2009 Northern Illinois Football Schedule Announced
March 26, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - Six home games, three ESPN network airings, a pair of contests versus Big Ten foes, and the always-rugged Mid-American Conference West Division await the 2009 Northern Illinois Huskies, according to the schedule released Thursday by NIU and the MAC Office.
As in each of the last four seasons, the Huskies will open the 2009 campaign against a Big Ten opponent when NIU takes on Wisconsin on Sept. 5, 2009 at Camp Randall Stadium. Northern Illinois has played Wisconsin 11 times, more than any other Big Ten team.
Northern Illinois will play six home games for the fourth straight season, beginning with a pair of September non-conference match-ups - versus intra-state foe Western Illinois on Sept. 12, and Idaho on Sept. 26. Those games are sandwiched around a trip to West Lafayette, Ind. on Sept. 19, where the Huskies and Purdue will battle for the first time. Purdue is one of two Big Ten teams that NIU has never played.
Huskie head coach Jerry Kill said the early-season games will provide a great test for his team, beginning with the season opener.
"We all know the last time we played Wisconsin [a 44-3 loss on Oct. 20, 2007], things didn't go so well, so hopefully that will motivate our guys more to get ready for the opener," Kill said. "The one advantage for our fans in playing these two Big 10 schools is that our fans have a chance to drive to both games. When we go into venues like these, we will need all the support we can get.
"I like our home schedule," Kill continued. "Our fans will be able to see us early in the season at home, and we've got the three straight home games at the back half."
NIU opens Mid-American Conference play on Saturday, Oct. 3 as Western Michigan visits Huskie Stadium for Homecoming 2009. Following an open date the next Saturday, the Huskies will play road contests at Toledo and Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 17 and 24, respectively, before returning home for a Halloween (Oct. 31) game versus Akron. The contest will mark the first meeting between NIU and Akron since the 2005 MAC Championship game.
After his first season as a coach in the league, Kill knows the challenges that the MAC schedule brings.
"As for our conference schedule, we had five teams go to bowl games from the MAC last year, and four of those were from the West Division so we look for the West to be as competitive as ever," Kill said. "Our crossover games present a new challenge with Miami having a new coach and the fact that our staff has not faced Akron or Ohio, so we have some work to do on them this summer."
Northern Illinois will face two of its MAC West foes, Eastern Michigan and Ball State, at home on back-to-back Thursdays in November, with both contests currently scheduled for broadcast on ESPNU. The Huskies have been featured on an ESPN network telecast 15 times over the last four seasons.
"It's nice to have our two Thursday night games at home," Kill said. "Last year it was difficult for our student-athletes when we had to travel to Ball State and play on a weekday. These Thursday night home games will give us the ESPN exposure, but will not cost us any class time."
The Huskies close out the 2009 regular season with a pair of road games. On November 21, NIU will play at Ohio for the first time since the 1998 campaign while Northern Illinois and Central Michigan will meet in Mt. Pleasant on Friday, Nov. 27 in the Huskies' third ESPN network game.
Now that the schedule is out, Northern Illinois' 2009 season ticket sales efforts will move into high gear, said NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher.
"The schedule has been the last piece of the puzzle in terms of being able to fully roll out our marketing initiatives for 2009," Compher said. "We already announced our new, lower season ticket prices and the option for fans to choose their games on the [three-game] mini-plan. With the release of our schedule and spring football in the air, we hope people will start thinking football and get ready for the 2009 season."
"Our home ESPN games this year are on Thursday night, and will once again provide great exposure for our team and our university to a nationwide audience," he continued. "We proved last year with the Navy game that Huskie fans will support weeknight games, and the play of our team, along with the game day atmosphere at Huskie Stadium, makes NIU one of the most attractive teams in the MAC for ESPN."
Northern Illinois is coming off a 6-7 campaign that ended with a trip to Shreveport, La. and a berth in the Independence Bowl as NIU made its fourth postseason appearance in the last five years.
Season tickets, at a cost of just $90 for the general public and $78 for senior citizens (62+), NIU faculty and staff, NIU Alumni Association members and Varsity Club members (former letterwinners), are on sale now and can be ordered online at www.niuhuskies.com or by calling the Northern Illinois Athletics Ticket Office at 815-752-6800 or the Huskie Marketing Office at 815-753-1923. The three-game season ticket mini-plan offers tickets to three 2009 home games for just $50. Both options offer considerable savings over single game purchases.
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