Week Eight Previews
by, 10-18-2012 at 11:27 PM (2393 Views)
Tiffin (1-5, 2-5) at Walsh (1-5, 2-5)
The Dragons will roll into Canton after posting their first GLIAC victory in four years. Can Tiffin make it two in a row? Certainly, Walsh will have something to say about it as they look to defend their home field and bounce back after being humbled a week ago by Ashland.
The key to this game will be whether or not Tiffin's offense will be able to generate yards and points. Despite the losing record, Walsh's defense is actually in the top half of the league and has been surprisingly stingy against most of their opponents. While they have given up some points at times, for the most part they've made their foes work for every inch...and they've had to due to an offense that at 17.7 points per game isn't really holding up their end of the deal.
When looking at a pair of 2-5 clubs, one looks at teams that have taken their lumps so far to be sure. That said, Walsh has proven to be a bit more "rough-and-tumble" thus far, and we like their defense and the home field to keep Tiffin in check. Walsh 24, Tiffin 17.
Northern Michigan (1-5, 2-5) at Wayne State (4-2, 4-2)
A surprise win over Grand Valley has to provide a certain "shot in the arm" for Northern. So, how will they follow-up their performance last week? Eeesh...with a trip to Detroit to face a Wayne club that is less than pleased with how they performed on national television last week.
Give the 'Cats credit. They worked the film room and replicated what has worked against the Laker defense. Similar holes are likely not to be found against the Warriors, however, as Wayne's defense continues to perform in the upper echelon of the league. Not to mention the Warriors are not dealing with the health issues that GV is. This is hungry bunch that forced turnovers and really played well a week ago, and has now had an extra couple of days (thanks to the Thursday night affair) to rest and prepare.
It's not a stretch to expect the WSU defense to continue to play well. Where we're looking for a step up is by the offense. Look for the ground game to continue to be a staple, but we also think that Mickey Mohner and company might work things a bit more effectively on Saturday...especially against the GLIAC's #14 pass defense. Wayne State 38, Northern 18.
Findlay (4-2, 4-2) at Lake Erie (2-4, 2-5)
This match-up has some unique intrigue to it. Findlay hits the road looking to bounce back after a rather surprising loss last weekend...losing to ODU wasn't the surprise in and of itself, but rather the fact that they let the Panthers paste them over the final 20 minutes to win by 30+. The Oilers have some work to do to make sure that last quarter and change doesn't set the tone for the rest of their season and any sort of collapse.
On the other side of the coin, Lake Erie has cobbled together a two-game win streak. They have to be feeling better about things now than at any other point this year, and we'd bet that Coach McNellie is looking to keep this rally going and see if it can't even carry over to next season. The problem? Their defense is still rather porous, including being ranked last in the GLIAC against the pass. With Clay Belton coming to town (he's throwing for more than 282 yards per game), LEC better have their boot straps pulled up.
On paper, this is Findlay's game to take. While we think there are some intangibles here (namely what these clubs will do the rest of the way) at play, the Oilers have simply been more consistent on both sides of the ball thus far. Plus, with Belton should have a solid outing, especially if he keeps finding playmakers like Seth White and Jaryd Brown. Last, the Oilers don't want to lose in a game where barring something really unforeseen Monterae Williams will set UF's all-time rushing record. Congrats to Monterae, as he is only seven yards away from unseating Nelson Bolden who has held the mark since 1980. Findlay 44, Lake Erie 21.
#25 Michigan Tech (5-1, 5-1) at Ferris State (4-2, 5-2)
This is a great match-up, and the folks heading to Top Taggert on Saturday should be in for a treat. Ferris boasts the GLIAC's top rushing offense, while Tech will roll in with the league's best run defense. Can the Huskies slow down Jason VanderLaan and the Bulldog veer? That head-to-head should be worth the ticket in and of itself.
To us, it's safe to assume that both sides of that duel will win some plays, and lose some others. Let's presume they fight to a draw. Where we really think the difference can be made is with the Tech passing offense. Tyler Scarlett as really ramped up his production in his sophomore season at the controls, and this is thanks in no small part to the emergence of wide-out Matt Curtin who is now second in the league in receiving at just over 100 yards per game. Toss in one of the better tight ends in the region in Bryan LaChappelle and the Tech pass offense is as potent as it has been in years. Pair that with a Ferris pass defense that is next to last in the GLIAC, and we think THIS match-up might go farther in determining who wins this game.
Historically, the U.P. teams struggle on the road. Ferris wants to bounce back after a tough loss a week ago, but the Huskies are looking to maintain their claim to the top spot in the North. We think this one is tight, but we like Tech's ability to throw it to make the difference. Michigan Tech 22, Ferris 20.
