Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After shuffling nonconference games to accommodate Miami (Ohio) and finalize the 2009 schedule, Northwestern is looking ahead to the future.
The team has released tentative schedules for 2010 and 2011, which thankfully appear to pack a bit more punch than this year's slate. Northwestern rivals Penn State for one of the softest non-league slates among BCS teams, with games against Towson, Eastern Michigan, Syracuse and Miami (Ohio).
Northwestern still needs a home game in 2010, but it will play:
at Vanderbilt (Sept. 4)
Illinois State (Sept. 11)
at Rice (Sept. 18)
In 2011, the Wildcats play:
at Boston College (Sept. 3)
Eastern Illinois (Sept. 10)
at Army (Sept. 17)
Rice (Nov. 26)
Upcoming contracts with Vanderbilt, Boston College and a likely improved Syracuse team give Northwestern a more attractive non-league slate, which could remedy the school's constant struggles with home attendance. The team's annual rivalry against Illinois has been shuffled around, with the 2011 game taking place Oct. 15, the earliest meeting in at least a decade.
Also, Northwestern finishes the 2011 season with home games against Michigan and Rice. The school wants to hold a home game at Wrigley Field if the field can accommodate football. If Northwestern gets the go-ahead, expect one of these contests to be played at The Friendly Confines.