Preview: An Anchor-Bone Classic unlike any other

GVL / Sheila Babbitt Homecoming football  game vs Dixie State on October 7th, 2018.

GVL / Sheila Babbitt Homecoming football game vs Dixie State on October 7th, 2018.

Brady McAtamney

Every year in college football, there are big games. Ranked teams duking it out for bragging rights. Rivals meeting up for their annual battle. Conference leaders squaring off to gain regional supremacy. 

Not often are all of those aspects and more combined into one game as they will be this weekend when the No. 2 Grand Valley State Lakers (6-0, 3-0 GLIAC) host their archrival No. 3 Ferris State Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0) at Lubbers Stadium for the first time since 2016 on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m.

“There’s so much at stake with this game. It has conference championship implications,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “It has home field playoff implications. It has the Anchor-Bone trophy associated. It has two rival institutions that are not too far apart that are arch-rivals in terms of a lot of athletic departments. When you start stacking all this stuff up, the magnitude of this game, there’s a lot. We really hope we can get a lot of people out and get that home-field advantage that we’ve had.”

Home field advantage is something the Lakers have thoroughly enjoyed in recent years, losing only twice in Allendale since the 2015 season – both of which were to the Bulldogs (61-24 in 2015, 47-32 in the 2016 playoffs). 

This will be the first matchup between the two schools in which either is ranked in the top two since 1996 when unranked GVSU beat No. 1 FSU 36-17 and the first time ever that the teams meet while both ranked in the top three nationally.  

After beating the Lakers by a single point in Big Rapids last season, the Bulldogs come into Saturday’s matchup bearing a handful of fresh faces, most notably at quarterback with the addition of transfer Jayru Campbell – a former Michigan State football commit. 

“He’s a dynamic quarterback,” said defensive lineman Michael Pettis. “He can do a lot with his feet, he can do a lot with his arm. Our plan is to give him a couple different fronts; move around, bring some pressure in his face, try to frustrate him. Hit him early and hit him often, take away what he does best.”

Through six games, Campbell has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 1,413 yards, 14 touchdowns and only one interception. He is also the team’s leading rusher in terms of carries (108), yards (606) and touchdowns (10). 

While Campbell may be dynamic and, at times, explosive, he has yet to face off with GVSU or battle a defense as capable as the one the Lakers will bring on Saturday as no teams on their schedule are over .500 as of the end of week six. 

On the other side of the coin is Bart Williams, who will be making his sixth career Anchor-Bone Classic start. He, too, has produced strong numbers in 2018 and he knows that while his defense has to game plan for Campbell, the Bulldogs have to prepare for him and his arsenal of offensive weapons. 

“They have a really good scheme and some really good players,” Williams said. “It might come down to, sometimes, one-on-one matchups; our guy versus their guy in the run game, in the pass game. Every week we try to find ways to get some guys open, but with how talented they are and the scheme that they run, it might be a little tougher this week than other weeks but, again, I think we’re up for the challenge. It’s going to be a lot of fun like it is every time we play them.”

Lakers-Bulldogs is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. from Lubbers Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13. The game will stream on and can be heard on ESPN Radio 96.1.