Ill. - After a 2012 season that included a
12-game winning streak, a second consecutive Mid-American Conference
Championship and a trip to the Discover Orange Bowl in the first Bowl
Championship Series (BCS) appearance in MAC history, Northern
Illinois announced its 2013 non-conference schedule and its
line-up of MAC opponents for next season Wednesday.
After playing seven home games
in each of the past two seasons, including one each year at Chicago's Soldier
Field, Northern Illinois will play five games in Huskie Stadium in 2013,
beginning with the home opener Sept. 21 versus Eastern Illinois. The Huskies'
non-conference schedule begins with a rematch versus Iowa
in the 2013 season opener on August 31 in Iowa
City. Iowa defeated Northern Illinois, 18-17, in Soldier Field in the 2012
season opener by scoring its lone touchdown of the game with less than two
minutes to play.
NIU will travel to Idaho on Sept. 14 and
faces new Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell and the Boilermakers in Ross-Ade
Stadium on Sept. 28. The Huskies last played both Idaho
and Purdue in 2009 with the Vandals claiming a 34-31 win over NIU at Huskie
Stadium and Northern Illinois getting a 28-20
win at Purdue that season.
Huskie Head Coach Rod Carey
knows that coming off the success of not just 2012, but the last three years,
his 2013 team will be challenged.
"We're excited," Carey said. "We've had a good record on the
road over the last couple of years and we'll look to continue that success. We
have some challenges ahead in 2013 with some great teams and we'll look forward
to meeting them individually and focus on taking one game at a time."
In Mid-American Conference play, Northern Illinois will play
host to MAC West opponents Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, the
team now coached by former Huskie P.J. Fleck, along with Akron. On the road, NIU will play Central
Michigan, the last MAC team to beat the Huskies, and Toledo out of the West. Northern Illinois and
will meet in a rematch of the 2012 Marathon MAC Championship game, a 44-37
double overtime victory by NIU at Ford Field in Detroit. Northern Illinois will also make its
first trip to Massachusetts
where the Minutemen and Huskies will play in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, the
home of the New England Patriots.
"The MAC had a great season last year as a conference,"
Carey said. "We had seven bowl teams and a ton of non-conference wins. This
league has great teams and it's always challenging. We look forward to
welcoming the teams to Huskie Stadium, and then will take on the road schedule,
highlighted by our first trip to UMass and a rivalry game at Toledo, which is always tough."
Northern Illinois will take a 21-game winning streak in
Huskie Stadium into the Eastern Illinois game
on Sept. 21 and the Huskies own the longest conference winning streak in the
nation with 17 consecutive MAC wins. NIU's 2013 slate includes five teams that
played in bowl games in 2012. Carey wants to bring the excitement generated by
the Huskies' trip to the Discover Orange Bowl to DeKalb in 2013.
"I was so impressed with all the NIU fans that were in Miami for the Orange
Bowl, whether they were students, alums or people from the community. It was
awesome," Carey said. "Huskie Nation was there in force and they were loud. We
want to make Huskie Stadium look like the Orange Bowl on New Year's every game
next season. We want that kind of excitement in Huskie Stadium for every home
game we play."
NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff
Compher said that the Huskie football program has become a proven success on
the field and in the classroom, and the emphasis going forward will be to build
on the school's historic Orange Bowl berth.
"The team has done its part, they've won games, won
championships and taken us to a BCS bowl game," Compher said. "Now we need to
continue to grow the support for this team. To all the NIU fans who had a great
time cheering on the Huskies and showing their school spirit in Miami, we need you in
Huskie Stadium in 2013. Building the fan base and increasing attendance at our
home games is the next step in sustaining our success."