The Ferris State University football team has been listed among the region's "Teams To Watch" in the 2009 Sporting News College Football Yearbook, which recently hit newsstands nationwide and features coverage along with rankings from all NCAA football divisions.
The annual college football publication includes a four-page section on Division II football and featured both a preseason top 25 poll and a preseason All-America listing. Two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) programs were ranked in the poll, including preseason number one Grand Valley State and returning NCAA-II playoff qualifier Ashland (#14).
In addition to the top 25 listing, the magazine included a section of "others to watch" this season divided by region. The magazine's Midwest Region, which encompasses teams found in football Super Region Three last season, had six teams ranked in the preseason poll and also featured seven additional teams to watch including three schools from the GLIAC in Wayne State, Michigan Tech along with FSU.
Besides GVSU and Ashland, the other teams from the region ranked in the top 25 included defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth (#3), Chadron State (#17), Minnesota State-Mankato (#18) and Nebraska-Kearney (#20). The teams to watch in the region included Wayne State (Neb.), Missouri S&T, Wayne State (Mich.), Nebraska-Omaha, Winona State (Minn.), MTU and Ferris.
In its notes on Ferris, the publication noted that the Bulldogs "must replace defensive tackle Jake Visser, a Harlon Hill Trophy candidate, along with six other defensive starters." The Bulldogs are expected to return more than 40 letterwinners for the 2008 campaign, including 12 starters with eight on the offensive side of the ball and four coming back defensively.
Ferris State will kickoff its 101st season of varsity competition Saturday, Aug. 29, against the Tiffin (Ohio) Dragons in a 7 p.m. (EDT) non-conference contest at Top Taggart Field. The game will take place during FSU "Welcome Week" activities and be part of a true "Community Football Day" atmosphere as Big Rapids High School will also open its 2009 season versus Holton earlier in the day in the same facility and a rocket football contest will be part of the FSU halftime events.
The Bulldogs, who will play an 11-game regular-season schedule, open GLIAC action the following Saturday, Sept. 5, at home versus the Ashland Eagles with kickoff also set for 7 p.m. (EDT). The game will be part of the area's annual Riverdays Festival with the traditional Fireworks Night festivities taking place following the contest.
A highlight of the Bulldogs' 2009 campaign will come on Saturday, Oct. 3, when FSU takes on Michigan Tech in the "Battle At The Ballpark", which will be played on the home field of Minor League Baseball's West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Mich., starting at 7 p.m. (EDT).
Ferris State registered its fifth winning season in the last six years with a 6-5 overall record in 2008. It represented the program's ninth winning campaign in 14 years under head coach Jeff Pierce and marked the 14th time in the last 20 years the Bulldogs have finished above .500 for the year. FSU was an even 5-5 in GLIAC action during the '08 campaign, which represented the program's 100th season of varsity competition.