Six home games and a full non-conference slate featuring Georgia Tech, Wyoming, Michigan and Maine highlight the 2021 Northern Illinois University football schedule released Friday by NIU and the Mid-American Conference.
After playing just six games – five against MAC West Division opponents and one crossover game – a year ago, third-year head coach Thomas Hammock liked the overall make-up of the complete 12-game slate.
“We are certainly excited about getting back to a regular-season where you have the ability to play some quality non-conference opponents and build from that into the conference schedule,” Hammock said. “I like the way the schedule fell. It’s a very balanced schedule in terms of home and away games, and the East and West Division opponents are divided throughout the schedule.”
NIU begins its 119th season of intercollegiate football on Saturday, September 4 at Georgia Tech in the first meeting between the teams, and the Huskies’ first game versus an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent since 2018 (Florida State). On September 11, NIU welcomes Wyoming to Huskie Stadium for the 2021 season opener to close out a home-and-home series. In 2016, NIU lost a triple-overtime thriller to the Cowboys in Laramie, 40-34, in the only previous meeting.
On September 18, the Huskies will play Michigan for just the second time in school history. NIU lost the 2005 season opener to the Wolverines, 33-17, in a game that Hammock, then an assistant on head coach Joe Novak’s staff, remembers well.
NIU finishes out its non-conference slate on September 25 at home versus Maine, another first-time opponent, before opening MAC play by hosting Eastern Michigan on October 2. The Huskies travel to Toledo to take on the Rockets on October 9 and play host to Bowling Green a week later (October 16). The game at Central Michigan on October 23 (Homecoming-tentative) is the final Saturday contest of the season before #MACtion gets underway in November.
The Huskies play at Kent State for the first time since 2016 on Wednesday, November 3 and return home to face Ball State on Wednesday, November 10 in the annual Battle for the Bronze Stalk. NIU goes to Buffalo for a November 17 contest versus the Bulls and closes out the 2021 regular season at home on Tuesday, November 23 when Western Michigan comes to town.