After a record-setting season that included the first BCS appearance in MAC history, Northern Illinois announced its 2013 nonconference schedule and its lineup of MAC opponents for next season.
Northern Illinois, the defending champions of the Mid-American Conference, will play five games in Huskie Stadium in 2013, beginning with the home opener Sept. 21 versus Eastern Illinois. The Huskies' nonconference schedule begins with a rematch versus Iowa in the 2013 season opener on Aug. 31 in Iowa City.
2013 NIU footballHere is a glance at the tentative football schedule for Northern Illinois University next season. Dates and times for all games and conference games will be announced later. For ticket information, visit niuhuskies.com/tickets/
HOME games in CAPS:
2013 Northern Illinois nonconference schedule
Aug. 31: at Iowa
Sept. 14: at Idaho
Sept. 21: EASTERN ILLINOIS
Sept. 28: at Purdue
Away: Central Michigan, Toledo, Kent State, UMass
Home: Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Akron
Iowa defeated Northern Illinois, 18-17, in Soldier Field in the 2012 season opener, and the Huskies went on to win 12 straight games before falling to Florida State in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.
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 taking a 34-31 win over NIU at Huskie Stadium and Northern Illinois getting a 28-20 win at Purdue that season.
Huskies 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."
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 Huskies star receiver 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 Kent State 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.
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.
"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."
Northern Illinois will hold its 2013 Kickoff event for all fans, including Huskie Athletic Support Fund members, season ticket holders and prospective season ticket holders, on March 2 at the NIU Convocation Center.
NIU returns eight starters on offense and four on defense in 2013, including all-American Jordan Lynch at quarterback. Lynch set three NCAA records in his first season leading the Huskie offense and became the first quarterback in FBS history to pass for 3,000 and rush for more than 1,500 in a season. He finished with 4,953 yards of total offense with 1,815 rushing and 3,138 passing yards while throwing for 25 touchdowns and rushing for 19.