America's Crossroads Bowl Preview

December 2nd, 2021 7:00pm

America's Crossroads Bowl Preview

After a year hiatus due to Covid the America’s Crossroads Bowl is back on, featuring a matchup between the Truman State Bulldogs of the GLVC and the Hillsdale Chargers of the GMAC.

This will be Truman’s second appearance in the America’s Crossroads Bowl. In the inaugural 2019 game, the Bulldogs defeated Ohio Dominican 21-7. For Hillsdale, this will be their first postseason action since 2018 when they advanced to the second round of the NCAA playoffs. Both teams met each other in week three of the regular season. The Bulldogs won that game 38-24 thanks in part to a fantastic performance by the D2 leading rusher Cody Schrader who racked up 173 yards and one touchdown on only 14 carries. Truman led the game 38-3 at one point.  The Chargers would not go quietly however, as they would notch the final 21 points of the game.


About Truman State

Best Defensive Performance:  Held a UIndy team that averaged 37 points and 466 yards of offense per game to only 13 points and 359 yards.

Best Offensive Performance: Scored 38 points and gained 473 yards of total offense against a Tiffin team that gave up on average 20 points per game and 359 yards of total offense.

Best Overall Performance: 44-13 victory over McKendree. Totaled 44 points and 474 yards of total offense against a defense that gave up 35 points and 423 yards on average. Held a Bearcat offense that totaled 29 points and 418 yards of offense per game to only 13 points and 329 yards.


Offensive players to watch

  • Cody Schrader, RB: 272 ATT, 1855 YD, 22 TD
  • Dante Ruffin, WR: 37 REC, 421 YD, 5 TD
  • Matt Hall, TE: 33 REC, 433 YD, 5 TD
  • Nick Biesemeyer, OL: All GLVC
  • Dane Eggert, OL: All GLVC
  • Nolan Hair, QB: 174 of 280, 1973 YD, 19 TD, 7 INT,

Defensive players to watch

  • Ben Watson, DB: 80 TOT, 4.5 TFL, 2.5 Sacks, 2 INT, 5 PBU
  • Robert Greco, DL: 29 TOT, 11 TFL, 3 Sacks
  • Ben Thomas, DB: 77 TOT, 3 TFL, 3 INT, 12 PBU
  • Isaiah Estes, LB: 85 TOT, 6.5 TFL
  • Michael Neisler, DL: 14 TOT, 6.5 TFL, 5 Sacks
  • Ben Miller, DL: 34 TOT, 4 TFL, 2 Sacks
  • Ulysses Ross, LB: 67 TOT, 13.5 TFL, 5.5 Sacks

Special Teams players to watch

  • Jaylen Jefferson, KR: 34 YPR, 2 TD


About Hillsdale

Best Defensive Performance:  Held a Tiffin team that averaged 33 points and 426 yards of offense per game to only 21 points and 341 yards.

Best Offensive Performance: Scored 31 points and gained 370 yards of total offense against a UIndy team that gave up on average 20 points per game and 309 yards of total offense.

Best Overall Performance: 34-29 victory over Findlay. Totaled 34 points and 480 yards of total offense against a defense that gave up 25 points and 399 yards on average. Held an Oiler offense that totaled 31 points and 430 yards of offense per game to only 29 points and 341 yards.


Offensive players to watch

  • Cole Johnson, OL: All GMAC
  • Jack McCarthy, OL: All GMAC
  • Isaac Teslaa, WR: 39 REC, 617 YD, 6 TD
  • Michael Harding, TE: 11 REC, 177 YD, 3 TD
  • Garrit Aissen, QB: 1099 YD, 13 TD

Defensive players to watch

  • Nate Chambers, DL: 57 TOT, 6.5 Sacks, 13.5 TFL, 1 FR, 2 PBU
  • Alex Anschutz, LB: 106 TOT, 4 TFL, 2 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FR
  • Zach Herzog, DB: 98 TOT, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FR
  • Kyle Parran, DL: 28 TOT, 4 Sacks, 5.5 TFL
  • Jackson Gillock, DB: 38 TOT, 5 INT, 2 PBU
  • Joe Schneider, 52 TOT, 4 INT, 9 PBU

Special Teams players to watch

  • Jack Shannon, P: 44.8 avg, 72 YD Long, 49 inside 20-yd line, 12 TB
  • Julian Lee, K: 7/8 FG, 29/29 PAT


At a glance, this matchup seems to be tilted in the Bulldogs’ favor by a healthy margin.  Ignoring the fact that Truman has already beaten Hillsdale convincingly earlier this season, we also have an 8-3 team who was one bad loss away from being in playoff contention at the end of the season vs. a 6-5 team who had to win their last two games to finish just above .500. Legendary coach Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are”, and he is absolutely correct. Hillsdale is a 6-5 football team. They are also a team with victories against Tiffin and Findlay, who both won eight games this year. They also defeated Ohio Dominican and Missouri S&T, both of whom finished with winning records. Additionally, they played both Michigan Tech and UIndy to within four points. Victories against those two would almost certainly have had them in playoff consideration at the end of the year. So, a more nuanced look at the Chargers reveals a dangerous team that is likely relishing a chance at redemption against the Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, Truman State must be thrilled with another chance to play in the postseason after a heartbreaking last second loss against rival UIndy seemed to end any hopes of extending their season. From a big picture perspective, Truman is probably happy with where they finished given the expectations of a third-place finish and how young the difference makers are on their team. But man did it seem like they had something special rolling early on. Even after their tough loss to Lindenwood, the Bulldogs bounced back right away with a convincing win over S&T and they seemed destined to go on another winning streak towards their end of season showdown with the Greyhounds.  But then they hit a purple speedbump in Bolivar, MO. The Bulldogs’ loss to SBU was without a doubt the biggest upset in the GLVC this year.

What the Chargers have proven they can do well is play defense. Specifically, they can get after the quarterback and force interceptions. They average just over two sacks per game and have picked off opponents 20 times this year. They are also stout on third down allowing opponents to convert only 30 percent of the time. Unfortunately for Hillsdale, their strengths to not match up well against the Bulldogs. Truman State will lean on Sophomore sensation Cody Schrader, who has been wearing defenses down all season to the tune of more that 1,800 yards rushing. The Bulldogs won’t find themselves in third and long often enough to let the Charger pass rush to have a significant impact on the game.

When the Chargers have the ball, I have a hard time seeing how they are going to move the ball on Truman’s number ones. In their last meeting, 180 of Hillsdale’s 213 yards came on the Charger’s last three possessions vs. Truman backups after the Bulldogs were up 38-3. It does seem like Hillsdale is a better overall team now than they were in week three, but the same can be said for the underclassmen heavy Truman defense.

I don’t expect this to be a boat race like it was in week three, but I do believe that Truman State is a better overall team. If Hillsdale can figure out a way to shut down Schrader, they have a shot at pulling out the win. However, the Chargers are giving up over 150 yards per game on the ground and considering Schrader has only been held under 100 yards rushing once this year, I expect the Bulldogs to win this one by a couple of scores.  


Hillsdale 18

Truman State 27