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SMQ Bowl Blitz: The Motor City

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The least you should know about the Motor City Bowl...
The Motor City Bowl is brought to you by the fine, hardworking Americans at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, who remind viewers that the godless Germans and Japanese spent half a decade trying to kill the valiant men who would return overseas to build the greatest automotive empire the world has ever known, the same heroes who are currently bleeding that empire into oblivion through legacy costs (damn unions). Whose side are you on, citizen? Watch the Motor City Bowl – for yourself, for your family, for the men who saved the world...for America.
Location Inquisitor
This is the one in:

a) Detroit
b) Charlotte
c) Tokyo
d) Toronto
e) Nashville

If you said a) Detroit, you’re technically wrong (the game is actually in Pontiac), but as the Pontiac company isn’t a sponsor and Pontiac is pretty much in Detroit, what the hell, you’re right! And you possess the most fundamental grasp of our nation’s geographical, economic and cultural onomastics! These will get harder.

The Venue
If Cincinnati's old Riverfront Stadium or the Vet in Philadelphia were virtual slum-like paragons of no-frills, ACL-shredding discomfort, Ford Field's classy, glassy exterior marks it as a pioneer of athletic arena as hotel lobby meeting room, a beacon of aggressively neutral, bookstore-inspired, faux upscale, brick-facaded suburban plush. SMQ imagines a concession stand by Starbucks and ultra-comfortable seats and just a great place to, like, chill for a minute, right? And patrons aren't even required to cheer. Just enjoy the game at your own pace and if you feel compelled to get a little rowdy, well, then, it's appreciated, as long as maintained within designated zones and appropriate levels of enthusiasm and other patrons’ enjoyment of Josh Groban during timeouts is not impeded. But seriously, man, no pressure. Not that with the Lions, the MAC Championship and the Motor City Bowl that, well, you know...
Formerly Known As...
NA. Compared to the pre-Christmas offerings, the Motor City Bowl boasts an actual tradition of stability, having never changed names or sponsors, invited the first or second-place team from the MAC all eleven years of its existence and only changed venues (an upgrade to Ford Field from the old, soon-to-be-imploded Silverdome) once. In the current December bowl environment, it’s a paragon.
Past Winners Include...
Since the high-flying, Pennington-Moss Marshall teams won the game three straight years from 1998-2000, no team has taken the Motor City Bowl twice. Toledo made the game three times in four years from 2001-04, but lost the latter two by big margins to Boston College and UConn, respectively; Cincinnati also lost two years in a row, 2000 and 2001. Surprisingly – in large part due to Marshall’s early success and the inclusion of a Sun Belt also ran in last year’s game – the MAC has fared well here, at 6-4. Central Michigan won last year over Middle Tennessee State and could join the Herd as multiple winner, but the only other MAC team to beat a BCS conference opponent in the Motor City was Urban Meyer-led Bowling Green, over 6-6 Northwestern in 2003.

The seventh edition of an ongoing public service to enlighten readers of their bowl viewing options...

Details: Purdue (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (7-5) • 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. Be there or be enjoying the warmth and comfort of the Sebring's plush leather interior, valued consumer.

Tune in for: This whole "spread" thing you've been hearing about, that little offense that's taken over college football in the last decade and found itself in the last two seasons the progenitor of a national championship and suddenly invading the grandest old bastion of old school, between-the-tackles harumphism? Joe Tiller started that in the big conferences back in 1997, and Purdue still runs the pass-heavy version of the system as well as anyone - potbellied quarterback Curtis Painter went over 250 passing in ten of twelve games, improved his touchdown percentage and dramatically cut his interceptions (to nine, from 19 in 2006) at the helm of the second-best scoring offense in the Big Ten. Even with predictable struggles against Ohio State and Michigan, the Boilermakers averaged about 27 points in conference games and went over 400 yards total offense in half of them.

LeFevour! The nonfatal strain.
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The best spread quarterback on the field, though, will still be Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour, MAC player of the year, who as a sophomore threw for more 3,300 yards out of the shotgun misdirection, went over 1,000 rushing and scored 40 total touchdowns, versatility and productivity matched only by another sophomore, that Tebow fellow who won that one trophy, whatever it's called. It doesn't matter: attrapez LeFevour! (By which, of course, I mean Dan, the quarterback, not, say, gonnorhea, for instance, which would be accompanied by an actual fever. Excuses aux lecteurs du Français.)

