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Northern Illinois to play at Notre Dame in football in 2024; Huskies and Irish have never met

Northern Illinois will play Notre Dame in football for the first time in program history when the Huskies visit South Bend, Ind., in 2024.

The game against the Irish on Sept. 7, 2024, was among a list of future nonconference opponents NIU announced Thursday. The Huskies also will play Kentucky for the first time on Sept. 24, 2022, in Lexington, Ky.

“The (College Football Playoff) has given us the road map,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier said in a news release. “They have sent the message that they want the entire body of work and it really does matter who you play and who you schedule. ...

“If you look at our last few years of nonconference competition, we’re arguably top five if not the toughest for Group of Five schools in the country. Now, we’ve got to win these games, we understand that. But if we win these games, these are good wins and good losses because at the end of the day, very few schools that look like NIU are playing that schedule.”

Thursday’s announcement also included five previously announced games — trips to Iowa (2020 and 2025), Maryland (2020) and Michigan (2021) and a home game against BYU (2020) — a home-and-home series against Massachusetts (2024 in DeKalb and 2025 at UMass) and home games against FCS programs Rhode Island (2020), Maine (2021), Eastern Illinois (2022), Southern Illinois (2023) and Illinois State (2026).

“We’ve got to take care of the state,” Frazier said in the release. “The first thing we do is reach out to the in-state FCS institutions. … Some of the best FCS programs reside right here and they’re very challenging. Folks are not knocking down the door to play these teams nationally, so we’re going to do that because we know we have a fan base in the state of Illinois that’s very prideful, that are going to travel to DeKalb … and see their team.”

NIU’s 2019 schedule — the first under coach Thomas Hammock — begins with an Aug. 31 home game against ISU before trips to Utah, Nebraska and Vanderbilt.

FUTURE NIU NONCONFERENCE OPPONENTS

2019

Aug. 31: Illinois State

Sept. 7: at Utah

Sept. 14: at Nebraska

Sept. 28: at Vanderbilt

2020

Sept. 5: Rhode Island

Sept. 12: at Maryland

Sept. 26: at Iowa

Oct. 24: BYU

2021

Sept. 18: at Michigan

Sept. 25: Maine

2022

Sept. 3: Eastern Illinois

Sept. 24: at Kentucky

2023

Sept. 9: Southern Illinois

2024

Sept. 7: at Notre Dame

Oct. 5: Massachusetts

2025

Sept. 13: at Iowa

Sept. 27: at Massachusetts

2026

Sept. 5: Illinois State

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