Director of athletics Greg Burke and head football coach Jay Thomas announced the 12-game slate, which kicks off with a Thursday night, Aug. 28 home game against Missouri State.
Other homefield opponents include 2013 FCS playoff entries Sam Houston State (Oct. 18) and McNeese State (Nov. 1), and two other Southland Conference visitors, new member Incarnate Word (Oct. 11) and in-state rival Nicholls State (Nov. 15).
The Demons went 5-1 at Turpin Stadium last year, including winning three times in November to post their best record since 2008, 6-6, in their first year under Thomas.
NSU will visit three 2013 conference champions: the Big XII Conference’s Baylor Bears on Sept. 6, the Southwestern Athletic Conference titlelist Southern Jaguars a week later, and the Southland Conference winner, Southeastern Louisiana’s Lions, to open league play on Oct. 4.
"There are many reasons for Demon fans to be excited about the 2014 schedule, beginning with a Thursday night home opener against a quality FCS opponent in Missouri State of the Gateway Conference," said Burke. “After the strong finish by our team last season, there’s great enthusiasm about the future of Demon football under Jay Thomas so I know Thursday night, Aug. 28 will be a great night to be in Turpin Stadium.
"The away games even have special appeal, especially the three against non-conference opponents. After playing in Baylor's new on-campus stadium in early September, in-state games at Southern and Louisiana Tech offer two great opportunities for our fan base to support the Demons on the road. We will have a nice allotment of tickets for those in-state games and tailgating events for NSU supporters at both locations," said Burke.
Thomas found lots to like about the upcoming schedule.
“It’s a well-balanced schedule with a variety of appealing non-conference games and two of the Southland Conference’s three playoff teams from last season, Sam Houston and McNeese, coming into Turpin Stadium. For our fans and especially the families of our players, it’s a very travel-friendly set of road games and hopefully that helps our cause seeing people wearing purple behind us in the stands away from home,” he said.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to open our season at home on Thursday night of Labor Day weekend against a quality opponent in Missouri State. They were the third-place team in as tough a conference as there is in the country and have a lot of talent coming back,” he said. “We were very proud of winning our 2013 opener up there.”
“Going to play against Baylor, the reigning Big XII Conference champions, in the second game in their new stadium is an exciting challenge. We go down to Baton Rouge to play at Southern, who won the SWAC last fall, and we head up to Ruston to play our oldest rival, Louisiana Tech, for the first time in 20 years,” said Thomas. “We will be well prepared for conference play, going against a very strong non-conference schedule.”
NSU’s visit to Louisiana Tech renews a 77-game series that dates back to 1907. The teams last met in 1994, a 38-28 Bulldogs win.
The Southland Conference opener at Southeastern caps a demanding string of four straight road games at Southern, Baylor, Louisiana Tech and SLU.
“We did a great job at home last season, but after winning at Missouri State, we weren’t as good on the road and we need to improve our approach,” said Thomas. “We made a big step forward last season going 5-1 at Turpin Stadium and for 2014 to be successful we’ll need to be a better away team.
“Our players love home games. The atmosphere is tremendous at tailgating and in our stadium with our band, our students, and our fans. The team really feeds off the energy and support and our kids played inspired football at Turpin Stadium. Hopefully we can find a way to generate that same intensity away from home,” he said.
Season tickets for the NSU home slate will go on sale in a few weeks.
After last season’s strong finish, Burke said he expects demand to rival last fall’s 140 percent year over year 2013 increase.
“We are so thankful for the support of our loyal fans and the buy-in from the new season ticket holders last year. They had a great time in and around Turpin Stadium. Our Demon Alley Tailgating Zone was so popular we had to expand it and now we have more spots to rent for 2014,” said Burke.