It’s routine for the Illinois State football team to face a NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team. Usually the contests take place at the FBS venue, however, a home-and-home deal signed between the two schools will bring Ball State to Hancock Stadium.
A member of the Mid-American Conference (West Division), Ball State will play the Redbirds in Normal in 2013. The Redbirds will head to Muncie, Indiana, in 2014 to complete the two-game series. Dates and times are not yet known.
Illinois State Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger believes the series with Ball State will bring national attention to the University and the football team.
“This is a meaningful series for the Redbird football program,” Zenger said. “This is another indicator of the prominence of Illinois State University and its football program within the national scope. As we continue to plan for the future of Illinois State football and Hancock Stadium, this is further evidence that we are on the right track.”
The Redbirds have not played an FBS opponent in Hancock Stadium since 1987, when Illinois State picked up a 20-6 win over Western Michigan. Ball State and the Redbirds have met 16 times previously, with Ball State owning an 11-5 lead in the series. The two teams last met in 1993.
“A game with Ball State at home will give us a lot of credibility when we are out trying to recruit quality student-athletes,” head coach Brock Spack said. “We are often competing for the same players in the Chicago area, the state of Illinois, and all throughout the Midwest with many of the MAC schools.”
Illinois State will play at Northwestern on Sept. 11, 2010, but does not have a game scheduled against an FBS opponent in 2011 or 2012. “The fact that we can get a quality FBS team like Ball State to come play us on our home field says a lot about our program and our administration. We are very excited about this opportunity and we hope the community will be as well,” Spack said.
Illinois State is 3-31 all-time against FBS opponents, with wins against Eastern Michigan (1981), Western Michigan (1987), and Akron (1991).
Find out more about the Redbird football program online at GoRedbirds.com.