Huskie football schedule features home games vs. Iowa, Kansas, third Soldier Field Showdown

Six of Huskies’ seven home games to be played on Saturdays

Seven home games, including non-conference tilts versus Iowa and Kansas and six Saturday contests, highlight the NIU football 2012 schedule released Thursday by NIU and the Mid-American Conference.

Northern Illinois, the defending Mid-American Conference champions, will play seven home games – six at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb and one at Chicago’s Soldier Field – for the second consecutive season.

NIU Huskies football team

Northern Illinois will play four consecutive non-conference games to open the season beginning with the Sept. 1 opener versus Iowa at Soldier Field, the downtown Chicago venue that has become the Huskies’ second home.

The Huskies will play at Soldier Field for the third time since 2007 and will meet the Hawkeyes in a Labor Day Weekend season-opener for the second time. Northern Illinois played Wisconsin at Soldier Field last season.

NIU opens its Huskie Stadium home slate a week later versus Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 8 before playing its first road game Sept. 15 at Army in the second half of a home-and-home series. Northern Illinois carries a 15-game home winning streak at Huskie Stadium into the UT-Martin contest as the Huskies have not lost at its primary home venue since Sept. 26, 2009.

Northern Illinois closes out its non-conference slate by welcoming Kansas to Huskie Stadium for the first time in school history on Sept. 22.  The Jayhawks are the first automatic qualifying conference school to play in DeKalb since Iowa State on Sept. 27, 2003. A year ago, Kansas claimed a 45-42 win over NIU by scoring a touchdown with nine seconds to play.

Jeff Compher

Jeff Compher

“This is an exciting schedule for our fans,” said Jeff Compher, NIU associate vice president and director of Athletics.

“It is similar to last year with seven home games, including the Soldier Field contest. Obviously there will be a lot of attention on the fact we have a Big 12 team at Huskie Stadium, which is something our fans have been looking forward to, and I am really hoping some of our fans will plan to make the trip to the Army game. I’m looking forward to being able to experience all the traditions of a game at West Point.”

The Huskies open defense of their MAC title versus the only league school to defeat NIU a year ago as Central Michigan visits Huskie Stadium on Sept. 29. The series with the Chippewas is the oldest on Northern Illinois 2012 schedule as the teams meet for the 48th time.

After playing four home games in five weeks in September, Northern Illinois is on the road three times in four weeks in October, beginning Oct. 6 at Ball State. NIU defeated the Cardinals 41-38 on a 34-yard field goal with eight seconds to play a year ago in Huskie Stadium.

Northern Illinois will play host to MAC East foe Buffalo for the annual Homecoming contest Oct. 13 in their lone October home appearance. NIU visits Akron and new head coach Terry Bowden Oct. 20 and travels to Kalamazoo, Mich., to face MAC West rival Western Michigan Oct. 27.

When Northern Illinois takes on MAC newcomer Massachusetts on Saturday, Nov. 3 it will mark the Huskies’ first November home game to be played on a Saturday in five seasons – since 2007 when the Huskies played at home on Nov. 10 and Nov. 24.

NIU will then have 11 days to prepare for their nationally televised (ESPN2 or ESPNU) match-up versus Toledo on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. (CT) and will wait nine days before traveling to Ypsilanti, Mich. for the regular season finale versus Eastern Michigan on Nov. 23.

“I think if you look at the home schedule, we have two BCS teams, including one in Huskie Stadium, we have a rivalry game against Toledo, and we have Central Michigan, the team that beat us a year ago,” said NIU head coach Dave Doeren. “We get to play at home in November, which is the month when champions are crowned.  It’s a great schedule for fans to have almost all Saturday home games.  Compared to last year with back-to-back-to-back Tuesdays, we’ve got a Saturday, a Wednesday and a Friday this November.”

Dave Doeren

Dave Doeren

Both Compher and Doeren believe the 2012 schedule will be attractive to Northern Illinois fans.

“We’ve won 15 straight games at Huskie Stadium and we really need our fans in the stands for every game to help us keep that streak going,” Doeren said.  “Huskie Stadium is a tough place to play when it is full and the fans get behind us, our players really feed off that energy.”

“We are certainly hoping that with this appealing schedule our fans will support us in greater numbers than ever before,” Compher said.

“We are offering some great and very affordable ticket options. We’ve been able to play well at home recently, and it is critical for our program to have that kind of fan support going forward. When it comes to the Soldier Field game, we consider Soldier Field our Chicago home stadium so we want to bring that same type of support and create that home field advantage.”

Northern Illinois 2012 football season tickets are on sale now through the NIU Athletics External Office for just $120 for the full six-game Huskie Stadium season.

Mini-plans, featuring any three Huskie Stadium games, can be purchased for $60, while NIU’s new HuskieLand Plan tickets provide a ticket to the Sept. 8 season-opener versus Tennessee-Martin, the Kansas game (Sept. 22) and the MAC West rivalry game versus Toledo (Nov. 14) as well as three $15 gift cards to local businesses Buffalo Wild Wings, Hy-Vee and Village Commons Bookstore.

Season ticket holders can now order tickets to Soldier Field Showdown III – the Huskies’ 2012 season opening game versus Iowa at Soldier Field on Sept. 1 – through the NIU Athletics Ticket Office in the Convocation Center or by calling (815) 752-6800.

For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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