Feb. 11, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State and Northwestern have never met on the football field. That will all change Sept. 11, 2010, at Ryan Field, in Evanston, Ill., due to the signing of a one-game contract between the two schools.
The game against the Wildcats will mark the second-straight season that Illinois State will play a Big Ten Conference member, with the Redbirds travelling to Illinois Sept. 12, 2009. The game at Northwestern will be the 16th-straight Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent for Illinois State. Of the 16 FBS schools scheduled or played, six are Big Ten Conference members and four are from the Big 12 Conference.
"Ever since I've been here, we have explored different ways to play in the Chicagoland area," Illinois State head football coach Denver Johnson said. "We have talked about trying to move one of our home games to a venue in Chicago, or in the suburbs. We have talked about a lot of different scenarios that might allow us to take Illinois State football into Chicago. Northwestern is an opportunity for us to do that, plus it's an opportunity to play another Big Ten school and program that should generate a lot of local interest, both here and north of Interstate-80."
Northwestern has faced Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools in each of the last two seasons, and will play Southern Illinois in 2008. The Wildcats were defeated by New Hampshire, 34-17, in 2006.
With another non-conference game already scheduled against Eastern Illinois in 2010, and an eight-game Gateway Football Conference slate, the Redbirds are only one-game shy of completing the 2010 schedule.