Coming off the most successful season in school history, three straight years with 11 wins or more and back-to-back Mid-American Conference Championships, Northern Illinois will face one of its most challenging schedules in recent seasons according to the 2013 slate released recently by the school and the Mid-American Conference.
With five home games at Huskie Stadium, where NIU has won 21 straight games, but only one home contest in the first six weeks of the season, Northern Illinois will be tested early before finishing with a MAC West midweek gauntlet in November featuring consecutive contests versus Ball State, Toledo and Western Michigan.
The Huskies will take on five teams that played in bowl games a year ago.
“With only three of the first nine games at home, the 2013 schedule presents a great challenge for our team,” said NIU first-year head coach Rod Carey.
“We look forward to meeting the challenge head on. With just five home games, we expect and need Huskie Stadium to be filled every time we are there. We’ve had quite a run at home, and we need great fan support to keep our streak alive with the quality of opponents coming to Huskie Stadium this year.”
Northern Illinois will play two Big Ten teams in the same season for the first time since 2010 as the Huskies open the 2013 campaign at Iowa on Aug. 31 and travel to West Lafayette, Ind. to face Purdue Sept. 28, bookending NIU’s non-conference slate
After enjoying a rare September open date on Sept. 7, NIU will play Idaho in the Kibbie Dome in Moscow on Sept. 14 before opening its home schedule versus Eastern Illinois on Sept. 21.
NIU will open defense of its MAC title with a rematch of last year’s Marathon MAC Championship game at Kent State on Saturday, Oct. 5. Northern Illinois defeated the Golden Flashes, 44-37, in double overtime in the 2012 Marathon MAC Championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field. The victory vaulted NIU to a No. 15 BCS Ranking and a spot in the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl.
Northern Illinois plays its first league home game Oct. 12 when Akron visits for Homecoming 2013.
The Huskies are back on the road the next week (Oct. 19) at Central Michigan, where NIU has not won since 2005. Northern Illinois closes out October in DeKalb versus Eastern Michigan, then makes its first visit to Massachusetts on Nov. 3. The Minutemen and Huskies will meet at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, the home of the New England Patriots. It will be Northern Illinois’ fourth game in an NFL stadium in the last two seasons as NIU played in the homes of the Chicago Bears (Soldier Field), Detroit Lions (Ford Field) and Miami Dolphins (Sun Life Stadium) last season.
Northern Illinois will be featured on an ESPN network in each of its final three games.