Hillsdale (3-0, 3-0) at Ferris State (0-2, 1-2)
At face value, this game looks like a potential shootout. The Dale comes in averaging a cool 50 points per game, good for fifth in the nation in Division II. They’ve also shown that their defense can give up a lot of points if they aren’t on their game (42-41 at NMU). Ferris has an offense that can rack up yardage and score points. The problem is that offense apparently had prior commitments and was unable to attend each of their last two games.
– Keep the train on the tracks. Conductor Nicolet has been keeping the coal fire white hot on the Charger Express. I don’t see any reason to change what they have been doing to this point.
– No defensive relapses. The defense must prove that the NMU game was an anomaly. I don’t care how good your offense is – if you get in the habit of giving up 30 points a game or more, sooner or later you’ll pay for it.
– Defense better be ready. The FSU defense actually was a bit better last week before mailing in the fourth quarter and giving up 17 unanswered points. If the Hillsdale offense isn’t the best that Ferris has seen thus far, it is certainly the hottest. The secondary needs to step up big (stopping Aaron Waldie by any means necessary might be a good idea), and the highly touted defensive line needs to earn its preseason accolades and get pressure on Nicolet.
– Establish the run. Hillsdale gave up a ton of rushing yards at NMU. The Bulldogs have several people who can run with the ball, and they need to get that part of the game going to keep the Charger offense off the field.
– Get C.J. settled. VanWieren has the skills and the players around him to burn most defenses. His line needs do a better job of protecting him when passing and giving him room to run when he keeps. If C.J. has a good game, Ferris can hang in and win.
Prediction: I’m surprised with the difficulty Ferris has had on offense the past two weeks, and just don’t know what to make of it. If their defense isn’t ready to go, it may not matter if their offense fixes its issues or not. A Ferris win will only happen if both teams buck their present trends. At the moment, I have no reason to think that will happen.
Hillsdale 40, Ferris 24.