PREVIEW: Ferris State Football Hosts Wayne State In 2017 Homecoming Game Saturday

FSU Football
Ferris State vs. Wayne State
Saturday, Sept. 30 - 3 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
Team Video Center


This Week's Action:
The Ferris State University football squad returns home this week to host the Wayne State Warriors in FSU's 2017 homecoming game on Saturday (Sept. 30) at Top Taggart Field. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. (ET).
 
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 2:30 p.m. (ET) and is accessible online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. A live pay-per-view video webcast will also be offered in conjunctino with Ferris Television. For a full listing of links, including live internet stats, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
 
Ticket Information
Tickets for Saturday's premium homecoming game are $18 for adults, senior citizens (ages 65+) and FSU faculty/staff along with $10 for students in grades K-12. Ferris students with ID will be admitted free by showing their student identification cards. They can be bought online at StarTickets.com, by calling (800) 585-3737, or in person thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office. The gameday ticket office will open at 1 p.m. on Saturday with tailgating starting at 11 a.m.
 
2017 FSU Homecoming
A large crowd is expected for this week's "Unleash Your Inner Dawg" homecoming game presented by Jet's Pizza. Fans are encouraged to "come early, cheer loud and wear red!". The homecoming slate includes the traditional bonfire on Friday night (8 pm), a parade in downtown Big Rapids on Saturday (12 pm) and various reunions. FSU hockey will also hold its Crimson & Gold scrimmage Saturday night at 6 p.m.

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 run.
 
Memorable Bulldog Run
Over the last three plus seasons at Ferris State, the Bulldogs have compiled a 36-6 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.
 
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.
 
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 51-13 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 276 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, 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 picked the Bulldogs as the preseason favorite to capture the 2017 NCAA-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 an all-time mark of 429-442-40.
 
Series Information
Saturday's contest will mark the second consecutive matchup between the Bulldogs and the Warriors at Top Taggart Field following FSU's decisive 42-20 win a year ago (10/29) in Big Rapids. Last year's meeting was the first since 2013 when FSU posted a 41-10 home win. The two teams have only met three times since 2009 with FSU also winning 35-24 in 2012. In the Bulldogs' first matchup against WSU during the Tony Annese era in 2012, the Bulldogs rallied from a 21-point hole to win 35-24 in Detroit. Ferris State leads the all-time series 27-22 to date.
 
GLIAC Player Of The Week 
Ferris State senior quarterback Reggie Bell was tabbed as the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week following his standout performance in the Bulldogs' season-opening 48-27 non-league road win at Findlay (Sept. 9). 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.
 
High-Powered Offense
Prior to last week's loss at Ashland, the Bulldogs led the nation in both total offense and rushing offense after their first two games. FSU rolled up 600 plus yards in each of its first two contests, including 653 total offensive yards in the season opener at Findlay when FSU totaled 413 on the ground. Last week, FSU was limited to only 228 total yards against the Eagles.
 
The Head Coaches
Ferris State – Tony Annese (Alma, 1983), 6th season, 51-13-0 (.800) – (3-0 vs. WSU).  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 276-58 (.829) to date and includes three prep state championships and two national JUCO crowns. He won his 50th game at FSU in the season opener versus Findlay and it was also his 275th win at all levels overall. 
 
Wayne State - Paul Winters (Akron, 1980), 14th season, 78-71 (.523) overall - (2-5-0 vs. Ferris State). Winters led WSU to its eighth winning campaign in nine years last season. He claimed AFCA National Coach of the Year laurels after guiding the winningest team in school history in 2011, which reached the national title game. A two-time GLIAC Coach of the Year, Winters played collegiately as a running back at Akron before beginning his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater. He moved onto Wisconsin as an assistant coach before returning to the Akron staff from 1995-2003 when he was named head coach at Wayne State.
 
Current Rankings Nationally
Ferris State remains a consensus top 20 in the country in several Division II regular-season polls this week, including as high as #3 still in the Massey Online Computer Ratings. FSU is also 11th in the D2Football.com and Hero Sports polls in addition to 14th from CompughterRatings.com and 15th by the American Football Coaches Association.
 
