PREVIEW: #2 Bulldogs Host Northern Michigan Saturday Night In Home Opener

Home Crowd
Ferris State vs. Northern Michigan
Saturday, Sept. 16 - 7 p.m. (ET)
Video:  Bulldog Sports Network (FSU TV)
Radio:  97.3 FM WDEE
Stats:  Click Here
Tickets:  Info | (231) 591-2888
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Game Notes (PDF)
Gameday Information
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This Week's Action
The Ferris State University football squad hosts the Northern Michigan Wildcats in its 2017 home opener on Saturday (Sept. 16) night under the lights at Top Taggart Field with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (ET) in Big Rapids. The Bulldogs are coming off a decisive 48-27 non-league road win at Findlay last Saturda (Sept. 9) night.

Hall Of Fame Game
During Saturday night's contest, Ferris State will honor a prestigious group of seven individuals who will be inducted on Friday night into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017, including: Kathryn Bobbie (Women's Golf, 1999-03), Steve Fountain (Men's Track & Cross Country, 1974-79), Jody "Gifford" Markwart (Softball, 1996-99), Kathy O'Connor (Women's Volleyball & Basketball, 1990-93), Chris Pulliams (Football, 1993-96), Scott Schultz (Men's & Women's Tennis Coach & Administrator, 1982-89) and Monta Ware (Women's Basketball, 1979-83). In addition, the school's first-ever unbeaten football team from 1968, which was guided by head coach Bob Leach, also will become the first-ever team to earn induction into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame.
 
Preseason Top Five Team
Ferris State was a consensus top five team nationally in every preseason Division II national poll, including as high as #1 by College Football America. FSU was also picked second by D2Football.com, Lindy's College Football Preview, the Massey Ratings and CompughterRatings.com. The Bulldogs were third in the AFCA Coaches poll and fifth by Street & Smith's.
 
Media Coverage
Saturday's game will be carried live on flagship station Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network with Rob Bentley and Sandy Gholston calling the play-by-play action. Pregame coverage gets underway on Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m. (ET) and is accessible online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. A live pay-per-view video stream will also be offered. For a full listing of links, including live internet stats, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
 
National Semifinal Run
Ferris State is coming off a 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. 

Memorable Bulldog Run
Over the last three plus seasons at Ferris State, the Bulldogs have compiled a 35-5 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.
 
National Power & State's Best
In the five plus seasons under head coach Tony Annese, the Bulldogs have become a national power on the Division II level. FSU has posted a 50-12 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 275 wins to date, which is the most of any current GLIAC member head coach at all levels.
 
Michigan's Best Team
Ferris State was recently chosen by Hero Sports as the state of Michigan's best college football team, regardless of division, late this summer. Hero Sports unveiled its top team from every state, regardless of division, on Tuesday and the Bulldogs were chosen tops among the 21 collegiate programs in Michigan. The award is the result of an equation created to level the playing field across all divisions of college football using specialized criteria.
 
National Title Favorite
Hero Sports also picked the Bulldogs as the preseason favorite to capture the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championship. The online site picked the favorite in each region along with the national title game and projected the Bulldogs to claim their first national crown this fall.
 
The 109th Season
The 2017 campaign represents the Bulldogs' 109th 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 428-441-40 to date.
 
The Records
The Bulldogs are off to a 1-0 start following last week's 48-27 league road win at Findlay. Meanwhile, the Wildcats, who are guided by first-year head coach and former FSU assistant Kyle Nystrom, are 0-1 overall after a 48-20 setback at Angelo State (Texas) last Saturday (Sept. 9) evening. 
 
Home Opener
The Bulldogs will play their first home game of the year versus Northern Michigan on Saturday evening. It will mark FSU's Hall of Fame Game with a class of seven inductees and the 1968 unbeaten football squad honored at halftime. The game is the first of five at home for FSU this year. Fans can call 231-591-2888 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com for ticket information.
 
Scouting The Wildcats
Ferris State welcomes back tonight new Northern Michigan head coach Kyle Nystrom, who spent the last two years on the Bulldog staff and was part of last year's staff that led FSU to the national semifinals. The Wildcats went 3-8 overall and year ago and were 3-7 in the GLIAC. Ferris State has won the last six games in the series' and the Bulldogs own a 22-15-6 all-time mark against the Wildcats.
 
GLIAC Player Of The Week 
Ferris State senior quarterback Reggie Bell was tabbed as this week's GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week following his standout performance in the Bulldogs' season opener. Bell had a huge showing in the #2 Bulldogs' 48-27 road win over Findlay as he ran for a FSU career-best 216 yards and four touchdowns on the ground while also completing 14-of-21 (66.7%) passes for 206 yards and a score in the triumph. Overall, Bell engineered seven FSU scoring drives in the contest.
 
Week One Victory Notes
The Bulldogs rolled up 653 total offensive yards in last week's win over Findlay, including 413 on the ground ... With the win, FSU improved to 9-0 in games played in the state of Ohio under head coach Tony Annese.
 
