The Anchor-Bone Classic is one of DII football's best rivalries, especially in recent years. The annual battle of GLIAC superpowers takes on larger meaning in the 2022 rendition. The defending DII football champion — and No. 1-ranked — Ferris State Bulldogs host No. 2 Grand Valley State.
At stake? Obviously, the team that walks away on the losing side has an uphill battle for the GLIAC title. It could also present seeding ramifications for the treacherous Super Region Three come tournament time. The victor is the clear No. 1 team in the land (although quite honestly, the losing team is still No. 2). And one could also argue, the title of "best college football team in Michigan" is on the table.
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Welcome to DII football 2022, ladies and gentlemen.
The 2022 Anchor-Bone Classic: How to watch
It's Ferris State's turn to host the Anchor-Bone Classic. Grand Valley State will make the (roughly) one-hour trek to Top Taggert Field in Big Rapids, MI, for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday. The game will be streamed live on FloSports. You can watch the game by clicking here. Please note, this is a pay site.
Ferris State vs. Grand Valley State: Tale of the tape
There is no love lost between these two rivals, and DII football fans across the nation are in for a treat this Saturday. Both teams are incredibly deep, have muscle in the trenches, and two of the more impressive defenses in the nation.
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It is the 14th time in series history that both teams are in the top 25, but the first time it is No. 1 vs. No. 2. Grand Valley State has played in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game twice prior, winning both (the 2002 and 2006 DII championship games). The Lakers actually fare very well against top-five teams, going 11-6 since the 2002 run began.
Grand Valley State has a 29-22-1 edge in the series, but Ferris State has the advantage in recent years, winning eight of the last nine meetings. That included a thrilling 35-28 victory in last year's Anchor-Bone Classic and a 54-20 win over the Lakers in the second round of the DII football championship tournament. Prior to the Tony Annese era of Ferris State football, this series was all Grand Valley State. The Lakers had won 12 in a row as one of the dominant powerhouses in the land.
How they matchup (Spoiler: It's incredibly close, folks)
|Stat||Ferris State||Grand Valley State|
|Points per game||40.6||41.3|
|Points allowed/ game||12.6||10.1|
|Time of possession||31:10||33:11|
What to know about Ferris State: The Bulldogs are on a 43-game regular-season winning streak and have won 19 in a row overall. They have utterly dominated the GLIAC, winning their last 32 conference games. Annese has made Ferris State "Quarterback U" with a bevy of options to confuse defenses over the years. Mylik Mitchell opened the season as the starting quarterback, but an injury has passed the duties over to Evan Cummins and Carson Gulker, who have gone 4-0 in his stead. Cummins has the ability to pass and run, while Gulker has been bulldozing opponents, leading the team in rushing and already driving the ball in the end zone 12 times on the ground this season. Defensively, defensive end Caleb Murphy has been an absolute beast, leading the nation with 12.5 sacks. Fun fact: Murphy began his college football career at none other than Grand Valley State.
Ferris State statistical leaders
|Evan Cummins||QB||636 pass, 173 rush, 8 total TD, 3 Int|
|Carson Gulker||QB||299 rush, 12 TD, 64 pass|
|Tyrese Hunt-Thompson||WR||231 receiving, 2 TD|
|Brandon Childress||WR||217 receiving, 1 TD|
|Caleb Murphy||DE||39 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles|
What to know about Grand Valley State: If you are new to DII football, you may think the GLIAC is all about Ferris State. But Grand Valley State made its mark early in the 2000s as arguably the premier program in the nation. The Lakers won the DII football championship four times between 2002-06 and current head coach Matt Mitchell had plenty of experience with those teams as an assistant. Current Ferris State Athletics Director Steve Brockelbank was also a coach on those teams.
This rivalry runs deep.
This is the Lakers fourth matchup against a nationally ranked team in 2022... obviously we know how the previous three have gone.
Like Ferris State, the Lakers come at you with a combo of quarterbacks, each with a skillset all their own. Cade Peterson leads the charge, and while his passing numbers speak for themselves, he's smart and doesn't turn the ball over. Tariq Reid can take control in the backfield, but he is not alone by any means. As discussed many times in the DII football Power 10 rankings, Abe Swanson leads one of the best front seven in all of DII and won't make anything easy for the Ferris quarterbacks on Saturday.
Grand Valley State statistical leaders
|Cade Peterson||QB||1,117 pass, 190 rush, 12 total TD, 1 Int|
|Tariq Reid||RB||540 rush, 70 receiving, 10 TD|
|Jahdae Walker||WR||388 receiving, 4 TD|
|Abe Swanson||LB||46 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 Int, 1 forced fumble|
Who's No. 1? Prediction for Saturday
If you follow my work on NCAA.com, you know I've never shied away from a prediction. And normally, I do fairly well. This may be the toughest one yet.
So, here we go.
We saw Ferris State struggle in its GLIAC opener against a Saginaw Valley State team that Grand Valley State defeated by 19 the week before. That is certainly worth noting. Defensively, Murphy may be the best defender in the land causing even more havoc than those sack numbers show, but Swanson leads a stacked defense of big hitters and smart players. When two defenders like that are creating chaos, one mistake can determine the outcome of the game. That's your margin of error in this game: one mistake.
The outcome of this game will be won in the trenches, much like last year's bouts. The last four regular-season matchups have been decided on the final drives as Ferris State won in 2021 by a touchdown, 2019 by five points, 2018 by four points, and 2017 by one point. That's 17 total, and that's not a lot. Defense plays a huge part in this game and there, it's pretty even.
It really comes down to health. If Cade Peterson and Tariq Reid are healthy, they not only are talented, but very experienced. They both played significant minutes in both matchups last year, and not many members of Ferris State's offense can say the same. That may help Grand Valley State end the streak in another classic edition of this rivalry.
I'm going to do something I haven't done much, if at all the past five seasons... and I'm picking against Ferris State.
Final score: Grand Valley State 28, Ferris State 24