GAME PREVIEW: Bulldogs Visit Two-Time FCS National Champion North Dakota State Today

GAME PREVIEW: Bulldogs Visit Two-Time FCS National Champion North Dakota State Today

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This Week:
Ferris State begins its 105th season of varsity football competition by facing North Dakota State on Saturday (Sept. 7) at Gate City Bank Field inside the Fargodome at Fargo, N.D. The Bison are the two-time defending Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Champions and the preseason number one team in the country.  Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. (ET) and the contest will be televised live by ESPN3.

The Opponent: The Bison are coming off an impressive 24-21 road upset at defending Big 12 Conference Champion Kansas State on Friday (Aug. 30) night.  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.

Head Coach Craig Bohl's team was ranked number one again this season 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. 

Series History: 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. The 1999 Bulldog team was the last to claim a conference championship.

Media Coverage: Saturday's game will be carried live locally by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM with Rob Bentley handling the play-by-play duties and Sandy Gholston offering color commentary.  The contest will also be streamed with free live audio online at  It will be televised live online by ESPN3. Links for all media coverage will be posted on FSU's official athletics website.

Follow On Twitter: In addition to radio and internet coverage, Bulldog fans can also follow Saturday's contest and all other FSU games this year with live scoring updates on several official social media platforms.  Visit to follow the tweet-by-tweet coverage with periodic scoring updates or visit

Season Openers: Ferris State will be participating in its 105th season opener since 1900 (no scores available in 1912 & 1916) and has compiled a 45-52-5 (.466 winning pct.) record.  The Bulldogs have won 15 of their last 24 season openers to date, which includes eight of their last 16 overall.  Ferris has won five of its last six season openers to date, including a win over St. Francis (Ill.) on the road a year ago.

The Records: Ferris State posted a 7-4 overall mark a season ago and was 6-4 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play in the first season under head coach Tony Annese.  The Bulldogs won three of their initial four games and also finished the year by winning three of their last four outings in 2012.

North Dakota State is currently 1-0 overall following a 24-21 road win over defending Big 12 Conference Champion Kansas State on Friday night (Aug. 30). 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 under head coach Craig Bohl.

The Coaches: Ferris State – Tony Annese (Alma, 1983), 2nd season, 7-4-0 (.636) – (0-0-0 vs. NDSU).  Annese recorded a 195-41 (.826) mark as a head coach in four stops at the high school level before totaling a 30-4 (.882) record in three years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College.  His overall career mark is 232-49 (.826) to date and includes three prep state championships and two national JUCO crowns.

North Dakota State – Craig Bohl (Nebraska, 1982), 11th season, 90-32 (.738) – (0-0-0 vs. Ferris State). Bohl guided NDSU to its second-straight FCS National Championship in 2012 while earning Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors for the second year in a row. Prior to NDSU, he spent 18 seasons on the D1 level as an assistant at five different schools, including Tulsa, Wisconsin, Rice, Duke and his alma mater, Nebraska.

Coming Up Next: Ferris opens Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play next week by hosting Lake Erie on Saturday, Sept. 14.  Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) under the lights at Top Taggart Field.  It will mark the Bulldogs' fourth overall matchup against the Storm.

Year Two Under Annese: A proven winner at all of his previous coaching stops and highly-regarded across the country, Tony Annese will direct the Bulldogs for the second time this fall. He came to FSU following three impressive years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College, which came on the heels of a highly successful 25-season stint at the prep level.  He owns an overall career head coaching record of 232-49 (.826) entering the 2013 campaign and was 30-4 (.882) as a junior college head coach at GRCC.

Bulldog Preview: Expectations are high at Ferris State in year two under head coach Tony 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 inked what is considered to be the nation's top incoming recruiting class this winter in Division II football, according to

GLIAC Preseason Poll: The Ferris State University football team was selected to finish third in the 2013 GLIAC Football Coaches Preseason North Division Poll, which was released Monday (Aug. 26) in conjunction with the launch of the GLIAC Football Media Day website. The Bulldogs received 69 points along with one first-place vote in the balloting, which was conducted by the conference's 15 head coaches. This year marks the third time the league's preseason gridiron poll has been seperated by divisions. In the North Division, Grand Valley State was picked first with 94 points and six first-place votes, Saginaw Valley State was second with 87 points and six first-place votes.  Ashland was chosen to win the GLIAC South.