Turn away in disgust when: That half: Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan State, all among the most generous defenses in the conference, and all faring much better against Purdue in the end than Central Michigan did in its regular season meeting with the Boilers. That's right - it not only looks like a lamentable Big Ten-MAC September mismatch, it actually was a lamentable Big Ten-MAC September mismatch, when Purdue gained 300 yards and scored 24 points in the first quarter alone of a 45-22 rout. All of CMU's points then came in the second half, with the game long decided, but even that was hardly the most lopsided of the Chippewas' 1-4 flop outside of their dominating traipse to the MAC championship. Even the best team in the conference was helpless outside of it, enduring a 30-point loss to I-AA North Dakoita State and an ugly 56-point beatdown at the hands of Clemson in which the Tigers went for 656 in total offense and scored ten touchdowns. This was hardly unbefitting of the conference king: in all, the MAC finished 9-40 against the rest of Division I-A and no team had more than one I-A win outside of the league, or a win over any team with more than four wins its own self.

What Else is On
You have no life. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy these actual non-gridiron alternatives:

Univision • 8 p.m. ET • Amar sin Limites (60 mins.)
Una nueva version de la exitosa telenovela agentina. 'Resistiré' en que un hombre mantiene un discreto romance con la esposa de su jefe, un hombre malvado metido en negocios turbios.

Hathaway: never a letdown, and never, apparently, appearing on BBC America.
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BBC America • 8 p.m. ET • My Small Breasts and I (60 mins.)
Three women candidly discuss how they feel about their small breast sizes and the lengths they'll go to improve their self confidence, such as taking herbal supplements, getting implants and visiting a photo therapist. (TV-14)

The Disney Channel • 8:15 p.m. ET • The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (135 mins.)
Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway return for this family-friendly 2004 sequel, a royal letdown that lacks the charm of the original. After college, Princess Mia (Hathaway) moves to Genovia and prepares to take over the throne from her grandmother (Andrews). But when parliament demands that she marry first, Mia is torn between a "suitable" suitor and a dreamboat who may have ulterior motives. Although the scenes between Andrews and Hathaway work beautifully, the screenplay is as contrived and predictable as they get [way to sell it - ed.]. Rated G, the film costars Hector Elizondo.

TBS • 9 p.m. ET • Funniest Commercials of the Year (60 mins.)
A reflection of 2004's wittiest, most entertaining commercials from the United States and abroad. A showcase of memorable ads from the past is also included. Kevin Nealon hosts from various sites in New York City.
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The first unfortunate collision between these two broke Purdue's 12-game losing streak against teams that finished the season with a winning record, as the Chippewas came in this year at 8-5 and obviously will finish no worse than 8-6. The Boilers' last win over a winning team before that? To open the 2005 season, against eventual MAC champion Akron, which finished 7-6 after a loss in the, yes, Motor City Bowl. If not for toothless Mid-American champs the last three years, Purdue would have nothing to hang its hat on at all.

SMQ Watchability Rating: All bowl games are rated on a scale of one TV ("Gifts already returned? Steal some more, then return those.") to five ("Block out a few hours - and possibly the sun, if there's a glare - for this can't-miss classic.") based on completely subjective factors, up to and including potential cheerleader hotness/fulfillment of requisite nubile teen lust fantasies, which are so sadly lacking anywhere else on contemporary television or the Internet.

For pitting two independently undesirable teams in what we already know to be an even less desirable collaboration, the Motor City Bowl is the lamest matchup of the postseason and fortunate to get so much as a full box.

Gifts already returned? Steal some more, then return those.
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The Pick: Purdue dominated the first meeting and should come in with a mountain of confidence, and therefore will probably struggle initially as everyone scratches their heads. But the non-Minnesota Big Ten against the MAC is the non-Minnesota Big Ten against the MAC: the Boilermakers are too talented not to overwhelm CMU with big plays at some point - for all the losses to superior teams, Purdue also has an ongoing, 30-game winning streak against losers. CMU is not that, technically, but close enough.
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Purdue 38 Central Michigan 26