DeKALB, Ill. – A pair of Big Ten Conference opponents, a Chicagoland game versus one of the most storied independent programs in the nation and five games at Huskie Stadium highlight Northern Illinois University’s 2020 football schedule released today by NIU and the Mid-American Conference.
NIU will open its 118th season of intercollegiate football on Saturday, September 5 when the Huskies play host to Rhode Island in the first meeting between the teams, kicking off Thomas Hammock’s second season at the helm of the NIU program.
The Huskies then hit the road for three weeks with Big Ten games at Maryland (Sept. 12) and at Iowa (Sept. 26) sandwiched around the MAC opener at Eastern Michigan (Sept. 19). NIU and Maryland will play for the first time since 2004, with the Terps holding a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series. The game between the Huskies and Hawkeyes is the 11th all-time, with NIU earning its lone triumph in the 2013 season opener. The 2020 game marks the fourth contest between the teams in the last eight seasons, with NIU last visiting Iowa City to open the 2018 campaign.
“We’re certainly excited about the schedule,” said NIU head coach Thomas Hammock. “It’s a quality schedule if you look at the non-conference with Maryland, Iowa and BYU, and then opening up with Rhode Island. Then we get right into our conference schedule with Eastern Michigan in the third game of the season.”
NIU returns to Huskie Stadium to take on Kent State (Oct. 3) and Central Michigan (Oct. 10) in back-to-back weeks with the CMU game on October 10th designated as Homecoming, the 114th such celebration in school history. NIU plays at Ball State on October 17th as the Huskies look to reclaim the Bronze Stalk Trophy.
On Saturday, October 24, NIU and BYU meet in the 2020 Huskie Chi-Town Showdown at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois. Tickets for the contest are already on sale as BYU plays in the state of Illinois for the first time. NIU won the only previous meeting between the teams when the Huskies defeated the Cougars, 7-6, in Provo in 2018.
The MACtion portion of the 2020 schedule begins Tuesday, November 3 when the Huskies take on Buffalo on Election Night in Huskie Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2. A week later (Tues., Nov. 10), NIU takes on Western Michigan in Kalamazoo in a second national television broadcast. National TV cameras will also be focused on DeKalb the following Tuesday (Nov. 17) when the Huskies close out their home schedule versus Toledo. The contest between the Huskies and Rockets has become a staple of the MACtion schedule dating back to 2010 with each of the last 10 games televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
“This is a great, very competitive, conference,” Hammock said of the MAC schedule. “We know it and we embrace the competition. I like that we have those national TV games at the end of the schedule where a lot of young men can watch us play. Those games help us in recruiting and enable our out-of-state fans and families to follow us.”
After its second 10-day “mini-bye” of the year, NIU closes out the regular season with a Black Friday game at Bowling Green (Nov. 27). The Marathon MAC Championship game will be held at Ford Field in Detroit on either December 4th or 5th.
Schedule/Day, Date OPPONENT (TV) SITE TIME (CT)
Sat., Sept. 5 RHODE ISLAND DEKALB, ILLINOIS TBA
Sat., Sept. 12 at Maryland College Park, Maryland TBA
Sat., Sept. 19 at Eastern Michigan* Ypsilanti, Michigan TBA
Sat., Sept. 26 at Iowa Iowa City, Iowa TBA
Sat., Oct. 3 KENT STATE* DEKALB, ILLINOIS TBA
Sat., Oct. 10 CENTRAL MICHIGAN* DEKALB, ILLINOIS TBA
Sat., Oct. 17 at Ball State* Muncie, Indiana TBA
Huskie Chi-Town Showdown (SeatGeek Stadium)
Sat., Oct. 24 BYU BRIDGEVIEW, ILLINOIS TBA
Tues., Nov. 3 BUFFALO* (ESPN2) DEKALB, ILLINOIS TBA
Tues. Nov. 10 at Western Michigan* (ESPN2/ESPNU/CBSSN) Kalamazoo, Michigan TBA
Tues. Nov. 17 TOLEDO* (ESPN2/ESPNU) DEKALB, ILLINOIS TBA
Fri., Nov. 27 at Bowling Green* (ESPNU/ESPN3/ESPN+/CBSSN) Bowling Green, Ohio TBA
TBD Marathon MAC Championship Game Detroit, Michigan TBA
- Mid-American Conference Game
Home games in BOLD, ALL CAPS.
NOTE: Kickoff times and additional television to be announced at a later date.