Two Of NCAA Division II's Top Football Programs Announce Four-Year Scheduling Agreement

FSU

Big Rapids, Mich. - Two of NCAA Division II's top collegiate football programs will continue to square off for the near future as Ferris State University has announced a four-year gridiron scheduling agreement with Ashland University.

The two programs, who have combined to win or share five of the last six Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championships, inked a four-year partnership to continue the series once the Eagles depart for the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) next season.

The final conference matchup between the two schools is set to be played on Sept. 19 this fall in Big Rapids (pending the COVID-19 pandemic) with the new non-league agreement covering the 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 campaigns. The two schools will meet in week two each of the four years at alternating home sites starting in 2021 at AU's Jack Miller Stadium in Ohio.

"We have a ton of respect for Ashland and all that they've accomplished and look forward to continuing what has developed into a great rivalry with outstanding sportsmanship," said FSU head coach Tony Annese. "The games have always been extremely hard-fought on both sides and we expect these contests to continue to be tightly-contested, championship-level matchups that will be entertaining for the players, coaches and fans."

The Eagles currently lead the overall series between the two schools by a 16-12 count, but the Bulldogs have claimed 12 of the last 21 contests, including eight of the past 14 to date.

Since 2014, the two schools have been the GLIAC's top programs on the field, with FSU going 53-3 in the conference over that stretch and the Eagles posting a 48-8 league mark. The Eagles have also battled the Bulldogs better than anyone in the conference during the Tony Annese era as the two schools are 3-3 against each other since 2012.

Together, the two schools have also made a combined nine NCAA Division II Playoff appearances since 2012.

"Signing a national football power like Ferris State as one of our non-league games in 2021 is significant," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "We hope to reassure our fans, alumni, players, and recruits that we are committed to playing the most competitive schedule possible in D2 football."

Last fall, the Bulldogs posted a 28-13 league-opening road win over Ashland (9/21), which gave Ferris State its' first win over the Eagles in Ohio since 2013. In the three previous campaigns from 2016-18, the contest also drew attention as the NCAA Division II National Game of the Week. The Eagles were 39-31 winners in Big Rapids in '16 and recorded a 20-3 triumph at home over the Bulldogs in 2017 prior to FSU's 28-21 victory at Top Taggart Field in 2018.

Along with the series against Ashland, the Bulldogs are also currently scheduled to continue to play the University of Findlay in week one action in both 2021 and 2022 as part of the non-league slate.

The Bulldogs are slated to begin their 112th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on making a seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. Ferris State reached the national semifinals for the third time in four years in 2019 and claimed a second-straight GLIAC Championship with an unblemished league record.