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Motor city preview 12-26

College football

Motor City bowl is tonight

DETROIT — When Joe Tiller came to Purdue in 1997, he was told his high-octane offense would never work in the Big Ten.

Not only wouldn’t the spread attack fly in a conference that still believed in Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and "three yards and a cloud of dust," a pass-based system wouldn’t work in the wind and cold of a Midwest autumn.

Luckily for both the Boilermakers and their Motor City Bowl opponents, Tiller didn’t pay any attention. At Ford Field tonight, Purdue will play its 10th bowl game in 11 years, facing the back-to-back Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan Chippewas, who also use the spread offense.

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"When I got to Purdue, they told me that there was no way the spread would work here because of the weather," Tiller said. "That never made much sense to me, because I had just been having great success with it in Wyoming."

While Tiller was one of the coaches to bring the spread offense — a system using four or five receivers on many plays, and a quarterback in the shotgun formation on most snaps — to a wider audience, it has now become the latest trendy scheme. Tiller, though, doesn’t mean that it is some kind of super attack.

"It’s one of those cyclical things — right now, the spread is the hot offense," he said. "In a few years, the pendulum might change, and everyone will be playing the wishbone."

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