Jake Riepma

Round 2 Preview: Ferris State Versus Northwest Missouri State

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For the third consecutive season the Ferris State Bulldogs are the last team representing the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the Division 2 playoffs.

On Saturday the Bulldogs undefeated season will face arguably its toughest test yet when second-seeded Ferris State welcomes sixth-seeded Northwest Missouri State to Top Taggart Field for a second round matchup.

The last time these two teams got together? 2016 in the NCAA D2 National Semifinal game with a trip to the championship on the line. Northwest won that game 35-20 and went on to claim the National Championship for the second consecutive season.

This time around both teams are coming off first round victories. The Bearcats went on the road and completely dominated Grand Valley State in the second half to cruise to a 42-17 win in Allendale, meanwhile Ferris State jumped out to a 21-0 lead over Harding but surrendered 19 unanswered points and had to hold on for the 21-19 win.

The Harding defense was able to slowdown the high-powered Bulldog offense in the second half holding FSU to just one second half first down. Northwest’s defense had no trouble slowing down GVSU last week, holding the Lakers to just 239 yards of total offense. The Bearcats’ defense ranks in the top ten nationally in both rushing defense and total defense. Meanwhile, Ferris State’s offense ranks in the top ten nationally in total offense, but Harding showed they can be stopped. The FSU offense versus the Bearcats’ defense will be a lot of fun to watch.

With all of the attention on Northwest’s defense, don’t sleep on the Northwest Missouri’s offense, and specifically the ground game. The Bearcats’ compiled 356 yards on the ground last week, thanks mostly to the two-headed attack of Isaiah Strayhorn and Josh Caldwell. Strayhorn lead the way with 171 yards on just 11 carries (15.5 yards-per-carry). Ferris State’s defense must be up to the challenge of stopping the Bearcats’ rushing attack. If Northwest is able to control things on the ground, lookout – because that means the FSU offense is helplessly stationed on the sidelines. Sometimes the best defense is your offense’s ability to stay on the field.

Now for the x-factor and perhaps this year’s Harlon Hill winner – Jayru Campbell. He will have to be the playmaker he’s been for most of the season in order for Ferris State to be successful. I believe he will be, but he’ll also need some help. FSU has way too many weapons to be going three-and-out repeatedly like they did last week in the second half versus Harding.

Now for my pick. Whether it’s a March Madness upset or playoff football, in athletics it’s all about peaking at the right time. In this case, it’s about who’s playing the best football right now, and for me, that’s Northwest Missouri State. Because of Northwest’s ability to run the ball, as well as its potent defense, I like the Bearcats to be road warriors in the state of Michigan for the second consecutive week and upset the undefeated Ferris State Bulldogs. Northwest Missouri State 24, Ferris State 17.

I know it’s not what FSU fans want to hear, but at least I have my reasoning!

Looking forward to reading the comments from Bulldog faithful if I’m wrong!

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  1. Redwing's Avatar
    Interesting pick. Tough game to call since I've heard about some potential significant injuries... one being to Mr JC. Keep the words a comin' and enjoy your roles at 97.1 (in spite of my dislike of Valenti)