Football announces home-heavy 2013 schedule
By HEATHER KENNEDY
GREELEY -- Winners of its final three games of the 2012 season, the Northern Colorado football team has generated excitement in the community and, in hopes of keeping that momentum going, has announced a record seven home games for the 2013 season.
The Bears are also pleased to announce a home-and-home series with Houston Baptist beginning in 2014. The Huskies begin their first season of football in 2013.
Northern Colorado coach Earnest Collins Jr. and the Bears will play four of their first five games at Nottingham Field in 2013, beginning with Langston (Okla.) University on August 31. Langston is the only first-time opponent on Northern Colorado's 2013 docket, and the Bears will play several teams (Colorado State-Pueblo, Wyoming and Northern Iowa) that they haven't faced in the lifetime of any of their current student-athletes.
The Bears own an undefeated record (11-0-2) against CSU-Pueblo (Sept. 7), but the teams haven't met since playing every season from 1964 to 1976.
Northern Colorado will travel to Wyoming on Sept. 14 in its first meeting with the Cowboys since 1949, and the Bears will then return home to host Northern Iowa on Sept. 21. The Bears and Panthers played in 1925 and 1926, with NC winning 12-0 in 1926 after playing to a 3-3 tie in 1925.
The Big Sky Conference season will begin for Northern Colorado with a home game against Southern Utah on Sept. 28. The Bears and the Thunderbirds were both members of the Great West Conference for several years, and Northern Colorado owns a 2-1 advantage in the series that was last contested in 2005.
Northern Colorado will head to Sacramento State on Oct. 5, and that will be the Bears' second straight road game against the Hornets, who knocked off UNC 28-17 last season in a nonconference game.
The Bears will play at Idaho State the following week before hosting UC Davis on Oct. 19 on Friends & Family Weekend.
A season ago the Bears rolled to a 52-14 victory against Idaho State in a game that saw running back Tromaine Dennis rush for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Dennis' 178 yards were an NCAA Division I school record that lasted less than a season. He shattered his own mark with 222 yards in the Bears' finale against North Dakota.
A bye-week the following week turns the calendar to November, and the Bears will start the month with at home game Nov. 2 against Big Sky Conference tri-champion and NCAA playoff participant Montana State on Community Heroes Day.
On Nov. 9 Northern Colorado will face former NCC rival North Dakota in Grand Forks before traveling the following weekend to Northern Arizona (Nov. 16). Northern Colorado's regular season will conclude Nov. 23 with a home game against one of the other Big Sky tri-champions in Cal Poly.
For the first time in 2013 the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs will feature 24 teams, and those games begin Nov. 30.
Northern Colorado will return 39 letterwinners from its 2012 team that won four of its final home games, and the Bears are hoping that experience and a heavy home schedule will be help them be one of the 24 squads vying for the 2013 FCS national title.