The Northern Illinois University Huskies will face a challenging schedule from start to finish in 2014 as the Mid-American Conference released the 2014 schedules of its 13 league teams Friday.
NIU, which posted its second straight 12-win season in 2013 and played in the Mid-American Conference Championship game for the fourth consecutive year, will play three of its first four and four of its last five games on the road.
The Huskies will start the year taking on their four non-conference foes in September before settling into its league slate with MAC East crossover opponents Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio joining NIU’s traditional West Division rivals to make up the 2014 schedule.
NIU head coach Rod Carey, who begins his second full season in that role in 2014, said the Huskies will be tested on the road, especially late in the year.
“(The schedule) is similar to last year (when the Huskies won seven road games). We have to prove our mettle on the road and certainly no one is going to feel bad for us,” Carey said.
“I’m excited about having three straight home games in October and we’re going to want to see Huskie Stadium packed for every home game. Four of the last five on the road will test us as a team; we look forward to the challenge. For us, the November games on weeknights have become the norm, and while those games affect the academic schedule a little more, the type of exposure our program and our university receive from the ESPN games is extremely valuable.”
Information on purchasing season tickets for 2014, including exciting new premium seating and amenities, will be available in the coming weeks. Season ticket renewal packets will be mailed in mid-March and information on all of the new options will be posted online.
To make a deposit or reserve season tickets now for another exciting season of Huskie Football, call (815) 753-PACK (7225).
The Huskies will open the 2014 campaign at Huskie Stadium with a night game Thursday, Aug. 28, versus Presbyterian, putting the nation’s longest home stadium winning streak of 26 games on the line for the first of five times in 2014. Following that contest, NIU hits the road for the rest of the month, beginning with the short trip Sept. 6 to Evanston, Ill. for a game versus Northwestern.
The Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in the closest proximity to Chicago will battle at Ryan Field for the first time since 2005 and for just the eighth time ever. The Wildcats have won six of the seven games in the series, which includes a 16-16 tie in 1987, but the Huskies have been the state’s most successful team since 2000.
NIU travels to Las Vegas for a Sept. 13 game versus UNLV in a road trip sure to be popular with Huskie fans. The Huskies will offer travel packages for that game with details to be announced in March. The Rebels and Huskies will square off for the fourth time and have not met since 1995.
After traveling to Fayetteville, Ark. on Sept. 20 for just the second meeting with Arkansas all-time and NIU’s first game against a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2008, the Huskies will enjoy an open date Sept. 27 in preparation for the eight-game Mid-American Conference schedule.
“Opening up at home is a huge advantage to get the season started, and anytime you are in a Big Ten and an SEC stadium it is a great opportunity to test ourselves against the best,” Carey said. “UNLV went to a bowl game last year and they have an improving program. Las Vegas is a good trip from a fan standpoint and we hope to have a lot of support there, as well as at Northwestern and Arkansas.”
The Huskies open MAC play with three consecutive Saturday home games when they welcome Kent State (Oct. 4), Central Michigan (Oct. 11) and Miami (Oct. 18) to Huskie Stadium. NIU takes on Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti on Saturday, Oct. 25 to close out the month.
NIU has again been tabbed as an ESPN network weeknight favorite, as the Huskies will play three November weeknight games. NIU and Ball State will meet on either ESPN2 or ESPNU at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5. The NIU-Toledo game at Huskie Stadium, which has been played in November on ESPN2 in each of the last four seasons, is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11 (CT).
One week later, NIU travels to Athens, Ohio for a 7 p.m. game versus the Bobcats that will air on either ESPNU or ESPN3.
The Huskies close out the regular season Friday, Nov. 28 at Western Michigan. That game also will air on either ESPNU or ESPN3.
“Going into the bowl season last year, I believe the MAC was the No. 1-rated non AQ league in the country,” Carey said. “As a league, we have separated ourselves both with big wins in the non-conference schedule and with what we have done in conference. The MAC plays great football and it’s not going to be any different this year. Every week in the MAC, you have to come out and play your best.”
Over the last four seasons, the NIU football program has enjoyed a run of success rivaled by few teams in the nation.
Since the beginning of the 2010 season, only one Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program has won more games than NIU’s 46. The Huskies have played in each of the last four Mid-American Conference Championship games as MAC West Division Champions, claimed wins over the likes of Iowa, Purdue and Kansas and are 31-1 in regular season games versus MAC opponents over the last four seasons.
The Huskies have played in six straight bowl games, tied for the longest streak in league history.
NIU, which returns 46 letterwinners and 14 starters in 2014, opens spring practices Tuesday, March 18, with the Huskie Bowl Spring Game set for 3 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at Huskie Stadium.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.