HOUGHTON - Two angry football teams are set to meet Saturday night at Lubbers Stadium in Allendale, but only one of them will be able to avoid a two-game losing streak.
Michigan Tech heads into one of, if not the toughest road venue in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference trying to correct what went wrong in its first loss of the season, a 40-19 decision at Findlay.
"(Findlay) did some things that hurt us, but when you go minus-four in the turnover ratio, they run the ball for over 300 yards and you run it for 60, you're not going to win very many of those ballgames," Tech coach Tom Kearly said in an interview for michigantechhuskies.com.
Last Saturday just wasn't a good day for the Huskies, who lost three fumbles and an interception, leading to 21 Oiler points. UF also scored four of its five touchdowns from outside the red zone.
"A week ago (vs. Walsh), we gave up one football play that was double-digits in yards. This past week, we gave up 14. We've got to get that down to three, four, five and make sure we don't get the big plays on us," Kearly said.
The Huskies played Findlay essentially even in the first half before getting outscored 23-3 after halftime.
Grand Valley's disastrous afternoon at Ohio Dominican last Saturday basically started from the opening kickoff.
The Lakers allowed a field goal, went three-and-out on their first drive, punted and gave up a touchdown on the return, threw an interception on their next drive, then gave up another score to trail 17-0 after a quarter. The Panthers also returned a kickoff for a score and recorded a safety for a 19-point halftime lead, then completed the rout by shutting out the Lakers, who were ranked No. 9 in last week's American Football Coaches Association Division II poll, 24-0 after the break.
However, that game was in Columbus. At Allendale, the Lakers, now No. 25 in the nation, have played to crowds over 10,000 in each of their first three home games, all wins.
Still, Kearly didn't use the Huskies second trip to Ohio in three weeks to explain the Findlay game and said he won't use the bus as an excuse.
"At halftime (vs. Findlay), we were tied. If you're not ready to go, it probably would have showed early." he said. "We're going to travel at Michigan Tech. We can never use that as an excuse and we won't."
Among the highlights for Tech from the Findlay trip was an effective passing game. Brandon Cowie racked up 11 catches for 142 yards, Anthony Root had 85 yards receiving on four catches, and quarterback Tyler Scarlett was 27-for-52 for 367 yards and two touchdowns.
Containing the Lakers' athleticism will be a major factor.
"Maybe what sets them apart from the rest of the league is the number of people they have that can run," Kearly said.
Tech has won only three of 26 meetings with the Lakers, but each of the last three have been close: In 2010, Phil Milbrath ran for 293 yards as the Huskies shocked the No. 1 Lakers in Houghton. In 2011, Tech led into the fourth quarter until a touchdown turned things GVSU's way with 9:31 to play, and in 2012, the Huskies came dangerously close to overturning a 44-7 deficit, coming a possession away in a 51-43 loss.
Game time in Allendale is 7 p.m.