Peter James - Writer and Columnist - GVFootball.com
The previous decade Grand Valley has completely owned the ‘Dawgs. With the 2002 game being cancelled due to a player’s death, Ferris State is still 0-9 in the first full decade of the 21st century against it’s rival an hour South on 131. Let’s look at some history here. We all know about our Lakers, I want to get into some knitty-gritty about the Bulldogs.
1999 Being the last time the Bulldogs beat the Lakers, and that was by a score of 48-23 in the last game of the season. That season Ferris went 7-3 on the year, and coincidentally enough 1999 was the last year that GVSU did not technically have a winning record (5-5 .500). In the nineties they were the class of what is now the GLIAC, making the playoffs several times and having a great run from 1992 till 1996. In that span FSU made the playoffs each of the those seasons, and in 1995 they made the DII National Semi’s and eventually lost to eventual national champion North Alabama at Braly Municipal Stadium. So technically Ferris can say they have “been to ‘Bama”. All the success and dominance came to abrupt end in 1997 as the Bulldogs tallied only three wins that year. Until last season, Ferris was a somewhat steady program since that time. Last year (2009) was an abomination. Highly touted in the pre-season as a heavy playoff contender, Ferris won only one game, and that came in the first week of the season against Tiffin. That was unequivocably the Bulldog’s worst season since going winless in 1983.
Since the mid-90’s, Ferris has sat and watched their younger sibling in Allendale mature. They’ve watched that younger sibling grow to be bigger, far bigger in fact. They have watched that younger brother turn it’s entire athletics department into a championship machine, draw insane crowds for every home game and garner national media attention and press the Bulldogs could only dream of. Ferris is more than twice as old as GVSU, and their athletic budget somewhat larger (thanks to fielding a CCHA Hockey program). GVSU is also in a much larger market, and close to major companies and donors. Soon big-brother was “bigger” only in age. If you don’t think there is some bad-blood stewing in Big Rapids, you haven’t been around the past decade.
Ferris started off the season at a great pace, and by week six was 5-1 with it’s only loss coming to #6 Hillsdale. The Bulldogs wanted to make a statement before the Lakers came to town as they headed to the U.P. to play in the Yooper Dome. Instead, they came away smarting from a close 22-20 loss, one which they for sure wish they had back. Ferris is now 5-2, and any hopes of a playoff birth hinge on Saturday…completely. With Augustana and UMD both undefeated in the NSIC, and Colorado-Mines and Nebraska-Kearney only having one loss each in the RMAC a three-loss GLIAC team will not make the regional field of six. All hopes are now pinned on upsetting the Lakers in Big Rapids, a feat which would certainly put them in the conversation as it would be a huge boost to their strength of schedule. It is their very strength of schedule which right now really hurts them. They have no wins against winning opponents, in-fact two wins have come against Tiffin and Lake Erie whom are both winless. Both Findlay and Ohio Dominican both have only one win apiece. SVSU is their best win, and a 22-20 loss to 4-3 NMU won’t do them any good.
In my opinion, and that of many others, Ferris will put points on Grand Valley. FSU averages 177 yards a game rushing and passing, a rare identical statistical note letting you know they have some balance. I do believe the GVSU defense will be tested just as much as it was against Lake Erie, and probably much more. I don’t think that’s going to be enough for Ferris, and in a game like this they will need some luck. That luck may come if it’s close and we miss a field goal or PAT. Ferris will also need turnovers to come away with an upset Saturday. That area however looks quite a bit better in the Lakers favor. As Tony Nicolette noted in his D2football.com column this week, Ferris has only one take-away in it’s last two games, and GVSU enters this weekend with the GLIAC’s best turnover ratio of +14, and a league low five give-aways. The Laker offensive line might want to look out for Jacob Moreno (90) and Jordon Morgan (14). Those two have combine for 12 sacks on the season on opposing gun-slingers, so if you make the trip keep your eyes on those guys to see how often they get through. If the line can give Kyle (McMahon) time, look for him and the recieving corps. to start tearing large gashes out of the Ferris secondary.
The weather forecast is calling for a high of 65, with rain in the PM hours of Saturday. There might be a possibility of getting this one in before too much comes down, at least we can hope. If you make the trip, bring rain gear. My prediction for Saturday is a 42-24 GVSU victory on the Top Taggart Stadium turf. I think Ferris will keep the game somewhat close in the first half, but as it goes later the GV offense will wear down Ferris’ D and solidify the win. Kickoff is 2pm, and GVFootball.com is hoping to be at the stadium before noon. We will see you in Big Rapids!