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Big Rapids, Mich. - After a historic run to the NCAA Division II National Semifinals last fall and preseason recognition as the nation's #2 squad entering the 2017 campaign, the Ferris State University football program has been selected to compete in two NCAA Division II National TV Showcase "Games of the Week" on ESPN3 this fall.
NCAA Division II today announced the 18 regular-season football games that will be streamed live on ESPN3 as part of a three-year agreement to highlight Division II athletics events. They will also be available on the ESPN app.
The Bulldogs' Sept. 23 road matchup at Ashland (7 p.m.) along with the Oct. 21 Anchor-Bone Classic home tilt versus archrival Grand Valley State (Oct. 21) were both among the 18 nationwide contests chosen by Division II and ESPN3.
"It's exciting to see our program receive increased nationwide exposure and reflects postively on what we've accomplished here at Ferris State," said FSU head coach Tony Annese. "The GLIAC continues to be one of the top Division II conferences in the country and the opportunity to showcase our program and our conference on this platform is outstanding."
This year will mark the third consecutive year in which the Bulldogs have participated in the Division II National Showcase. Two years ago, the Bulldogs' home tilt against Michigan Tech was part of the previous D2 national agreement with the American Sports Network while last year's home outing against Ashland was also featured by ASN.
The first 18 games of the football showcase are predetermined matchups. Four additional flex games — highlighting crucial matchups — will be finalized later in the football season and played in November.
"The collaboration with ESPN provides a continued opportunity to showcase Division II's balanced student-athlete experience," said Terri Steeb Gronau, vice president of Division II. "The student-athletes who will be featured in these games have made incredible achievements on and off the field, and we're excited to share their abilities with a broad national audience on ESPN3."
The scheduled games will feature 13 of the 15 football-sponsoring conferences in Division II and are selected from a pool of conference nominations. Two conferences have signed separate broadcast agreements and will not be included this season.
Ten teams in the 2017 package appeared in the Division II playoffs and nine finished the 2016 season ranked in the top 25 of the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll, including Ferris State. All 18 games currently scheduled are conference matchups.
"The quality of Division II football continues to rise," said Steve Mullins, incoming chair of the Division II Football Committee and director of athletics at Arkansas Tech. "We are proud to provide our fans and communities the opportunity to watch some of the most exciting teams across the nation."
ESPN3 is ESPN's live multiscreen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of exclusive sports events annually. It is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices through the ESPN app. The network is currently available nationwide at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. It is also available at no cost to U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.
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.
Ferris State Football Chosen For Two D2 National TV Showcase Games Of The Week On ESPN3
Click Here For Official NCAA D2 Release