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Wayne Cavadi | | September 22, 2017

GLIAC foes No. 2 Ferris State and Ashland highlight DII football showcase

  No. 2 Ferris State faces its biggest test yet in Ashland in this week's DII football showcase.

Two nationally ranked teams. One team that has received more votes than any other non-Top 25 team in Division II football.

RELATED: 5 takeaways from the AFCA Week 3 poll

This week should be fun, as the DII showcase features a major Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle and a surging Catawba team that jumped from the unranked into the Top 25.

Ferris State (2-0) at Ashland (2-1), 7 p.m. ET


This game is arguably the DII Game of the Week. Not only is this a huge GLIAC matchup with possible postseason implications, there is a bit of a rivalry brewing between these two teams. The last time the Bulldogs and Eagles faced off, the Eagles overcame a 31-14 defecit to snap Ferris State's 28-game regular season win streak.

This is a game featuring two of DII football's premier quarterbacks. Ferris State's Reggie Bell can hurt opposing defenses in multiple ways, rushing for 254 yards and four touchdowns in his first game and throwing for 216 yards and four touchdowns in his second game. He has led the Bulldogs to DII football's best offense this season. Under center on the other side is Travis Tarnowski, who became Ashland's all-time leading passer ast week. He already owned the mark for most touchdowns, adding to his lore by throwing 10 more already this season.

RELATED: Fueled by Snickers and Jon Snow, Travis Tarnowski becomes Ashland's all-time leading passer

The X-factor in this one may wind up being Ferris State's junior defensive end Zach Seiler. If the preseason All-American can wreak havoc in Ashland's backfield, it may give Bell and the Bulldogs enough time to build a big enough lead that even Tarnowski won't be able to come back from this time. 

2017 outlook:

Ferris State Ashland
2016 record: 12-3 2016 record: 9-2
Head coach: Tony Annese (6th season) Head coach: Lee Owens (14th season)
Preseason ranking: 3 | Current ranking: 2  Preseason ranking: RV | Current ranking: RV

Key players:

Reggie Bell, QB: 700 toal, 8 TDs

Malik Taylor, WR: 189 yards, 1 TD

Zach Seiler, DL: 7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL

Key players:

Travis Tarnowski, QB: 919 yards, 10 TDs, 0 Int

Andrew Vaugh, RB: 253 yards, 3 TDs

Matthew Wilcox, WR: 386 yards, 3 TD

2017 by the numbers:

Ferris State Ashland
Points: 45/ game Points: 37.3/ game
Pass yards: 279/ game            Pass yards: 325/ game                                             
Rush yards: 366/ game Rush yards: 141/ game
Total offense: 645 yards/ game Total offense: 466 yards/ game
Points allowed: 18.5/ game Points allowed: 20.3/ game
Total defense: 290.5 yards/ game                  Total defense: 380.7 yards/ game

Mars Hill (2-1) at Catawba (3-0), 6 p.m. ET


This South Atlantic Conference showdown is a tale of two different seasons. Both teams finished below .500 in 2016, but both are off to hot starts in 2017.

Don't be fooled by Mars Hills lopsided numbers. The Lions took on Division I foe North Carolina A&T in a Week 2 56-0 loss. Mars Hill bounced back in its SAC opener last week, taking down Lenoir-Rhyne 43-28. The Lions handled Shorter 40-14 in Week 1. When you look at the Lions against DII competition, this is a team that can drop 40 points with relative ease. 

The Lions' Keshaun Taylor is a play maker and needs to be kept under close watch if the Indians want to win on Saturday. Taylor is coming off a week in which he threw for a 44-yard touchdown, ran for a 48-yard touchdown, and was on the receiving end of a 70-yard touchdown. Paired with Craig Rucker, Mars Hill has some serious threats in the wide receiver department.

That's the tricky part for Mars Hill as defense is Catawba's strong point. The Indians currently are a top-10 defense in both yardage (No. 8) and scoring (No. 5). Kyle Kitchens has been an absolute beast thus far at linebacker, but it will be Cris Page who will perhaps have to shine brightest. The sophomore defensive back already has already has one two-interception game on the season, and his presence on the outside will be much needed. 

2017 outlook:

Mars Hill Catawba
2016 record: 5-6 2016 record: 5-6
Head coach: Tim Clifton (25th season) Head coach: Catawba (5th season)
Preseason ranking: NR | Current ranking: NR Preseason ranking: NR | Current ranking: 25

Key players:

Keshaun Taylor, WR/KR: 306 yards, 2 TDs

Craig Rucker, WR: 281 yards, 3 TD

Tray Smith, LB: 14 tackles, 2 FF, 1 BU

Key players:

Eamon Smart, RB: 301 rushing, 2 TDs

Kyle Kitchens, LB: 14 tackles, 4 sacks, 6 TFL

Cris Page, DB: 10 tackles, 2 Int, 5 BU, 7 PD

2017 by the numbers:

Mars Hill Catawba
Points: 27.7/ game Points: 39/ game
Pass yards: 100/ game            Pass yards: 261.3/ game                                             
Rush yards: 300.3/ game Rush yards: 157.3/ game
Total offense: 400.3 yards/ game Total offense: 418 yards/ game
Points allowed: 32.7/ game Points allowed: 9.7/ game
Total defense: 432.3 yards/ game                  Total defense: 253.3 yards/ game

Western Michigan cruises to the men's hockey Great Lakes Invitational title

Western Michigan took down Ferris State to win the Great Lakes Invitational.

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