Big Rapids, Mich. – A special "Friday Night Lights" contest will kickoff the 2011 Ferris State University football campaign as the Bulldogs unveiled their fall schedule today (March 29) in an announcement made by FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger.
The Bulldogs will embark on their 103rd season of varsity competition this fall and the 11-game schedule features three night games during the opening month of the season on the Mondo Ecofill artificial-playing surface at Top Taggart Field.
Ferris State will open the year at home over Labor Day weekend on Friday, Sept. 2, against fellow Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) counterpart Hillsdale in a non-league matchup under the lights at 7:30 p.m. (ET). The two teams will play a non-league game against each other for the second-straight year as they were not scheduled to play in GLIAC competition as part of the conference's scheduling process.
"It will be a big challenge right out of the gate for us, but we're hoping for a big crowd for this special Friday night contest," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce. "Traditionally, Hillsdale has been a longtime opponent for us and it's important we have the opportunity to continue this series. They've been one of the league's top teams in recent years so it will be a tremendous test."
The Chargers are guided by former Ferris State head coach Keith Otterbein and the matchup between the two West Michigan opponents will not only help kickoff the season, but also the annual Labor Day activities and Riverdays Festival in the Big Rapids area. Tailgating for the memorable Friday night matchup will begin at 5 p.m. (ET).
"We're excited to kickoff the 2011 season at home on a Friday night," said FSU Gridiron Club President Bill Scheible. "It will be a fun way to start an enjoyable weekend in Big Rapids and we're hoping our fans make it a destination for their holiday while cheering on the Bulldogs to victory."
FSU's regular-season home schedule also features matchups against the league's two newest schools as both Ohio Dominican and Lake Erie will visit Top Taggart Field for the first-time ever on Saturday, Sept. 17, and Saturday, Oct. 1, respectively. Both are also night games under the lights with 7 p.m. (ET) kickoffs scheduled.
In all, the Bulldogs will play six home contests this fall with the final three all being Saturday afternoon games starting at 2 p.m. (ET) against Northern Michigan (Oct. 15), Indianapolis (Oct. 29) and the regular-season finale versus Northwood (Nov. 12).
The matchup against Northern Michigan will serve as FSU's 85th annual Homecoming contest while the outing versus Indianapolis will mark the final league game between the two schools as the Greyhounds depart for the newly-created football division in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) at the conclusion of the 2011 season. Senior Day activities will take place prior to the Northwood contest.
"In our conference, you always have to be at the top of your game every Saturday to have a chance to win and I don't expect that to be any different this year," said Pierce. "The schedule is as challenging as ever, but I'm confident our guys will be prepared for what's ahead of them."
The Bulldogs' 2011 schedule once again features alternating home and away games throughout the year as FSU will not play consecutive contests either at home or on the road at any point during the campaign.
Ferris State's first road contest and initial GLIAC game is on Saturday, Sept. 10, as the Bulldogs travel to Saginaw Valley State for the first-ever night game at SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. (ET). FSU's first three games and four of their first five overall during the 2011 campaign will be evening contests.
FSU's second road contest of the season will be on Sept. 24 as the Bulldogs venture to Tiffin for only the second-time ever followed by an away tilt at Findlay on Oct. 8.
Ferris State will also visit Grand Valley State for the Anchor-Bone Classic on Oct. 22 at GVSU's Lubbers Stadium in Allendale. The league matchup will represent the 40th meeting in the all-time series between the two West Michigan archrivals with the game's winner being presented with the ninth annual Anchor Bone Trophy.
The final road contest of the year comes on Nov. 5 when the Bulldogs make the long trip north to Houghton to battle Michigan Tech.
As part of the GLIAC's schedule, the Bulldogs are not slated to face Ashland, Wayne State and Hillsdale in league competition again this fall. This year's season opener versus Hillsdale will represent the sixth consecutive year the Bulldogs have played a fellow conference school in a non-conference contest to start the campaign.
Additional information on individual game and season ticket sales for the 2011 campaign will be announced in the near future. All starting times and dates are subject to change.
Below is the complete 2011 schedule:
Friday, Sept. 2 – vs. Hillsdale, 7:30 p.m. (Season Opener)
Saturday, Sept. 10 – at Saginaw Valley State*, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 17 – vs. Ohio Dominican*, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 24 – at Tiffin*, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1 – vs. Lake Erie*, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 8 – at Findlay*, 12 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 15 – vs. Northern Michigan*, 2 p.m. (Homecoming)
Saturday, Oct. 22 – at Grand Valley State*, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 29 – vs. Indianapolis*, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5 – at Michigan Tech*, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12 – vs. Northwood*, 2 p.m. (Senior Day)
Note: Home games in Bold and played at Top Taggart Field
* Denotes GLIAC game