The Head Coaches
Ferris State – Tony Annese (Alma, 1983), 6th season, 50-12-0 (.803) – (5-0 vs. NMU).  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 at all levels is 275-57 (.828) to date and includes three prep state championships and two national JUCO crowns. He won his 50th game at FSU last week versus Findlay and it was also his 275th win at all levels overall. 
 
Northern Michigan - Kyle Nystrom (Michigan State, 1988), 1st season - (0-1 overall). Nystrom brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to the NMU post and served as an assistant coach in 2015 and 2016 at Ferris State while helping lead FSU to the national semifinals a year ago. He grew up around the NMU program while his father, Buck, served as a Wildcat assistant coach.
 
Current #2 National Ranking
Ferris State remains a consensus #2 in the country in every Division II regular-season poll this week, including the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and D2Football.com in addition to the Massey Online Computer Rankings along with the CompughterRatings.com poll. Defending national champion Northwest Missouri State, which beat the Bulldogs in last year's national semifinals, is the top-ranked team in the country.
 
NFL Quartet
The Bulldogs had four former players in National Football League (NFL) Training Camps this summer. Former two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winning quarterback Jason Vander Laan was with the New York Jets as a tight end while defensive tackle Justin Zimmer and wideout Jake Lampman took part in the New Orleans Saints' camp. All three signed as undrafted free agents shortly after the 2016 NFL Draft. In addition, one of last year's starting linebackers, Brady Sheldon, spent training camp with the Oakland Raiders this summer. Vander Laan made the Jets' active 53-man roster at the close of camp prior to being waived.
 
Division II Games Of The Week
The Bulldogs were selected to play twice in the Division II Game Of The Week this fall as both the Bulldogs' league road tilt at Ashland (Sept. 23) and home game versus rival Grand Valley State (Oct. 21) were chosen for national telecasts live on ESPN3.
 
GLIAC Preseason Poll
The Bulldogs were picked to finish second in the 2017 GLIAC Coaches Preseason Poll behind rival Grand Valley State. Ashland came in third in a vote of the league's member head coaches.
 
Under The Lights
Ferris is 54-57-4 (.474) in evening games (after 5 p.m. ET) going back to 1961, but is 33-26-2 (.550) at home.

NCAA Playoff Berth
Last year marked Ferris State's eighth all-time NCAA Division II Playoff appearance and the school's third in a row after previously not making the field since 1996 prior to the 2014 season. Overall, FSU has now compiled a 9-8 all-time playoff record. Last year marked the Bulldogs' second-ever trip to the national semifinals and matched the 1995 squad, which fell on the road at North Alabama, for the highest finish in school history. Along with making the playoffs in both 2014 and 2015, the Bulldogs also captured back-to-back GLIAC Championships. Before those two years, FSU had not won a league title since 1999. The 2014 outright title was the school's first since 1996. Overall, 2015 represented the ninth conference title in Bulldog football history.
 
Quarterfinal Road Win
Last year's national playoff quarterfinal game against Grand Valley State represented only the second-ever postseason matchup between the two longtime West Michigan rivals, but it was also the second year in a row as FSU avenged a 38-34 victory in round two in 2015 at home. The victory over the Lakers last year also gave the Bulldogs their first-ever postseason road win as Ferris State had been 0-3 on the road in the playoffs all-time.
 
Deepest Postseason Run
Ferris State had its deepest NCAA Playoff run in 21 years last season since reaching the NCAA Division II National Semifinals in 1995, which represented the highest finish in school history prior to last year. The Bulldogs also made the postseason in 1996 along with 2014 and 2015, but did not make it past the second round. Last year's national semifinal at Northwest Missouri State also marked the latest game ever played in school history. The only other game played by FSU in the final month of the year prior to last year took place on Dec. 2,1995, when FSU fell 45-7 in the national semfinals on the road at North Alabama.
 
Huge Playoff Win
Ferris State pulled out one of the biggest wins in school history last year as FSU recorded its first-ever NCAA playoff road victory with a thrilling 47-32 triumph over archrival Grand Valley State in the Super Region Four Championship Game at Lubbers Stadium in Allendale. With the victory, Ferris State tied a school-record by claiming its 12th win of the year to advance to the national semifinals. The Bulldogs avenged a 2015 second-round playoff loss to the Lakers by winning their eighth consecutive game of the season. The most recent FSU setback had been a 35-23 decision at the hands of the Lakers on Oct. 8 in Allendale. Quarterback Trevor Bermingham scored four second-half touchdowns in the win for the Bulldogs before a crowd of more than 12,000 fans in West Michigan.
 
Big Win Season
Last year marked only the fifth time in school history in which the Bulldogs had won at least 11 games in a campaign, but also the third year in a row. FSU matched the school-record of 12 wins set in 1995 (12-1) and the Bulldogs also notched 11 wins in 1994 (11-1), 2014 (11-1) and 2015 (11-1). The past three seasons, 2014-16, represents the first time in which the Bulldogs have notched at least 11 wins three years in a row. 
 