AFCA Division II Poll: The Bulldogs are among eight teams from the conference ranked or listed as receiving votes in the 2013 American Football Coaches Association Preseason Division II Coaches' Poll. Ashland is ranked ninth, Grand Valley State 14th along with Saginaw Valley State University ranked 22nd in the nation. In addition, five other GLIAC teams were listed in the "Others Receiving Votes" category including Michigan Tech, Ferris State, Hillsdale, Ohio Dominican and Wayne State.

The 105th Season: The 2013 campaign represents the Bulldogs' 105th season of varsity competition.  The program actually began in 1900, but no football was played in 1908-09, 1917-18, 1932 and from 1942-45 for various reasons.  Additionally, no scores are available from either the 1912 or 1916 seasons.  Ferris has posted an all-time record of 385-433-40 (.470) to date heading into the 2013 campaign.

The Environment: 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. named the Fargodome among its top 50 greatest college stadiums in 2011.

Interesting Fact: 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).  Head coach Tony 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, Mich.

Travel Schedule: The Bulldogs are slated to leave Big Rapids early Friday afternoon and will practice in the Grand Rapids area before flying out on a charter plane from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport to Fargo during the late afternoon hours.  FSU will return to the Grand Rapids airport following the game on Saturday night with an overnight arrival to Big Rapids.  It marks the Bulldogs' lone plane trip of the 2013 regular season and the first in recent memory for FSU.

The Schedule: 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 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).

The Returnees: Among the returnees for the Bulldogs this campaign are five returning all-conference honorees in quarterback Jason Vander Laan, offensive linemen Carlin Landingham and Adam Bennett, defensive lineman Corey Stone along with wide receiver Jake Lampman.  They are among more than 40 letterwinners back from last season's roster.

Coaching Staff: The Bulldog staff this season will feature a new defensive coordinator in Lou Esposito, who joined FSU in the spring after serving as the defensive line coach at Western Michigan.  He is a former Division II head coach at St. Joseph's (Ind.).  The rest of the FSU staff returns basically intact from a year ago. Rob Zeitman, who was a head coach at Grand Rapids Northview High School before moving to Ferris State, is the assistant head coach and handles the offensive line. The other full-time assistants include former Bulldog players Ryan Hodges and Sparky McEwen along with ex-Grand Valley State quarterback Ryan Brady, who is FSU's offensive coordinator this fall. Meanwhile, Brad Corpe returns to coach the running backs with Andy Tevlin guiding the defensive line and former longtime prep head coaching legend Jack Schugars working with the special teams.

Former Head Coach: Former Ferris State quarterback Charles "Sparky" McEwen joined head coach Tony Annese's staff last year as an assistant coach and directs the wide receivers.  McEwen, who played for the Bulldogs from 1987-90, spent more than a decade as a professional football coach in the Arena Football League with both the Grand Rapids Ramapge and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz.  He currently ranks 14th among the school's all-time passing leaders with 2,183 career yards. His son, A.J. McEwen, is a defensive back for the Bulldogs.

Evening Football: Ferris State's first four contests of the 2013 season will be evening games.  Three of the outings are on  the road.  After the opening four-game stretch, the lone remaining evening game for the Bulldogs this campaign will be the Anchor-Bone Classic versus archrival Grand Valley State in Big Rapids on Oct. 12.

Welcome Back: The Bulldogs return 17 starters and more than 40 letterwinners from last season.

Under The Lights: Ferris is 43-55-4 (.441) in evening games (after 5 p.m. ET) going back to 1961. The Bulldogs are 15-29-2 (.348) on the road and 28-26-2 (.518) at home during that period.

