Here are five takeaways from this weekend’s football scene around the state.
When will Matthew Stafford return?
After eight years of Matthew Stafford gutting out injuries and playing 136 consecutive games, Lions fans got a taste of what life is like without their franchise quarterback in a 20-13 loss to the Bears on Sunday.
Now, the big focus should be on just how serious Stafford’s back injury is, and how many more times in the short- and long-term future the Lions have to be without him.
Stafford is only 31 years old, but he came into the league younger than most quarterbacks at age 21.
Stafford already has 11 seasons worth of hits in the NFL, so there is sizable tread on his tires, so to speak.
Back injuries usually don’t go away quickly or quietly either.
Given this season is already lost, it might be wise for the Lions to let Stafford sit as long as possible this year to ensure he can still be himself in 2020 and beyond.
Subdued buzz for MSU-UM
Sadly, this will probably be one of the least anticipated Michigan vs. Michigan State games in the history of the rivalry when the teams clash on Saturday in Ann Arbor.
Without championships, the only solace each has the rest of the season is to beat their main rival.
For U-M, that opportunity won’t come until Ohio State visits Michigan Stadium on Nov. 30.
Beating MSU is more about avoiding embarrassment and smack talk from MSU fans for the Wolverines.
For MSU, the opportunity to salvage the season by beating its rival is the Michigan game, but after Saturday’s epic collapse against Illinois, how many fans realistically believe the Spartans can pull that off?
Some believe this is Mark Dantonio’s last stand, and that an improbable win over Michigan would get the people calling for him to retire off his back.
But the Illinois defeat and the nightmarish season MSU has had indicates that not even upsetting the Wolverines will reverse the downward course the program is on.
Big win for WMU shakes up MAC West
While it didn’t happen over this past weekend, last Tuesday, Western Michigan earned a big home win over Ball State.
Thanks to a 35-31 win, WMU not only became bowl-eligible by earning its sixth win, but it moved into a tie for first place in the MAC West standings with Central Michigan.
Each team has 4-2 league records going into the final two games of the regular season.
Ball State and Toledo are right behind at 3-2.
Ferris State tops Grand Valley in battle of Division II ranked teams
The most anticipated intra-state Division II college football game of the season took place on Saturday, as No. 14 Grand Valley State played at No. 2 Ferris State for GLIAC supremacy.
Ferris State prevailed, 21-16, to clinch the outright GLIAC title and beat Grand Valley State for the fourth straight year.
Ferris State, which advanced to the Division II national title game last year, is 10-0 heading into postseason play while Grand Valley State is 8-2.
Prep football playoffs head to regional round
There weren’t the number of upsets in the second round of the prep football playoffs as there were in the first round, and now this weekend’s regional final round (de facto quarterfinals) will feature some terrific matchups.
The best one should be between 10-0 Belleville and 9-1 West Bloomfield on Friday at Belleville in a matchup between two teams loaded with future college players.
Michigan fans should definitely be interested, since three of Jim Harbaugh’s incoming recruits are playing in the game, Belleville defensive back Andre Seldon, West Bloomfield linebacker Cornell Wheeler and West Bloomfield safety Makari Page.
In Division 3, two of the state’s best teams regardless of class, River Rouge and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, will clash in a regional final.
Detroit U-D Jesuit at Detroit Martin Luther King should be a good battle in Division 2.