Official NDSU Release
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football program will kick off the 2013 campaign with an opportunity to make a big impression on the national stage as the Bulldogs today (June 19) officially inked a contract to play two-time defending NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Champion North Dakota State.
Ferris State will begin its 105th season of varsity competition by facing the preseason number one FCS team in the country on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Gate City Bank Field inside the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. No official game time has yet been set.
A year ago, in 2012, North Dakota State won its second-straight NCAA Division I FCS Championship with a 39-13 win over Sam Houston State and also claimed the program's second Missouri Valley Football Conference title while finishing with a 14-1 overall record.
"We're excited about the opportunity and it certainly is a daunting task", said FSU head coach Tony Annese, who will embark on his second season at the Bulldog helm this fall. "It's a great opportunity for our program.
"We searched hard to provide our kids with an 11th game as a reward for all the hard work they've put in and this will be a big challenge. Some of our guys have probably never been on an airplane before so taking a Charter flight to Fargo will be special as well," he added.
The game will represent North Dakota State's first home contest of the 2013 season and come on the heels of the Bison's season opener at Big 12 Conference member Kansas State on August 30.
"When you think about the quality of opponent and who they're playing the week before, it makes it a tremendous opportunity," Annese said. "We're expecting our guys to go out there, perform well and compete in a tough environment."
The Bulldogs will face NDSU for the second time in school history. Previously, the Bison outlasted FSU 55-35 in the 1999 season opener inside the Fargodome. Head Coach Craig Bohl's team was recently ranked number one again in the Lindy's Sports Annual FCS Preseason Top 25 rankings and return nine of 10 players who earned All-Missouri Valley Football first or second team recognition a year ago.
Besides facing one of the nation's top collegiate football programs, the Bulldogs will also take the field in front of one of college football's most passionate fan bases. More than 100,000 fans a year pass through the Fargodome to watch the Bison, ranking North Dakota State in the top 10 nationally for attendance in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Known as one of the loudest environments to play in college football, the Fargodome crowd routinely goes over 100 decibels. NDSU's home since 1993 has become of the most difficult places in the country for opponents to play and can pack in 19,000 fans for football games. BleacherReport.com named the Fargodome among its top 50 greatest college stadiums in 2011.
"It will be a huge test for our program to kick off what we hope is a championship season at Ferris State," said Annese. "In addition to facing one of the nation's premier programs, we'll also be taking the field in one of the most unbelievable atmospheres in college football."
The week one test will kickoff an 11-game Bulldog football slate in 2013 that features five home contests at Top Taggart Field and a 10-game Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) schedule. FSU will play its home opener the following week on Sept. 14 as the Bulldogs open league action at home against Lake Erie starting at 7 p.m. (ET).
Expectations are high at Ferris State in year two under Annese. The Bulldogs posted a 7-4 overall mark in his debut season last fall (2012) and FSU ranked among the nation's top 10 teams in both rushing offense and total offense.
The Bulldogs recorded several impressive wins under Annese's direction a year ago, including beating archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic for the first time since 1999, snapping a 10-year losing streak to Michigan Tech and topping defending national runner-up Wayne State for the first time in five years. FSU also managed to win seven games for only the second time in the past decade despite facing one of the nation's two toughest schedules in Division II football during the regular-season, according to the Massey Ratings.
Ironically, the Bulldogs' most recent contest also took place in a domed venue as the Bulldogs concluded the 2012 campaign in memorable fashion by beating Northern Michigan 32-31 last fall (Nov. 10) as Annese's squad went for the win and successfully completed a two-point conversion with nine seconds remaining in regulation rather than electing to kick an extra point to force overtime at the Superior Dome in Marquette.
Besides putting together an impressive debut season with the Bulldogs, Annese and his staff also recently inked what is considered to be the nation's top incoming recruiting class in Division II football, according to FootballScoop.com.