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Wayne Cavadi | | October 20, 2017

GLIAC powers Grand Valley State and Ferris State go head-to-head in this week's DII football showcase

  Marty Carter leads the high-scoring GVSU offense into Big Rapids for a showdown with No. 12 Ferris State.

The biggest game in Division II football this weekend comes to you from Michigan.

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There is only one Top 25 matchup this weekend, and it is a battle in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Anchor-Bone Classic heads to heads to Big Rapids, Michigan where the Bulldogs host the Lakers in this week's DII football showcase. Game 2 features what hopes to be a shootout in the Lone Star Conference.

Grand Valley State (6-1) at Ferris State (5-1), 1 p.m. ET


This is the first of two nationally-ranked teams GVSU has to face in a three week span. The Lakers hope to head into the matchup with Ashland undefeated in the GLIAC, but a fiesty Ferris State stands in their way.

Grand Valley State's offense is one of the most dynamic in DII football. Marty Carter can grind it out on the ground, two weeks removed from a 218 yard, three touchdown performance. Bart Williams plays smart behind center, with reliabe wide receivers at his disposal as well as red-zone machine tight end Nick Keizer and his seven touchdowns. 

Ferris State is banking on the hopeful return of dual-threat quarterback Reggie Bell. Bell has been out since a Week 2 ankle injury but got some warm ups in last week. Bell's two games this season show just how prolific he is at quarterback. He rushed for 200-plus yards with four touchdowns on opening weekend, and threw for 200-pus yards and four touchdowns the following week. That being said, after a loss to Ashland, backup Travis Russell has kept the Bulldogs afloat, improving his yardage and not turning the ball over the past two weeks. Whichever quarterback is under center is lucky to have Malik Taylor catching passes. They will need all the help they can get against the Lakers suffocating pass defense, allowing a DII-best 98.1 yards passing per game.

The Top 25 by the numbers

Both of these teams are highly ranked defensively. Grand Valley State is third in scoring defense (No. 3) and eighth in total defense (266.7). Ferris State isn't far behind, allowing 15.7 points per game (No. 12) and 285 yards a game (No. 15). Obviously these two big playmaking offenses may struggle to separate, but if they do, this has all the makings for an exciting finish.

2017 outlook:

Grand Valley State Ferris State
2016 record: 12-1 2016 record: 12-3
Head coach: Matt Mitchell (8th season) Head coach: Tony Annese (6th season)
Preseason ranking: No. 2 | Current ranking: No. 7 Preseason ranking: No. 3 | Current ranking: No. 12

Key players:

Bart Williams, QB: 1,515 yards, 18:1 TD:Int ratio

Marty Carter, RB:  781 yards, 8 TD

Garrett Pougnet, LB: 42 tackles, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 Int.

Key players:

Malik Taylor, WR: 576 yards, 4 TD

Zach Sieler, DE: 23 tackles, 9 TFL, 4 sacks

Jahaan Brown, RB: 323 yards, 2 TD

2017 by the numbers:

Grand Valley State Ferris State
Points: 40/ game Points: 35.7/ game
Pass yards: 230.9/ game            Pass yards: 228.8/ game                                             
Rush yards: 188.9/ game Rush yards: 228.8/ game
Total offense: 419.7 yards/ game Total offense: 457.6 yards/ game
Points allowed: 10.1/ game Points allowed: 15.7/ game
Total defense: 266.7 yards/ game                  Total defense: 285 yards/ game

Tarleton State (4-3) at Texas A&M-Kingsville (3-4), 8 p.m. ET


Head coach Daren Wilkinson orchestrated one of the more phenomenal turnarounds last season taking a 2-9 Javelinas squad from 2015 all the way to 9-3 and a victory over Southern Arkansas in the Agent Barry Live United Bowl. That earned them some recognition in the preseason polls, but unfortunately, things haven't gone as well in 2017. To be fair, Texas A&M-Kingsville had a brutal start of its schedule. Three of the four losses the Javelinas have suffered have been to teams currently ranked in the Top 10 of DII football (Central Washington, Texas A&M-Commerce and Midwestern State). 

Tarleton State got out to a hot start this season, appearing to turn the corner in Todd Whitten's second season. The Texans, too, have struggled of late, dropping its last two games in a row.

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This game will be won through the air. The Javelinas' rush defense is eighth-best in DII so the Texans Zed Woerner will be called on to lead the air attack. A&M-Kingsville's Cade Dyal is more than capable of answering, especially with a stable of five receivers that have eclipsed 150 yards receiving on the year. The big three in the LSC are starting to dig in atop the standings, so this is a must win for both teams.

2017 outlook:

Tarleton State Texas A&M-Kingsville
2016 record: 5-6 2016 record: 9-3
Head coach: Todd Whitten (2nd season, 3rd stint) Head coach: Daren Wlkinson (3rd season)
Preseason ranking: NR | Current ranking: NR Preseason ranking: RV | Current ranking: NR

Key players:

Zed Woerner, QB: 1,322 yards, 10 TD

Jeff Thomas, WR: 522 yards, 4 TD

Basil Jackson, LB: 67 tackles

Key players:

Cade Dyal, QB: 1,433 yards, 13 TD

Jordan Thomas, WR: 695 yards, 7 TD

Caleb Valentine, LB: 33 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5 sacks

2017 by the numbers:

Tarleton State Texas A&M-Kingsville
Points: 28/ game Points: 23.29/ game
Pass yards: 217.6/ game            Pass yards: 264/ game                                             
Rush yards: 118/ game Rush yards: 137.7/ game
Total offense: 335.6 yards/ game Total offense: 401.7 yards/ game
Points allowed: 25.3/ game Points allowed: 26.29/ game
Total defense: 431.3 yards/ game                  Total defense: 347.3 yards/ game

Battle of the Mascot Week 8:

The Delta State Statesmen (more commonly known as the Fighting Okra) were put to the test against a continually improving West Florida Argos. The Fighting Okra prevailed, remaining in the hunt for the Gulf South Conference title. 

WEEK 1: Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys 28, Southern Arkansas Muleriders 21

WEEK 2: South Dakota School of Mines Hardrockers 35, Dixie State Trailblazers 14

WEEK 3: Califoria (Pa) Vulcans 29, Millersville Marauders 13

WEEK 4: Southeastern Oklahoma State Savage Storm 41, Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils 21

WEEK 5: Washburn Ichabods 35, Pittsburg State Gorillas 20

WEEK 6: Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils 46, Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys 45

WEEK 7: Delta State Statesmen (Fighting Okra) 28, West Florida Argonauts 25

Who's up in Week 8? 

The Edinboro Fighting Scots play host to The Rock of Slippery Rock. Slippery Rock is coming off its first loss of the season at the hands of No. 3 Indiana (Pennsylvania) and will be looking to stay alive in the hunt for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Edinboro could present a real challenge. While Slippery Rock's air attack is one of the most exciting in DII football, the Fighting Scots Zuril Hendrick leads DII with seven interceptions, two of which he's taken to the house. 

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