BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The next chapter of one of the greatest rivalries in football will be written at Ferris State University’s Top Taggart Field.

“I don’t want to disrespect other teams, but it’s interesting that maybe the two top teams in the nation are an hour apart,” Grand Valley State University head coach Matt Mitchell said.

If history is written by the victors, GVSU wrote plenty in the 1900s and 2000s. After snapping Ferris State’s 42-regular season game winning streak in 1996, then-head coach Brian Kelly helped make the rivalry a bit one-sided.

“Our guys know it’s Ferris State, they know it’s a great rivalry. I don’t think their coach needs to remind them,” Kelly told WOOD TV8 ahead of their game against Ferris State in 2003.

The Lakers won 13 times in 14 years, including nine games after the Anchor-Bone Trophy was introduced and a few national titles, as well. It seemed like the trophy would make a permanent residence in Allendale until the Bulldogs hired a new coach who wasn’t afraid to go after the conference giant.

“I guess I can go to 2012 where we surprised them because they were very good and we were not very good,” Tony Annese recalled.

Annese led Ferris State to four straight victories from 2012 to 2016. From that point on, according to both coaches, it’s been a wild ride.

“In ‘16, they were a powerhouse. We split that year. In ‘17, we had a crazy game. In ‘18, we had a crazy game. In ‘19, we had a crazy game. In ‘21, we won the regular season and had a crazy game. It’s the same old story,” Annese said.

The tables have tuned for the Lakers. They are now looking to break Ferris State’s longest winning streak in rivalry history. To do that, they cannot look too far in the past.

“Our philosophy is when things happen, we reflect on them and we reflect on those games. We learn a lot and grow from our failures, we try to apply our knowledge better as we move forward,” Mitchell said. “There was plenty of reflection in the past few weeks, we’re moving on.”

“It’s always an intense game. This is why you play. This is why you come to Grand Valley and this is why they go to Ferris,” GVSU quarterback Cade Peterson said.

Ferris State doesn’t want to move on. It wants the Anchor-Bone Trophy to stay.

Only one team will get its way, winning the battle in the decadeslong war between schools.

“Same old story: This is a battle. And if you don’t understand that this is a battle, you don’t understand football,” Annese said.

GVSU and Ferris State will battle for the trophy Saturday in Big Rapids.