DeKALB – This season’s Northern Illinois football schedule certainly is different than the 2008 version. The schedule, released Thursday by NIU and the Mid-American Conference, has an even balance of home and road games and has the Huskies visiting Big 10 teams Wisconsin (Sept. 5) and Purdue (Sept. 19.).
“There’s an advantage of that, for our fans,” NIU coach Jerry Kill said. “Our fans can go two hours to Wisconsin and three hours or whatever it is to West Lafayette [Ind.]. That’s a good driving distance to play college football. The other thing is recuriting. We’re recruiting those areas.”
The Huskies begin MAC play Oct. 3 in DeKalb against Western Michigan, which is also the homecoming game for NIU.
It will be the third home game of the season. Last year’s third home game wasn’t until Oct. 18. NIU will have short rest between the end of October when it plays Akron at home and Nov. 5 when it begins the midweek portion of the schedule at home against Eastern Michigan at 6:30 p.m.
“The five day turnaround will be different but we’ve done this before,” Kill said. “We’re playing at home so that will help.”
NIU has three midweek games this season compared to four last year.
The Huskies follow up the Eastern Michigan game with a 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 home game against Ball State. The game will be televisied on ESPNU.
Kill said he tries not to get caught up in a unique time for a midweek game and said, because ESPN was involved, he wouldn’t be surprised if the time for the game was changed at some point in the season.
“The TV part of it is important,” Kill said. “The exposure has helped us.”
The Huskies finish the season with two games on the road, at Ohio and then at Central Michigan in a televised game the day after Thanksgiving.
“The deal with the schedule is the conference hands it out so it doesn’t really matter,” Kill said, “you’ve still got to play.”
2009 NIU Schedule
Sep. 5 at Wisconsin 12 Western Illinois 19 at Purdue 26 Idaho Oct. 3 Western Michigan 17 at Toledo 24 at Miami 31 Akron Nov. 5 Eastern Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU) 12 Ball State, 5 p.m. (ESPNU) 21 at Ohio 27 at Central Michigan, tbd (ESPNU/ESPN360)