Turpin Stadium will be a busy place in the early part of the 2020 college football season.
The Northwestern State football team released its 2020 schedule Thursday, a slate that features three of the first four games at home, including back-to-back Southland Conference games to open the season.
“It is exciting for our fans to have three opportunities to watch the Demons during the first month of the season, including a Thursday night opener, which is always popular in advance of Labor Day weekend,” longtime NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke said. “Also exciting is the ability to sign a home-and-home contract with a regional FCS member in Prairie View A&M. Plans are in progress to finalize more of those type of agreements.”
The Demons kick off the 2020 season Sept. 3 against UIW, the first of two home conference games in a nine-day span.
Following NSU’s first home Thursday night season opener since 2015, the Demons host Nicholls on Sept. 12 in the first of four Saturday home games on the schedule.
Northwestern State’s first road trip takes the Demons to Tulsa on Sept. 19 for the first meeting with the Golden Hurricane since 1983. The Demons’ other non-conference game among its 11-game slate comes Oct. 3 at Prairie View A&M, the first matchup in a home-and-home series the Panthers will return in 2024.
The series with the Panthers follows a blueprint Burke resumed in 2017 when the Demons began a two-season, home-and-home series with Grambling. That continued in 2019 with the season opener at UT Martin, part of an agreement that brings the Skyhawks to Natchitoches in 2021.
“We made a decision four seasons ago to limit the number of FBS games for our program to one per season, which would provide better competitive opportunities for the team,” Burke said. “To that end, it is exciting to be playing at Tulsa for just the second time ever.”
The Oct. 3 visit to Prairie View A&M gives the Demons a chance to visit the greater Houston area, which has produced a number of Northwestern State football players throughout the program’s history.
“Those trips, like that and the ones to Stephen F. Austin and Lamar, it may be the only chance some people have to watch Northwestern State play (in person),” second-year head coach Brad Laird said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to get out and go to them.”
Northwestern State’s nine-game Southland Conference schedule includes five home games – three of which come in September.
Following NSU’s two-game, season-opening homestand against UIW and Nicholls, the Demons host Houston Baptist on Sept. 26 to close out the three September home games.
“When you look at the schedule, that’s the thing that jumps out,” Laird said. “To be here at Turpin Stadium on a Thursday to open the season and to have three of our first four games at home, we’re excited about that.”
The early flurry of home games means the Demons will play at home just once each in October and November.
Northwestern State hosts Sam Houston State on Oct. 17 before enjoying its open date. Following that break, the Demons play consecutive road games at Central Arkansas (Oct. 31) and at Lamar (Nov. 7) before returning to Turpin Stadium for their home finale against McNeese on Nov. 14.
Five days later, Northwestern State concludes its season in the Battle for Chief Caddo at Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 19 in Nacogdoches, Texas.
2020 Northwestern State Football Schedule
Sept. 3 UIW* Natchitoches 6 p.m.
Sept. 12 Nicholls* Natchitoches 6 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Tulsa Tulsa, Oklahoma TBA
Sept. 26 Houston Baptist* Natchitoches 6 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Prairie View A&M Prairie View, Texas TBA
Oct. 10 at Southeastern Louisiana* Hammond TBA
Oct. 17 Sam Houston State* Natchitoches 6 p.m.
Oct. 24 OPEN DATE
Oct. 31 at Central Arkansas* Conway, Arkansas TBA
Nov. 7 at Lamar* Beaumont, Texas TBA
Nov. 14 McNeese* Natchitoches TBA
Nov. 19 at Stephen F. Austin* Nacogdoches, Texas TBA
- denotes Southland Conference game
Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services