Football announces 2014 schedule
By HEATHER KENNEDY
GREELEY – As the Northern Colorado football team waits for spring ball to start in three weeks, their 2014 schedule has been solidified. The Bears will play an 11-game schedule with five home contests.
Tickets for home games start at just $60 and season ticket packages will go on sale in April. Spring football begins on March 25 and culminates with the annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 26.
The season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 6 at UNLV and the Bears play three of their first four contests on the road with the home opener on Sept. 13 against Houston Baptist. It will be the second game in the series against the Rebels as the two teams met in 1979 – a 35-31 victory for UNLV in Las Vegas. Houston Baptist recorded a 3-4 record in its first season of Division I football and 2014 starts a home-and-home series between the clubs.
"With the set-up of our schedule and the Division II rule about teams not playing before September 1, we don't have that early game so we will see where we are right away opening up at UNLV," Head Coach Earnest Collins Jr., said. "We open up at home against Houston Baptist, which is a great test for us because they're a young program."
Week three wraps up a home-and-home series with Northern Iowa as the Bears travel to Cedar Falls for the fourth game in the all-time series. The Panthers finished last year 7-5 overall and three of their five losses were in overtime. In 2013, Northern Iowa defeated the Bears 26-7 in Greeley.
"We have a tough task with Northern Iowa," Collins said. "I've heard it's an extremely difficult place to play but the mentality of this team is difference and they look forward to tough places and tough opponents."
The Big Sky Conference opener happens the following week at Montana. The two teams met the first six years the Bears were in the league but skipped 2013. The Grizzlies are coming off a 10-3 season where they lost in the FCS quarterfinals.
The Bears return home for back-to-back home games against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State on Oct. 4 and 11, respectively. The Lumberjacks also advanced to the NCAA Playoffs last season, falling in the first round to South Dakota State, while the Hornets finished 5-7. The contest against Northern Arizona is Homecoming as well as Community Fest.
After a trip to face NCAA Semifinalist Eastern Washington on Oct. 18, the Bears return to Nottingham Field to host Idaho State on Oct. 25. Northern Colorado hasn't played the Eagles since 2011, while 2014 marks the 31st time the Bears and Bengals will meet on the gridiron.
As the calendar turns to November, the Bears head to California to meet up with UC Davis. The two former Great West Conference foes renewed the series in 2013 and square off for the seventh time in 2014.
Coming off a bye week, the Bears head back out on the road for a meeting with Weber State on Nov. 15. Northern Colorado won the last meeting, a 42-34 decision in 2012 in Ogden.
The season finale features rival North Dakota on Nov. 22. The squads are dead-locked 13-13 in the all-time series and since UND joined the Big Sky Conference in 2011, the three games have been decided by a total of six points.
"I've said it before and it continues to be true," Collins said. "The Big Sky Conference is like the SEC of the FCS. Week in and week out you are tested and playing one of the top teams in the nation."
Game times and television announcements will be announced at a later date.
2014 Football Schedule
Sept. 6 at UNLV
Sept. 13 Houston Baptist
Sept. 20 at Northern Iowa
Sept. 27 *at Montana
Oct. 4 *Northern Arizona (Homecoming)
Oct. 11 *Sacramento State
Oct. 18 *at Eastern Washington
Oct. 25 *Idaho State
Nov. 1 *at UC Davis
Nov. 8 BYE Week
Nov. 15 *at Weber State
Nov. 22 *North Dakota