Per NIU Athletics Press Release:
NIU’S 2021 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FEATURES SIX HOME GAMES
Huskies Open 2021 Season at Georgia Tech, Take on Michigan, Wyoming and Maine
DeKALB, Ill. – 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.
“The last time we went to Michigan, I have a great memory of [Huskie Hall of Famer] Garrett Wolfe running down the sideline [for a 76-yard touchdown]; he had a fantastic day on a national stage,” Hammock said. “It’s great that our young players who didn’t have an opportunity to have that experience of playing in a place like Michigan Stadium in 2020 will have the chance to do that this year. Anytime you go on the road to play a team like Michigan or Georgia Tech, it’s going to be an extremely physical, tough game and you have to play your best football to come out with a win.”
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 is the final Saturday contest of the season before #MACtion gets underway in November.
“In looking at the MAC schedule, we understand division games are very important and we come out of the gate with two division games so we will want to get off to a good start in the MAC,” Hammock said. “Then you want to stay healthy, build momentum, get better each week and play your best football down the stretch 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.
“We’re looking forward to having people back in the stands next season and I hope the Huskie fans feel the same way,” Hammock said. “We’ve got six home games, four in September and October, and some of our players haven’t experienced a Huskie Stadium crowd.”
The Huskies open spring practices on March 19. Fan attendance policies for spring will be announced prior to practices. Complete 2021 season ticket and Huskie Athletic Fund renewal information and deadlines will be communicated as soon as details are finalized.