MAC announces NIU conference opponents for 2024 season

NIU’s Vice President and Director of athletics and Recreation, right, hugs NIU head coach Thomas Hammock after taking the win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday Oct. 21, 2023, held at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.

The NIU football team will host Toledo, Akron, Central Michigan and Buffalo in 2024, the Mid-American Conference announced Thursday. NIU will play road games against Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Miami and Ball State in 2024 as well.

The league released home and road opponents for each team for the 2024 season, the first season the MAC will go without a two-division format. Instead, the league is going to pods of three teams. The Huskies will play Toledo and Bowling Green every year.

“The MAC is a competitive conference year in and year out, and you have to play your best football to win in this league,” NIU head coach Thomas Hammock said in a statement. “It’s good to have this piece of the puzzle in terms of who we’re playing and where. Now, we’re looking forward to seeing how the full schedule lays out when that comes out next month.”

Exact dates for the Huskies’ 2024 conference schedule will be released at the end of February. NIU’s nonconference schedule for 2024 begins Aug. 31 when the Huskies take on Western Illinois at Huskie Stadium. NIU will play Notre Dame in South Bend for the first time in school history Sept. 7 and will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina, to face N.C. State and former Huskies coach Dave Doeren on Sept. 28. NIU also will play Massachusetts on Oct. 4 in nonconference play.

“In the MAC, you never know which teams are going to be at the top,” Hammock said. “Overall, there is a lot of balance, and I think that’s why this new scheduling model works. Next year will be new for everyone with the pods. Obviously, Toledo and Bowling Green already have a rivalry, so we’re excited to become a part of that and know that those teams will be on our schedule every year.”

The new scheduling format ensures that each MAC team faces all 11 conference opponents home and away at least once during a three-year cycle.

The league also announced 2025 and 2026 conference opponents. NIU will host Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Ohio and Miami in 2025. They’ll have road games against Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Kent State and Buffalo.

In 2026, NIU will host Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Kent State and Ball State. They’ll head to Central Michigan, Bowling Green, Akron and Ohio.

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