Grand Valley earns bye, Ferris plays Midwestern State in DII playoffs

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Grand Valley State defensive back Donte Carey returns an interception Saturday in a 24-21 victory over Wayne State at Tom Adams Field in Detroit.

Grand Valley State plays an 11-game, regular-season schedule without a week off.

It finally earned its week off.

The Lakers on Sunday night earned the No. 1 seed in their seven-team region and will open the Division II football playoffs with a bye before playing the winner of Texas A&M-Commerce and Colorado Mesa in Allendale, Mich., on Nov. 26.

"It's huge," Grand Valley State coach Matt Mitchell said Sunday night, after the 28-team field was unveiled. "You look across the landscape of college football right now, the GLIAC is a tough conference.

"Look at the Big Ten right now, nobody's undefeated.

"For us to go 11-0, it took a lot out of us."

Ferris State (9-2) was the other Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team to make the field, and is the No. 2 seed in the region. The Bulldogs open at home against Midwestern State (8-2) next Saturday. A third GLIAC team, Ashland (9-2) just finished on the outside of the playoff picture.

Grand Valley State secured its eighth perfect season in program history, and first since 2008, with a 24-21 victory at Wayne State last Saturday afternoon.

It was severely tested the last two games of the regular season, winning a double-overtime thriller at Saginaw Valley State and the game at Wayne State.

The Lakers have been banged up, with leading receiver Matt Williams not playing against Wayne State, and center Aaron Cox missing from action. Both have lower-body injuries, and both figure to be back after the bye week.

Grand Valley State, ranked No. 2 in the nation behind last year's national champion, Northwest Missouri State, lost in the Division II semifinals a year ago.

But Mitchell said it's not productive for the team to use last year as a motivator right now.

"Right now, we're one of 16 in the nation (after the bye week)," Mitchell said. "The best thing about it is we're going to win a game next weekend without even playing.

"Now we've gotta find a way to be one of eight."

Mitchell plans to give his players some days off this coming week, including Friday and Saturday, before getting to work on preparations for either Texas A&M-Commerce (9-1) or Colorado Mesa (9-2).

For Ferris State, this is its third consecutive playoff appearance, after previously not making it since 1996. Its season a year ago ended with a 38-34 loss to Grand Valley State in the Super Region semifinals.

Here's the complete Division II playoff bracket.