#14 Saginaw Valley (5-1, 6-1) at #23 Hillsdale (5-1, 5-2)
Saginaw gets a ranked opponent for the second straight week as they hit the road to take on the Chargers. While there are some key games going on in the GLIAC this week, this one is likely the "Game of the Week" as it pits two ranked clubs that will be fighting to maintain a grip on first placed in the North. Not to mention there is a nice little rivalry between these clubs, especially with some of the tight contests they have played in recent years.
The playmakers in this one require little introduction. QB Jon Jennings is putting up big numbers once again for Saginaw Valley as he leads the GLIAC in total offense at almost 334 yards per game. He has the league's top pass catcher at his disposal in Jeff Janis, and these two have connected 61 times already this year for nine scores. They will be looking to out-duel Joe Glendening, who somewhat quietly has resumed his mantle atop the league in rushing at more than 136 yards per contest.
So what will be the difference in this one? It might be cliche, but mistakes. The blueprint on giving Saginaw Valley fits is possessing the ball and keeping "JJ-Squared" off the field (almost went with JJ-Fad, but anyone younger than 35 won't get that). This is Hillsdale's bread-and-butter, but that gets compromised if they turn it over (see their visit to WSU). If Hillsdale is able to establish Glendening on the ground and hold the ball for 35:00 or more, the sledding will be tough for the Cards...especially on the road. It's a tight one that can go either way, but we tend to like the Chargers at home. Hillsdale 29, Saginaw Valley 25.
Northwood (3-3, 4-3) at Grand Valley (4-2, 5-2)
Both clubs enter this tilt trying to fight off losing streaks...NU started 4-0 and hasn't won since, while GV has dropped two straight after winning five in a row to open the year. Each is still within ear shot of the North lead, so combine that with wanting to get past their failings of late and we have ourselves nice match-up.
We all know about the bevy of injuries that the Lakers have suffered this year. Signs are pointing to Brandon Beitzel having to go again at QB, so Grand Valley will have to be able to run the ball effectively and consistently...no small feat given they're down multiple guys at RB AND they are facing the GLIAC's second stingiest run defense. While that does favor Northwood, the Woodies have some player availability issues of their own. QB Aaron Shavers is questionable after getting knicked-up against Tech a week ago, and leading rusher Cameron Jackson won't be available for the rest of the year due to being suspended. With the struggles the GV defense has had this year (especially against the run), they'll take any glimmer they can find...including possibly facing some NU back-ups AND the favorable prospects of getting at least a couple of their front seven starters back into the line-up.
Regardless of whether or not Shavers plays, look for NU to work the ground game. While The Woodies have been far more balanced on offense this year, they know that working the run (especially in the middle) has hurt GV this year. If the Lakers can stop that and run the ball effectively, their chances improve. If they can't, it then becomes a scenario where GV must match score-for-score. Unless Grimes plays, that looks like it might be a tall order. Until we see a ground game stopped by the Lakers, it's hard not to like a team facing them that you know can run it. Northwood 34, Grand Valley 27.
#11 Ashland (6-0, 7-0) at Malone (1-5, 1-5)
With all due respect to Malone, this one is pretty hard to find anything intriguing about it. Ashland comes in as one of the top outfits both offensively and defensively, which has been especially true over the last month or so when the Eagles hit their South schedule. Given that Malone hasn't done much against anyone in the league (only scoring 17 points per game) INCLUDING the South, it's hard to see Ashland stumbling here unless something bizarre happens.
Sorry, Pioneer, fans...we ain't mad at'cha! Just don't see you keeping pace with all the ways Ashland is handling their business thus far. Look for another solid (and likely brief) outing from Taylor Housewright and some clock-burning by the McCune/Taylor duo as the Eagles cruise. Ashland 50, Malone 10.
Ohio Dominican (3-3, 4-3) at Notre Dame (0-6, 1-6)
After see-sawing with Findlay for a good chunk of the game last week, ODU got on a major roll and closed out a resounding victory with a bang. The Panthers hit the road again to face the only team left in the GLIAC that hasn't snagged a victory in league play. Can NDC get off the schneid at the expense of their guests?
Well, anything is possible we suppose. Falcon running back Pedro Powell is knocking on the door of the 1000-yard mark for the year, and the Falcons have been able to put up points most weeks. The problem is that they are still yielding nearly 50 a week and will get an ODU bunch that has shown it can cash in on defenses that aren't ready to play stout for 60 minutes. Until NDC puts some kind of consistent set of stops together over a game or two, it's hard to favor their chances.
Look for Panther RB Brandon Schoen to keep it rolling for ODU as they head back down I-71 Saturday night with a victory. Ohio Dominican 45, Notre Dame 35.