If pressed, you'd probably admit you don't much care who wins the 2011 Little Caesars Bowl between the Purdue Boilermakers and Western Michigan Broncos. And the truth is, most anyone outside both fanbases might not have even realized the game was on today.
But don't tell that to WMU faithful and their MAC bretheren. Where you see another bowl game between middling teams that you didn't watch at all this season, they see opportunity. Where you see a 7-5 MAC team and a 6-6 Big Ten squad, they see a chance to make a statement.
SB Nation's MAC blog The Hustle Belt explains...
But it might be the best facet of MAC football to some. At its best, it's a proven MAC team playing a decent Big Ten team on a neutral field. This isn't Akron-Ohio State, or Kent State-Alabama. It's a team with a chance, but more importantly, it's a team that has been together for a dozen games, rather than slumming through the first month trying to figure out everybody's strengths.
This is a final exam for Western Michigan. They played through a full season, did a lot of great things offensively, somehow flaunted the MAC Defensive POY, and get to play a Big Ten team who I respect above others because they'll actually — gasp — travel to MAC schools.
A win here doesn't earn the MAC a BCS bid or change the dynamic between them and the Big Ten. But it's still a win over a Big Ten squad in Big Ten country. Or should I say MAC country?