Northwestern fills 2013 vacancy with WMU

Northwestern has acted quickly to fill one of its non-league schedule vacancies created by Vanderbilt's decision to back out of games in 2013 and 2014.

The Wildcats announced Friday that they will host Western Michigan on Sept. 14, 2013. They had been scheduled to play at Vanderbilt that day. Northwestern is still looking for a replacement for its 2014 home game against the Commodores, who also canceled a 2013 game against Ohio State this week.

Northwestern's 2013 non-league schedule is complete:

Aug. 31: at California

Sept. 7: Syracuse

Sept. 14: Western Michigan

Sept. 21: Maine

While some were hoping Northwestern would fill the Vanderbilt vacancy with another major-conference opponent -- or even a local game with Northern Illinois -- it can be difficult to match up schedules and contracts less than 11 months before the games. Northwestern AD Jim Phillips had to do something quickly after being put in a bad spot.

Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a statement that Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit "has been a great friend for a long time and he runs a very successful program we have the utmost respect for." Western Michigan faced two Big Ten squads this season, falling to both Illinois and Minnesota on the road.

The 2013 game marks the first-ever meeting between Northwestern and Western Michigan, who also will square off in the 2016 season opener.