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.
 
Homecoming Games
Ferris State is 36-38-2 (.487) in its Homecoming contests dating back to 1931 and has won 17 of its last 27 such encounters. The Bulldogs beat Northern Michigan by a 35-6 count in 2011 (10/15) in the homecoming contest, but then dropped two-straight homecoming matchups against Hillsdale (30-20; 2012) and Saginaw Valley State (31-28; 2013). FSU recorded a 49-21 victory over Findlay on homecoming in 2014 and beat Saginaw Valley State in 2015 (35-18), giving the Bulldogs two-straight homecoming victories prior to a 39-31 setback a year ago against nationally-ranked Ashland.

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. 
 
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.
 
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. Zimmer recently signed with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.
 
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 51-13 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 #2 national ranking in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Rankings prior to its loss at Ashland matched 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.

First Setback In Ohio
Ferris State held a perfect 9-0 mark in games played in the state of Ohio under current FSU head coach Tony Annese prior to last week's loss at Ashland. He had never lost a game in his six seasons at the FSU helm in Ohio, which included this year's season-opening 48-27 road win at Findlay.
 
The Last Matchup
A year ago, the Bulldogs made a statement by beating Wayne State 42-20 in a battle of nationally-ranked teams at Top Taggart Field. The Bulldogs jumped in front of the Warriors by three scores in the first half and erased any chances of a WSU comeback with a strong third quarter en route to the victory. Ferris State finished with 545 yards of total offense while holding WSU to 419 yards. FSU QB Reggie Bell had a big day in leading the Bulldogs with 172 rushing yards on 13 carries with two scores. He also completed 13-of-18 throws for 239 yards and two TD's.
 
Home Of College Football's Greatest Rushing QB
Current FSU quarterback Reggie Bell is following in the footsteps of college football's "greatest rushing quarterback" of all-time in former FSU signal caller Jason Vander Laan. He finished with 5,953 career rushing yards from 2012-15 and surpassed the all-time record for most rushing yards by any QB at any level. He topped the previous career record of 5,128 yards held by Wofford's Shawn Graves from 1989-92.  Vander Laan eventually finished as a two-time recipient of the Harlon Hill Trophy presented to Division II's top player, becoming the first GLIAC player to ever win the award twice. He also was the first player in NCAA history at any level to both rush and pass for 1,000 yards for four consecutive seasons.
 
Live National TV Again
This year represents the third consecutive year in which the Bulldogs have been selected to participate at least once in the NCAA's Division II Game of the Week package. In each of the last two years, the Bulldogs hosted a Division II National Game of the Week on the American Sports Network. Two years ago (10/24/15), ASN televised FSU's 24-14 victory over Michigan Tech at Top Taggart Field. That game also was a matchup of nationally-ranked squads as then fourth-ranked Ferris State topped the 17th-ranked Huskies in Big Rapids. Last year, ASN also carried the Bulldogs' homecoming matchup against Ashland, which the Eagles won 39-31 in a battle of top 10 ranked squads. Along with last Saturday's game at AU, ESPN3 will also carry the Bulldogs' home tilt against rival Grand Valley State on Oct. 21 this season as part of the national game of the week package.
 
Next Home Game
Ferris State continues a two-game homestand as the Bulldogs host the Tiffin Dragons next Saturday (Oct. 7) with kickoff set for 1 p.m. (ET) at Top Taggart Field. Including Saturday's matchup with Wayne State, a total of four of the Bulldogs' next five outings are at home.
 
AFCA Good Works Team
Ferris State senior center Jake Daugherty received a big honor by being named to the 2017 AFCA Good Works Team for his on and off-field accomplishments & community service. He was one of only 10 non-D1 players named to the team. Daugherty is a hometown product who prepped at Big Rapids High School. Fans can help Jake be chosen as the Good Works Team Captain and win a trip to the ESPN College Football Awards Show by voting online thru Nov. 23 by visiting ESPN.com/Allstate.