Saginaw Valley (1-2, 1-3) at #11 Hillsdale (2-1, 3-1)
The Chargers return home looking to "right a few wrongs" against Saginaw Valley. While these rivals didn't play the last two seasons, the Cardinals were on the better end of things the seven prior meetings. The most painful of those losses for Hillsdale came in the 2007 clash, where falling 24-21 on the last day of the season likely kept Hillsdale out of the playoffs.
Saginaw Valley Keys:
- Find a reason, and quick - We just discussed why Hillsdale will likely be jacked-up for this one (as if trying to keep a one-loss season going isn?t enough), but one has to start wondering what the motivation will be for SV moving forward. At 1-3, a playoff berth is (likely) already off the table. One has to wonder if falling to 1-4 causes the wheels to come off completely, ensued by a colossal tailspin. The Cardinals need to dig deep and find a reason/way to win this weekend. A victory over a highly-ranked opponent could do wonders for their psyche, and the rest of their campaign.
- Find some kind of run game - Everyone knows Hillsdale will pound the ball on the ground like they have every other week this year. Saginaw Valley must find a way to establish a consistent ground game of their own, keep sustained drives moving, and avoid having their defense on the field for extended periods of time. If Hillsdale controls the flow of the game and the Cardinals don?t establish a way to disrupt that, this one could get ugly.Hillsdale Keys:
- Don't change now - Look, Hillsdale has proven they can move the ball on anyone in this league. Their preference is to run the ball, mix in a nice number of short to intermediate passes, and take well-time shots downfield. This just sets up all too well against SV, who is allowing more than 150 yards per game on the ground and yielded three touchdown passes of 41 yards or more last week alone.
- Pass Protect - One thing the Cardinal defense has done pretty well this year is get to the quarterback, and they are in the top half of the GLIAC in that category. While he doesn't do anything especially flashy, HC quarterback Troy Weatherhead does pretty much everything very well. Having him pressured (or worse yet, knocked out of the game) could seriously derail what the Chargers like to do. Hillsdale's excellent O-line must keep up their high-level of play, especially in pass protection.Prediction - Despite the lack of a reliable running game, Saginaw Valley has found a way to score points pretty much every week. I expect they'll do so again this week, but I'm having a hard time seeing them scoring enough to win - especially after the "wake-up call" of sorts the Chargers endured a week ago. Hillsdale 35, Saginaw Valley 25.
Be sure to read the rest of Tony's column this week.