Harlon Hill Trophy Nominee
Curent Bulldog senior quarterback Reggie Bell was one of the 42 candidates for the 2016 Harlon Hill Trophy presented to Division's II top player in the country. Overall, a total of 42 student-athletes from across the nation were nominated for the 2016 Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year. The list of candidates was announced by the National Harlon Hill Award Committee. The standout was one of 11 nominees for the prestigious award from Super Region Four and among five from the GLIAC up for the honor last season.
 
Strong Finish
FSU wrapped up the regular-season in 2016 with five-straight wins. Ferris State has now won at least two of its final three games of a year 19 times in the last 27 seasons dating back to 1990, including seven of the last 11 years to date. The Bulldogs have won 55% (44-36) of their final three games of a campaign since 1990, but the figure jumps to 64% (51-29) counting regular-season games only and not playoff action. 
 
Returning All-GLIAC Honorees
FSU returns eight All-GLIAC selections from a year ago, including three first-team picks in Zach Sieler, Tavierre Thomas and Devon Johnson. In addition, Jahaan Brown, Jake Daugherty, Jajuan Pollock, Nick Huckabay & Reggie Bell also all claimed league laurels last fall and are back in 2017.
 
Nine League Wins
FSU recorded nine GLIAC wins last season, which represented the third-straight year the Bulldogs had accomplished the feat. FSU has won at least eight league games each of the past four years. Ferris State had posted seven wins in GLIAC play only four times in 17 years dating back to the 1990's prior to the past four seasons. FSU posted back-to-back 10-0 marks in 2014 and 2015. Prior to the recent stretch, Ferris State had not claimed eight league victories since winning nine conference games en route to the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference title in 1996.
 
Fred Mitchell Award List
Bulldog senior kicker Wyatt Ford was chosen as one of 10 national finalists for the 2016 Fred Mitchell Award presented to the nation's most outstanding kicker and is also on this season's initial watch list for the honor. The announcement was made by the Fred Mitchell Award Committee and the award is presented to the top placekicker on the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA level who excels on and off the football field. This year's award recipient will be named in December. Ford, who was named to the Fred Mitchell Award Watch List Of Excellence for his performance in both September and October last season, was among only three Division II kickers on the list of 10 national finalists a year ago and the only placekicker from a GLIAC or Michigan-based school.
 
Among Best In Country
Since the start of the 2013 season, the Bulldogs are close behind defending national champion Northwest Missouri State for the fewest losses of any NCAA Division II team in the country. The Bearcats have only a pair of losses in the past three seasons. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have recorded back-to-back 11-1 seasons along with a 12-3 mark last year. Ferris State also holds the GLIAC's best mark and the best overall record of all 21 collegiate programs in Michigan at 50-12 overall since the arrival of head coach Tony Annese in 2012.
 
Long Win Streak 
With a week three victory last season at Northwood, Ferris State set a school record with its 28th-straight regular season win dating back to the 2013 season before it was snapped against Ashland the following week. FSU previously won 27 consecutive regular-season outings in a row from Oct. 23, 1993 to Sept. 14, 1996. The Bulldogs' 28-game regular season win streak was the longest in the country prior to being snapped by AU a year ago.
 
Nation's Top Rushing QB
Last year marked the fifth consecutive year a Ferris State quarterback had been the nation's top rushing quarterback in Division II during regular-season action as Reggie Bell's 1,081 yards on the ground in the regular-season were the most of any signal caller in the country. Previously, two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winning QB Jason Vander Laan led all quarterbacks in rushing in D2 football each of his four years.
 
Preseason All-Americans
A total of five different FSU players were tabbed as Preseason All-Americans heading into 2017 this fall. FSU defensive end Zach Sieler was a consensus preseason pick while senior center Jake Daugherty and senior cornerback Tavierre Thomas both received multiple accolades. In addition, senior quarterback Reggie Bell and junior offensive lineman Devon Johnson garnered Preseason All-America accolades by at least one source.
 
Returning All-Americans
The trio of junior defensive end Zach Sieler along with senior center Jake Daugherty and senior cornerback Tavierre Thomas all attained All-America honors in 2016 following FSU's national semifinal run. Last fall, the trio all received All-America accolades from multiple sources. Sieler was also among the top finalists for the National Small College Defensive Player of the Year honor and also was tabbed as the Football Gazette National Defensive POY.
 
Highest AFCA National Ranking
FSU's current #2 national ranking in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Rankings matches its second-place standing late in the 2015 regular season for the Bulldogs' highest ranking ever in the history of the coaches' poll that dates back to 2000. FSU was ranked as high as 1st nationally in 2015 by D2Football.com along with the Division II Power Rankings, but has never been #1 in the coaches poll.