwear at 10am on a Monday, and Nate Cox is the man to make that happen.

That came out wrong.

Western Michigan—the Hilltoppers until 1939, but apparently confused with Western Kentucky and/or Marquette!—got their doors blown off by Michigan but also beat Pittsburgh, 44-41, which is pretty hilarious, and none of their losses were to objectively terrible teams—all 5 of WMU’s defeats were to bowl teams.

That’s not for lack of a potent offense: it starts on the ground for the Broncos, with bowling ball La’Darius Jefferson (836, 4.5 ypc, 10 TDs) and speedster Sean Tyler (1004 yards, 6.1 ypc, 9 TDs, plus 14 catches for 116 and 2 TDs) providing coverage for QB Kaleb Eleby, who can sling it a bit (21:5 ratio, 3115 yards, 63.6% completion rate). His security blanket is WR Skyy Moore (90 catches for 1247 and 10 TDs),

It’s just that the Hilltoppers take a relatively indifferent approach to that whole “defense” thing—so let’s hope the Sagebrushers air it out and this one gets real weird.


For all the Quick Lanes:

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Weird other games these two teams played in that you should know about:

The Aviation Bowl!

Dayton, 1961, featuring 6-4 New Mexico and 5-3-1 Western Michigan. This was WMU’s first-ever bowl game and featured two inches of snow-turned-sleet along with a dual MVP award given to Lobos RB Bobby Santiago and G Chuck Cummings.

I just wanted to note that a guard won a bowl game MVP award. I love it.

Until the modern (post-2000) era, the Broncos only appeared in one more bowl, the 1988 California Bowl, a home game for their opponents, the Fresno State Bulldogs. The only other notable thing about the MAC-winning 1988 Broncos was that they beat wisconsin, 24-14, at Camp Randall. But that was the 1980s-era badgers, quarterbacked by Paul Chryst, so it really only counts for half a win.

If wisconsin would’ve just given Don Morton a couple more years, he could’ve completely destroyed that program.

The Salad Bowl!

A perennial Division I-AA Playoff participant throughout Chris Ault’s first term as head coach from 1976-1992, the Wolf Pack returned to the world of bowl games in 1992 when, as members of the Big West, they lost a 35-34 squeaker to Bowling Green in the inaugural Las Vegas Bowl.

Under Joe Sheeketski, the Pack traveled to bowl games in the 1947 and 1948 seasons—the latter a 27-7 loss to Villanova in the final edition of the San Diego-based Harbor Bowl, the former over the then-North Texas State Eagles in the inaugural Salad Bowl. The Salad Bowl, held at Phoenix Union High School in Arizona, was a game Nevada didn’t want to play in! To Wikipedia:

The Wolfpack was led by All-American and Heisman Finalist Stan Heath. Nevada originally accepted its invitation to the salad bowl however, weeks prior to the game, the team voted not to participate in the game. Nevada ultimately attended after the threat of lawsuit.

There was another bowl game today, but...

Military Bowl

Boston College Eagles vs. East Carolina Pirates

1:30pm | ESPN | BC -3 | O/U 52.5

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, MD)

COVID. So we’ll give you some NFL, out of guilt...

Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints

7:15pm | ESPN | Mia -2.5 | O/U 37

Never mind. Good God.

Basketball on today?


Brown Bears at Syracuse Orange

{MBB} 5pm | ACCN | Syr -9.5 | O/U 143.5

Chattanooga Mocs at #7 Tennessee Volunteers

{WBB} 5:30pm | SECN+

Samford Bulldogs at #21 LSU Tigers

{WBB} 6pm | SECN+

Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks

{NBA} 6:30pm | NBAtv

Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers

{NBA} 9:30pm | NBAtv

At least one of those approaches “watchable”, right?

OK fine, MNW, we’ll watch soccer.

About damn time! What took you?

  • {League One} Doncaster Rovers vs. Sunderland [6:30am, ESPN+]
  • {ISL} NorthEast United vs. Mumbai City [8am, Onefootball]
  • {EFL} Derby County vs. West Bromwich Albion [9am, ESPN+]
  • {Super Lig} Konyaspor vs. Besiktas [11am, beIN]
  • {EFL} Queens Park Rangers vs. AFC Bournemouth [11:30am, ESPN+]
  • {EPL} Newcastle United vs. Manchester United [2pm, USA Network]
  • {Belgium A} Beerschot vs. Anderlecht [2pm, ESPN+]

Here’s your open thread for the day’s sports. Behave accordingly.