Maryland’s no stranger to scheduling games far in advance of when they’ll actually occur. The athletic department scheduled games against Texas for 2017 back in 2010, after all. Now their football steam stands to become the first Big Ten team to ever play at Northern Illinois in football. That is, if no one does it between now and 2020 to 2021. Per ESPN:
Maryland, NIU schedule home/home series, source told @ESPN. 2020 at Md, 2021 at NIU; 1st B1G team to visit NIU
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) August 1, 2014
Northern Illinois may not seem like much, but they’re actually one of the better programs outside of the big time conferences. They’ve produced players like Larry English of the San Diego Chargers, Sam Hurd of the Dallas Cowboys, and ten-year veteran Ryan Diem of the Indianapolis Colts, among others. Northern Illinois, it can be argued, has been a power in the 2000’s so far. They did, after all, beat Maryland in 2003 but we are not going to be talking about that in this post.
They played Florida State in the 2012 Orange Bowl, Fresno State in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl, Texas Christian in the 2006 Poinsettia Bowl, among others. Since 2004, they’ve made it to eight (of a possible ten) bowl games and have gone to six straight. And yes, that’s literally better than Maryland has done. Granted both their star coaches Jerry Kill (now at Minnesota) and Dave Doeren (now at NC State) will be long gone when Maryland plays them, Northern Illinois will still be around. And they beat Maryland before.
This should be a fantastic series, but I won’t pretend like 2021 isn’t going to be a potential trap game six years down the road. Maryland will definitely get a chance to have a lot of recruits from the Midwest see them play in a state with decent talent to draw from, but man, Northern Illinois can be sneaky good. As Maryland found out in 2003.
Last year, Northern Illinois went 12-2 under Rod Carey. Revenge comes in 2020.