Jan. 6, 2012
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will play Akron and new Mid-American Conference member Massachusetts in 2012, along with West Division newcomer Bowling Green, according to the line-up of opponents and sites released by the league office.
At home, the Huskies will face West Division opponents Bowling Green, Toledo and Central Michigan, along with Massachusetts, the MAC's newest member, which will play in the East Division.
In MAC play, the Huskies will be on the road versus West opponents Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Ball State, and will take on Akron, under new head coach Terry Bowden, of the East.
"The best thing is that it is January 6 and we know who and where we are playing next season," said NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher. "I appreciate the league office getting this completed so early so that we can get the information to our fans. In terms of the opponents, I think the realignment move of Bowling Green to the West makes a lot of sense, and we look forward to playing them annually going forward. With all the success of our teams over the last several years, the Toledo game has become one of the biggest on the schedule every year, and it's great to have the opportunity to host UMass at Huskie Stadium in their first season in the league."
Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren reiterated Compher's sentiments regarding Bowling Green.
"It's great to have Bowling Green back in the West," said NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren. "Geographically, I think that makes a lot of sense and it restores some natural rivalries, so that was a great decision. We look forward to playing Akron and UMass as our East Division opponents, and certainly look forward to receiving the complete schedule with dates."
Dates for the league games will be announced in March.
For the second straight season, Northern Illinois' 2012 home schedule totals seven games, with six games at Huskie Stadium and the 2012 season opener versus Iowa at Soldier Field on Sept. 1. NIU will play at the historic Chicago stadium for the third time in the last six seasons and will open 2012 versus the Hawkeyes in Chicago over Labor Day Weekend after playing Wisconsin there last September.
NIU will also play host to a team from the Big 12 for the first time since 2003 when Kansas, under new head coach Charlie Weis, visits DeKalb on Sept. 22. NIU will also entertain Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 8 in DeKalb next season, and will take on Army at West Point on Sept. 15 in NIU's lone non-conference road game.
"For the second year in a row, we have six home games in DeKalb, which is a real plus for our team and our fans," Compher said. "We're excited about the opportunity to play Iowa at Soldier Field for the season opener on Labor Day Weekend."
Information on 2012 season tickets as well as tickets to Soldier Field Showdown III will be available in February.
Northern Illinois completes its 2011 season this Sunday night in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala. The game matches NIU, 10-3 and MAC Champions, and Arkansas State, 10-2 and Sun Belt Conference Champions. Northern Illinois enters the game on an eight-game winning streak while Arkansas State has won nine consecutive games. The game kicks off at 8 p.m. (CT) from Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.
-- NIU -
Keep up with the latest news and information on the Huskies' bowl trip at Bowl Central on NIUHuskies.com and follow on Twitter @NIUAthletics.