Interesting Fact: North Dakota State is a former NCAA Division II school like the Bulldogs that moved up to the Division I FCS level over the past decade.

Training Camp Notes: Ferris' officially opened fall camp Tuesday, Aug. 13, as the squad reported to campus for the first time. The first official practice was held Thursday, Aug. 15. Ferris' three-week training camp period not only has featured practices and scrimmages, but also meetings, lifting, conditioning, testing and various orientation sessions. FSU's final preseason scrimmage was held last Friday (Aug. 30). Classes at Ferris State University began on Aug. 26.

Did You Know?: Ferris has had a winning season in 16 of its last 24 seasons overall.  The Bulldogs won five consecutive conference championship titles from 1992-96 and were league co-champions with Northwood in the 1999 season.

Starting Early: A total of seven newcomers to the Bulldog program are projected starters on this week's two-deep for Saturday's opener at North Dakota State.  Five are on the defensive side of the ball, including all three starting linebackers in transfers JP Grako, Terrell Porter and Marvin Robinson.  The other projected newcomers include safety Scott Patalano, defensive end Carlton Johnson along with wide receivers Damian Ross and Dewayne Boston.

School Record Rushing: Ferris State well-surpassed the previous school record of 2,538 rushing yards in a season last campaign. The Bulldogs rolled up 3,369 yards on the ground in 11 games a year ago. The previous school record was established in 1995 during FSU's run to the NCAA Division II Semifinals.

Indoor Games: Ferris sports a 6-7 record in enclosed dome facilities since 1995, including last year's 32-31 win at Northern Michigan.  FSU's previous back-to-back appearances at Northern Michigan's Superior Dome in 2009 and 2010 were its first games played indoors since a 42-24 league road triumph at NMU in 2006 (9/30).  FSU is 3-3 in its last six dome-type venues, including a 17-14 overtime win at NMU in 2004 (10/16) and a 44-7 setback to North Dakota in 2005 (10/8) at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D.

Non-League Games: Ferris is 11-8-0 (.579) in non-league games dating back to 1990 and has won eight of its last 11 outings, including a 35-24 road triumph over St. Francis (Ill.) last year (8/30/12).  Thirteen of Ferris State's last 17 non-conference games have been away from home.

Against North Dakota Schools: The Bulldogs' own a current 0-3 mark all-time against schools from the state of North Dakota.  FSU's lone meeting with NDSU was a 55-35 road setback in 1999 (9/2/99).  Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are also 0-2 in action against North Dakota as UND topped Ferris State 45-0 in Grand Forks in 2004 (10/9/04) and were 44-7 winners in 2005 (10/8/05) in North Dakota.

Offensive Statistics: Ferris State's 473.5 yards per game last season ranked as the second-highest seasonal figure in school history. The highest mark of 534.5 yards a contest came in 1999 ...... Ferris State had a school-record 289 first downs last season to top the previous single-season mark of 277 first downs set in 1995 ...... The Bulldogs' 5,209 total yards last season was the third-best mark in school seasonal history.

Conference Record: Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan set a new GLIAC single-season record for rushing yardage by a quarterback as a redshirt freshman during the 2012 campaign.  The rookie signal caller ran for 1,338 total yards last season with 1,235 coming in 10 league games to establish the record.  The league mark for most rushing yards by a QB in conference games ONLY has been 1,128 yards by Saginaw Valley State's Jeff Klopf in 1997.  Ironically, Klopf played prep football under FSU's Tony Annese prior to his collegiate career.  Vander Laan's totals were also the most ever by a FSU QB in a single-year and placed sixth on the school's seasonal rushing chart and he enters the 2013 season listed 17th on the school's career rushing chart.

Rookie Record: Bulldog QB Jason Vander Laan also set a new school record for most rushing yards in a single-season by any Bulldog freshman a year ago with 1,338 total yards on the ground.  Former tailback Derek Fudge owned the previous mark with 1,227 yards during the 2000 campaign.

