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Northwestern completes '15, '16 schedules

5/22/2012

Northwestern has announced its complete schedules for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, which includes one change to the 2015 nonconference slate.

The Wildcats will play home-and-home series with Stanford and Duke in both seasons. A scheduled 2015 game against Army has been replaced with a home date against Eastern Illinois. Northwestern will also play Ball State in 2015 and Western Michigan and Illinois State as part of the 2016 nonconference schedule.

While Army likely would have been a more interesting game than Eastern Illinois, the Wildcats appear to have a sound strategy in their nonconference scheduling. They're playing one really good BCS opponent (even though there might not be such a thing as BCS in 2015) in Stanford, another major-conference foe but a winnable game in Duke and then two games against lower-level competition.

This year's schedule, which opens with Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College in successive weeks, is probably a bit too ambitious. Sure, none of those teams is an elite-caliber opponent, but all are major-conference teams that will provide difficult games. Since Northwestern has been hovering around the 6-6 or 7-5 mark the past two years, it makes little sense to build so many obstacles in the pre-conference portion of the schedule. And by 2015, seven wins may be the requirement to reach a bowl game.

Here are the complete 2015 and 2016 schedules for the Wildcats:

2015

Sept. 5 vs. Stanford

Sept. 12 vs. Eastern Illinois

Sept. 19 at Duke

Sept. 26 vs. Ball State

Oct. 3 at Iowa

Oct. 10 vs. Minnesota

Oct. 17 at Nebraska

Oct. 24 Open Date

Oct. 31 vs. Purdue

Nov. 7 at Indiana

Nov. 14 vs. Michigan

Nov. 21 vs. Michigan State

Nov. 28 at Illinois

2016

Sept. 3 vs. Western Michigan

Sept. 10 vs. Illinois State

Sept. 17 vs. Duke

Sept. 24 at Stanford

Oct. 1 vs. Nebraska

Oct. 8 at Purdue

Oct. 15 at Michigan

Oct. 22 vs. Iowa

Oct. 29 at Minnesota

Nov. 5 Open Date

Nov. 12 vs. Indiana

Nov. 19 at Michigan State

Nov. 26 vs. Illinois