Big Rapids, Mich. - Reigning NCAA Division II National Semifinalist Ferris State, which is the nation's preseason #2 team in the country, has unveiled its 2017 fall schedule and kickoff times along with future non-conference opponents in an announcement made by FSU head coach Tony Annese.
This fall, the Bulldogs are currently slated to play five Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) home contests at FSU's Top Taggart Field along with five road contests. FSU is currently still working to fill its week one open date (Aug. 31-Sept. 2).
Along with this year's nine-game GLIAC slate, the Bulldogs will begin a two-year, home-and-home scheduling agreement with former league foe Findlay. FSU visits Findlay on Sept. 9 for a non-conference showdown this fall before the Oilers pay a return visit to Big Rapids in 2018 (Sept. 8).
In addition to the series with the Oilers, the Bulldogs have also announced a home contest to kickoff the 2018 campaign versus East Stroudsburg (Pa.) on Aug. 30, 2018, at Top Taggart Field, giving FSU a pair of non-league home contests to open next year's campaign.
"It's exciting to be able to add two quality programs like Findlay and East Stroudsburg to our schedule over the next two seasons," said Annese. "As in years past, we expect the GLIAC to continue to be one of the top conferences in the country and these types of non-league games will prepare us well for conference action.
"There's no doubt the schedule ahead this fall will be a challenge as we'll have a target on our backs after last year's historic season. It should make it extremely entertaining for our fans and we look forward to having the Bulldog Nation behind us again," he said.
This fall, following the visit to Findlay, Ferris State hosts Northern Michigan to open GLIAC play on Sept. 16 with kickoff under the lights set for 7 p.m. (ET). It will mark FSU's Hall of Fame Game with the Bulldogs recognizing this fall's class of seven inductees along with the first team to be inducted in school history in Ferris State's unbeaten 1968 gridiron squad. The Wildcats will be guided by first-year head coach Kyle Nystrom, who served on the FSU staff the last two years.
The Bulldogs will venture back to Ohio following the matchup against NMU to face Ashland in league play on Sept. 23. The Eagles narrowly missed the Division II Playoffs last year and are the preseason #20 team in the country according to Lindy's College Sports Magazine.
Ferris State's annual Homecoming Game is set for Saturday, Sept. 30, versus in-state rival Wayne State starting at 3 p.m. (ET). The contest opens a two-game homestand with FSU also hosting Tiffin in GLIAC play for the final time on Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. (ET).
After the back-to-back home games, the Bulldogs head to Saginaw Valley State on Oct. 14 for an afternoon matchup against the Cardinals before returning home to host archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic on Oct. 21 in Big Rapids. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (ET) as the two West Michigan rivals clash for the fifth time in the last three years on the heels of back-to-back playoff tilts the last two seasons. GVSU is ranked third nationally heading into the year.
Ferris State remains at home for its final regular-season home contest on Oct. 28 as FSU entertains Northwood for a 1 p.m. (ET) league affair. Last year, the Bulldogs narrowly beat NU with a touchdown throw on the game's final play to escape in Midland and break a school record with the squad's 28th consecutive regular-season victory.
The Bulldogs then close the regular-season with back-to-back road games on Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 at Davenport and Michigan Tech, respectively. The tilt versus DU in Grand Rapids will be the first between the two West Michigan schools as the Panthers join the GLIAC this fall, guided by Ferris State alum and former assistant coach Sparky McEwen.
Following the regular season, playoff action begins this fall on Nov. 18 with second-round action on Nov. 25 and the Super Region Championship Game on Dec. 2. FSU, which won Super Region Four last fall, moves to Super Region Three this year, which also includes defending national champion and preseason #1 Northwest Missouri State. The D2 semifinals are on Dec. 9 with the national championship game returning to Kansas City on Dec. 16.
The Bulldogs will begin their 109th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on making a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
Ferris State is coming off another historic campaign as the Bulldogs posted a 12-3 overall record in 2016 while advancing to the NCAA Division II National Semifinals for only the second time in school history. In 2016, the Bulldogs also posted a school-record tying 12 victories. Ferris State received the program's third-straight NCAA Football Playoff berth and captured the Super Region Four Championship by beating archrival Grand Valley State during a memorable postseason run. The 15-week campaign, which included three postseason playoff wins, was the school's longest in 108 years of Bulldog Football.
Over the last three seasons at Ferris State, the Bulldogs have compiled a 34-5 overall record and claimed two conference championships, posted two unbeaten regular-seasons, captured a regional title and reached the national semifinals. Ferris State has also accumulated two Harlon Hill National Player of the Year trophies, twice had a student-athlete tabbed as the nation's National Scholar-Athlete of the Year and won four postseason games.
In the five seasons under Annese, the Bulldogs have become a national power on the Division II level. FSU has posted a 49-12 overall mark in the last five years and the Bulldogs have also posted the best winning percentage of all 21 collegiate programs in the state of Michigan along with the GLIAC since his arrival.
Overall, Annese has won 83% of his games as a head coach on the collegiate and prep levels and owns 274 wins to date, which is the most of any current GLIAC member head coach at all levels.
Ferris State will return nearly 60 letterwinners for the 2017 campaign, including nearly 18 starters.