After hosting Wisconsin and Iowa at Soldier Field in recent years, Northern Illinois will return to the lakefront in 2016 to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first of three football games between the teams, school officials announced Monday.
The Huskies and Cornhuskers will play at Soldier Field on Sept. 24, 2016, and NIU will travel to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. for games on Sept. 2, 2017 and Sept. 14, 2019.
"Ever since the Iowa game this past September, I've been asked about the next Huskie home game at Soldier Field," said NIU Director of Athletics Jeff Compher. "This series would not have come together without the efforts of (Nebraska Director of Athletics) Tom Osborne, so I especially want to thank him for his willingness to work with us to schedule these three games."
Northern Illinois has played three home games at Soldier Field over the past six seasons, including the 2012 season opener versus Iowa won by the Hawkeyes, 18-17, in front of a crowd of 52,117. The Huskies and Hawkeyes sold out the 61,500-seat stadium in 2007 when Iowa won 16-3, and NIU and Wisconsin drew 41,068 fans on Sept. 17, 2011 in a game that the Badgers dominated, 49-7.
The 2016 contest will mark the third game all-time between Northern Illinois and Nebraska, and the first since Sept. 8, 1990 when NIU lost to the No. 7-ranked Cornhuskers 60-14 at Memorial Stadium. The Huskies also lost to No. 4 Nebraska in Lincoln on Sept. 9, 1989 by the score of 48-17.
"The benefits of playing at Soldier Field cannot be overstated," Compher said. "It's a beautiful NFL venue that allows us to showcase our team and program to recruits, and to connect with our alumni base in the city."