An interesting thing happened on the way to a NCAA Division II football semifinal between rivals Northwest Missouri State and Grand Valley State (Mich.).
Ferris State (Mich.) defeated Grand Valley, a four-time national champion, 47-32 last weekend and reached the semifinals for the first time since 1995. The Bulldogs will face the Northwest Missouri Bearcats at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Maryville, Mo.
Ferris State rolled up 275 rushing yards against Grand Valley State, but wide receiver Malik Taylor was the individual star with five receptions for 132 yards.
But the Bulldogs, 12-2, will be running into a Bearcats defense that has been dominant throughout the postseason. Northwest Missouri blanked Harding (Ark.) last week 35-0 after beating Emporia State 44-13 the previous week.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge,” Ferris State coach Tony Annese said. “Offensively we’re going to have to grind some things out.”
Annese compared Northwest Missouri’s defense to another his program has faced. In 2013, the Bulldogs played North Dakota State, which would win the FCS national championship that season.
“They (North Dakota State) had just beaten Kansas State the week before,” Annese said. “That’s the closest I’ve seen to a defense this stout.”
One of those Northwest Missouri defenders, end Collin Bevins, was named first team All-America by the AFCA earlier this week. Bevins, an Iowa State transfer, is the Bearcats career record holder with 57 tackles for loss and 33 sacks.
Northwest Missouri, 13-0, is the defending national champion. Saturday’s winner will advance to the national championship game on Dec. 17 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.