A generation ago an announcement of a game between Northwestern and Northern Illinois would have drawn a collective yawn. Times have changed as have the respective fortunes of both teams.
It was revealed Tuesday that the Wildcats and Huskies will square off in Evanston on Sept. 6th, 2014. It will be the first meeting of the two teams since September 2005 when the Wildcats held off NIU 38-37.
Both schools are enjoying unprecedented success in football with Northwestern currently ranked 16th while NIU has won two straight Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships and last year played in the Orange Bowl.
"This is a truly exciting time for Chicago's Big Ten Team as we continue to upgrade our nonconference football schedule," Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips said in a statement. "Both (Coach) Pat Fitzgerald and I have said repeatedly that Northwestern is committed to challenging itself in nonconference play, in addition to the always rigorous Big Ten slate. We're excited to add the two-time defending MAC champions and 2013 Orange Bowl participants, and in-state program that I have the deepest respect and admiration for, to a list of future opponents that already includes teams such as California, Notre Dame and Stanford. There has never been a better time to be a Wildcats football fan."
Phillips served as NIU Athletic Director from 2004 until 2008 when he took over the Northwestern athletic program.
In addition to Northern Illinois, the Wildcats are scheduled to host California and Western Illinois in 2014 along with Big Ten schools Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan and Illinois.
The Wildcats are off this week on their scheduled bye week. On Oct. 5, they will host No. 4 Ohio State in a primetime matchup at Ryan Field
— Daniel I. Dorfman, for Patch.com