Statistics Notes: Ferris State senior kicker Austin Kantola is 15th on FSU's all-time list with five made field goals ...... The Bulldogs' A.J. McEwen ranks 11th in school history with 167 career punt return yards .... FSU's Jason Vander Laan is 17th in total passing yardage and 15th in total offense among the Bulldogs' all-time career leaders .... Jake Lampman's 717 receiving yards a year ago was 18th-best all-time in a season at FSU. 

Preseason Honors: Junior receiver Jake Lampman and senior tackle Carlin Landingham were both chosen to the 2013 Detroit Free Press Michigan All-Small College Preseason First Team ..... Several Bulldog players are also ranked among the nation's best at their respective positions heading into 2013 according to the Preseason Position Rankings compiled by the online source - Jason Vander Laan is listed 16th at quarterback, Jake Lampman is 57th at receiver, Carlin Landingham is 30th at offensive tackle, Adam Bennett was 18th at center (moving to guard this year), Corey Stone is 22nd at defensive tackle and Marvin Robinson came in 35th at safety.  All were also chosen as preseason All-GLIAC picks by

Key Roster Note: The Bulldogs have four players currently listed on their roster who attended Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla., which has been the nation's number one ranked high school team for several weeks over the last two seasons. The group includes sophomore slot Antonio Agurs along with three true freshmen in receiver Jajuan Pollock, defensive lineman Marquis Dawsey and defensive back Willie Smith.

About Ferris State: Ferris State University is the fastest-growing institution in Michigan with 14,560 students enrolled and is a recognized leader in preparing students for professional careers in 180 degree programs such as Pharmacy, Optometry and more. The university has a rich 127-year history and more than 120,000 living alums. FSU is located in Big Rapids, Mich., which is approximately an hour's drive north of Grand Rapids.  Ferris State has 17 varsity sports, including NCAA Division I men's ice hockey, which recently reached the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012.  Notable alums in athletics include NHL First-Team All-Star Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins and current University of Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones, who received his coaching start at Ferris State.

Sunny 97.3: Saturday's game continues the broadcast partnership between FSU Athletics and Sunny 97.3 FM.  Rob Bentley and Sandy Gholston will call the action starting with the "Bulldog Pregame" show at 4:30 p.m.  Sunny 97.3 and the Bulldog Sports Network will again carry all home and away football contests this campaign with the broadcasts streamed live online at

Bulldog Sports Network: Fans can follow all the action of Ferris State football live online via the Bulldog Sports Network multimedia portal again this season.  A live audio and video pay-per-view webcast will be offered for all home games with free audio for all road contests.  The package also includes live stats, live chat and a live blog at select times. Visit for more info.

Home Ticket Information: Season and single-game tickets for the 2013 home campaign are currently on sale now.  Fans are encouraged to buy tickets in advance this season for a discount over the normal gameday rates.  For more info on ticket sales, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or

Bulldog Gameday: Complete information on every Bulldog home and road contest this year can be found by visiting the Bulldog Gameday page on the FSU Athletics Website at (click on football and then Gameday).  The Gameday information, which will be updated several days prior to each game, includes links to all pertinent notes and statistics for both teams as well as links for the respective broadcast and internet media coverage available for the contest.

Yearbook Available Online: The 2013 Ferris State University Football Yearbook is available to view as an online publication. The publication features such information as 2013 player rosters, season outlook, player biographies, coaching staff information, 2012 season statistics, career and season statistical records, series records, game records, etc.  Visit the FSU athletics website at to find the publication online.

More Radio Coverage: Ferris State Football will be featured throughout the year as part of the "Bulldog Sports Update", which will air Monday thru Friday at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Sunny 97.3 FM.  Additionally, the football team will also be featured at various times on "Ferris State Friday's", which can be heard at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Grand Rapids' WBBL as part of "The Rundown with Doctor & Bentley".  The host is hosted by Tim Doctor and former NFL linebacker Ray Bentley.  His son, Jake Bentley, is a member of the Bulldog football team.