Game Notes: #1 Grand Valley State @ Ferris State


McMahon to Shuford

Have you ever noticed that their are a lot of schools in Michigan that end in State? Grand Valley State takes on another state from their own state this weekend when they travel to Big Rapids to play the Ferris State Bulldogs. Before last weekend this was shaping up to be a huge game. Both teams were undefeated in the GLIAC North. The Bulldogs lost to Northern Michigan in the dome 22-20 though to take some of the luster off of the game. With about four minutes left in the game Northern Michigan kicked a field goal that gave Ferris their first loss in the GLIAC this season. As it is though if Ferris State wins they can still pull back even in the standings. This game is the season right now for Ferris State. This will be my first trip to Top Taggert Field. At one point in my life I almost attended Ferris State for all the wrong reasons, so this will be a cool trip to see the campus a little. In conjunction with the football game Saturday I will also be at the Ferris State hockey game that night against Ohio State (Another State team). I figured that I sold my Ohio State football tickets for Saturday against Purdue so I should at least see part of the Ohio State game and boo the hockey team. I will be against the Bulldogs in the afternoon, but I hope they can pull off the win at night. 

When I was looking at both teams prior to writing this I saw that they have played for the Anchor Bone Trophy since 2002. The series has been one sided since that time so Ferris has yet to take home the trophy. The Lakers have won all seven games since the trophy was introduced by Huntington Bank. The Lakers have won 9 straight in the series, but they have had some close calls in that span. Last year the Lakers needed a late score to take the trophy home again. As I said I had to do some research before writing this because I did not know very much about Ferris State, and my knowledge of Grand Valley is also limited. A good site that was invaluable was The Official Ferris State Bulldogs Athletics Blog. It is written very well by Sandy Gholston who is also a co-host of the Bulldog Beat Football Show which airs live every Thursday night here. Of course Grand Valley has several outlets, but so far I have enjoyed reading GVFootball.com. If you want expert opinions on this game you should probably check one of those sources out.

If you are still here then you must want to read on. Thank you. I put together a little chart with some key stats head to head for both teams. It is kind of a way for me to get to know both teams a little better before Saturday. )The rank on the left of each statistic is the overall rank in Division 2.)

Grand Valley State Ferris State
Rushing Yards Per Game #9 238 Rushing Yards Allowed #32 114
Passing Yards Per Game #48 225.71 Passing Yards Allowed #54 188.43
Total Yards Per Game #12 463.71 Total Yards Allowed #30 302.43
Rushing Yards Allowed #84 148 Rushing Yards Per Game #34 177.43
Passing Yards Allowed #106 225.43 Passing Yards Per Game #100 177.29
Total Yards Allowed #101 373.43 Total Yards Per Game #71 354.71
Points Scored #2 43.86 Points Allowed #52 21.71
Points Allowed #50 21.45 Points Scored #73 27
Turnovers Lost #3 5 Turnovers Forced #104 11
Turnovers Forced #18 19 Turnovers Lost #40 11
Turnover +/- #3 14 Turnover +/- #64 0

One thing that stuck out right away for me was the turnover margin. Grand Valley is +14 on the season only losing the football five times so far. Both of those stats are good for #3 in the nation, and best in the GLIAC. Ferris State has turned the ball over as often as they have forced turnovers. Turnovers will usually win you games, and that is a stat you always want to win. With the chance of rain in the forecast for Saturday keeping the football will be very important. Another thing I will be watching is Ferris State’s passing versus Grand Valley. The Lakers are #106 in D2 defending the pass, and Ferris is #100 in D2 passing. Who will win this battle? The Grand Valley defense must step it up if they want to walk away winners Saturday. They have allowed ten points or less in three of their last four games so they have turned things around a little. They are still allowing a lot of yards to the other team, but they seem to buckle down close. Ferris is strong up front on defense, and Grand Valley is not too bad themselves. This is another matchup that I will enjoy watching. Ferris has two players who lead the GLIAC in sacks, and a linebacker who is in the top ten in tackles in the country. I have not seen them play, but from what I have read they are very good. Will the front seven of Ferris State prevail? They must have a good game to keep the Lakers off balance. If they cannot get a push the Lakers will have a field day. One stat that is not listed is the fact that the Lakers average 29.13 yards per kickoff return. That helps give Grand Valley a shorter field. The Bulldogs need to stay in their lanes and contain the Laker returns.

When you are Grand Valley State you take everyone’s best shot. This week will be no different. Ferris State sees this as a huge game not only for the present, but also the future. They see a win being a huge cornerstone for the program. A huge crowd is expected at Top Taggert Field for this showdown. Last year Ferris was in a tailspin, but kept it close the entire game. Grand Valley needed a score in the last five minutes to pull out the win. Ferris also has a chip on their shoulder. They used to be the big brother in this series, but things have changed. Grand Valley is now the power. The last time the Bulldogs beat the Lakers was in 1999. The last time they won at Top Taggert Field was in 1995. Clearly the Bulldog fans would love a win. Let me rephrase that. They need a win. I think that the weather may keep the score down, but Grand Valley will walk away with the win.

As usual just because I am not attending the Purdue game does not mean that I won’t talk about it. Last season Purdue pulled off a huge upset when they beat the #7 Ohio State Buckeyes at home. A key to that game was the constant badgering of Terrelle Pryor by Ryan Kerrigan. He will have to be huge this week if Purdue wants to make it two upsets over the Buckeyes in a row. I think that the road will be long for them if they want to bring home the win. Rob Henry will get his first real test in the ‘Shoe. He did all right in his first road win, but Evanston is far from Columbus.

Purdue needs just two more wins to become bowl eligible. This is a huge plus for a team that most people left for dead after losing at home to Toledo. I have seen a lot about going to a lower tier bowl game, but it gives everyone an extra month to practice and gives the seniors one more game. If Purdue can get to any bowl it would be a huge deal. That being said it will be a hard road for them to get two more wins. They have six games remaining with only one real toss up left. In the rest of the games Purdue will be underdogs. I sat here thinking about the chances of Purdue winning each game for the rest of the season, and here is what I came up with:

  • @Ohio State 12%
  • @Illinois 30%
  • Wisconsin 10%
  • Michigan 45%
  • @ Michigan State 12%
  • Indiana 55%

As you can see (at least how I see it) Purdue will have to pull off an upset or two to go bowling. That does not mean that it won’t happen though. It would just make it that much sweeter if they can do it. They came so close last season only to fall one game short.

Predictions: Last week I went 8-2 to bring my season record to 59-11. This week could go either way. There are only a couple games of the ten that are one sided in my opinion. I have a few match ups of ranked teams along with some other games that I think the upset is very possible. Many that I have seen have Wisconsin getting beat by Iowa even after taking down Ohio State easily last week. Since Iowa is the favorite I guess that my upset pick of the week is Wisconsin over Iowa. The Hawkeyes are a good team that plays well at home, but I think the two headed monster of Clay and White will be too much. J.J. Watt could also make a huge name for himself with another good game. Here is how I see things going this week:

  • #7 Michigan State 35 – Northwestern 28
  • #10 Ohio State 42 – Purdue 27
  • #16 Nebraska 30 – #14 Oklahoma State 27
  • #13 Wisconsin 23 – #15 Iowa 21
  • Penn State 24 – Minnesota 19
  • Illinois 17 – Indiana 10
  • Notre Dame 31 – Navy 16
  • #4 Auburn 38 – #6 LSU 35
  • #1 Oklahoma 35 – #11 Missouri 23
  • #1 Grand Valley State 41 – Ferris State 26
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