NORMAL — The Illinois State football team has completed its schedules for the next two seasons with the addition of a 2019 game against Northern Illinois in DeKalb.
Northern Illinois is a Bowl Subdivision program that competes in the Mid-American Conference.
“A lot of Redbird fans will be interested in going to that game,” ISU director of athletics Larry Lyons said Friday.
The Redbirds will receive a monetary guarantee of $335,000 for playing at Northern Illinois. Other nonconference games set for 2019 are Northern Arizona for a home game at Hancock Stadium and a road matchup against Eastern Illinois.
ISU and Northern will play in the 2019 season opener. It has not been decided if that game will take place on a Thursday or Saturday, according to Lyons.
The 2018 nonconference schedule was previously finalized with a trip to FBS entry Colorado State and home games against St. Xavier and Eastern Illinois. The Colorado State contest will net ISU a guarantee of $375,000.
ISU coach Brock Spack is happy to secure an FBS game within the state.
“It's really nice being that close to home. That has been a very good program over the years,” said Spack. “It's good for both schools. Our fans in Chicagoland, the Rockford area and Wisconsin, it will be a little easier for those folks to get there. That game should be well attended.”
Northern head coach Rod Carey was the offensive line coach at ISU in 2007 under former Redbirds coach Denver Johnson.
“I know Coach Carey a little bit,” Spack said. “The first day I went out recruiting here at ISU, I went to Milwaukee to see (defensive back) Ben Ericksen. I ran into Rod there. He was at North Dakota at the time. He was a very nice guy.”
The Redbirds' last trip to Huskie Stadium in DeKalb did not go well at all. Northern crushed ISU, 52-0, in 2000.
Lyons added ISU has resumed contacting Big Ten Conference teams because of a recent relaxing of a league policy to not schedule FCS opponents.
“We are reaching out to see if there are some windows that work for us as well,” Lyons said.