For the second straight season, the Youngstown State football team will play seven games at Stambaugh Stadium the Athletic Department announced on Tuesday. The season gets off to a fast start with three consecutive home contests in the month of September after playing the opener at Illinois.
The Penguins have home games against Duquesne (Sept. 6), Butler (Sept. 13), Saint Francis U (Sept. 20), Western Illinois (Oct. 11), Southern Illinois (Oct. 18), South Dakota (Nov. 1) and Indiana State (Nov. 15).
YSU opens the season on the road making its first-ever visit to Illinois on Aug. 30. The Guins play conference road games at Missouri State, South Dakota State, Illinois State and North Dakota State.
The contest against the Illini marks the seventh time in nine seasons the Penguins will play a foe from the Big Ten Conference. The visit to Memorial Stadium will mark a return visit for Head Coach Eric Wolford and assistant coach Tom Sims. Wolford and Sims were assistants with the program in 2007-08.
Illinois was 4-8 last season, but two losses were by a touchdown or less. The Fighting Illini opened the campaign by winning three of its first four contests and is under the direction of third-year coach Tim Beckman.
The Penguins will play Duquesne at home for the second straight season. YSU defeated the Dukes 59-17 on Sept. 21 at Stambaugh Stadium. The victory was a springboard for the Guins to go on a six-game winning streak last season. Duquesne finished the season 7-4 overall and tied for the Northeast Conference title with a 4-2 mark. The Dukes won six of their final eight games in 2013.
Butler, which won the Pioneer Football League and made its first-ever FCS playoff appearance, returns to Youngstown for the second time. The Bulldogs visited Stambaugh Stadium in 2010, Coach Wolford's first season. YSU won that contest 35-7. In 2013, the Bulldogs won seven of their last nine contests and finished 9-4 on the campaign.
The final non-conference game is against Saint Francis (Pa.). YSU has won all five games in the series, including a 49-23 win at Stambaugh Stadium in 2011. The Red Flash were 5-6 in 2013 and were 3-3 in Northeast Conference play. Two of SFU's losses last year were by four points or less.
Following an off Saturday on Sept. 27, the Penguins embark on Missouri Valley Football Conference play on Oct. 4 at Missouri State. YSU has not played the Bears since November 2011 and has not been to Springfield, Mo., since 2010. The Guins will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak in the series and have not beaten the Bears since 2007.
Because of a schedule quirk, Western Illinois will visit YSU in consecutive years for the first time. YSU won 24-14 at Stambaugh Stadium last October and has now won nine of the last 10 contests against the Leathernecks to take an 18-11 series lead.
The next week features a contest against Southern Illinois at Stambaugh Stadium. YSU rallied from down 27-14 in the fourth quarter to win at SIU 28-27 this past season. The Guins own a 13-11-1 all-time series lead against the Salukis.
After the SIU contest, the Penguins play three of their final five games on the road starting at South Dakota State. The Guins have dropped six straight in the series and will be looking to snap the streak against the 2013 FCS playoff foe.
The Penguins return to Stambaugh Stadium to face South Dakota on Nov. 1. Both games with the Coyotes have been close since they joined the conference in 2012. YSU won 13-10 at Stambaugh Stadium in 2012 and rallied for a thrilling 38-34 win at USD last season.
YSU will make its second trip to Illinois to take on Illinois State on Nov. 8 in new-look Hancock Stadium. The Penguins had an impressive 59-21 win at Stambaugh Stadium last year, but Illinois State was a perfect 5-0 at home in 2013.
Senior Day will take place against Indiana State for the third time in five seasons. YSU has won the last two meetings against the Sycamores, including a 35-24 win in Terre Haute last year. The Penguins own a 20-3 advantage in the all-time series.
To conclude the regular season, YSU visits three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. The Penguins are one of just two schools to beat the Bison in the past three years, with that win coming at the Fargodome in 2011. NDSU has won the most recent two meetings. It will be the Guins' third trip to Fargo in the past four years.
Also of note, YSU will not play UNI in the regular season for the first time since 1995.
Season tickets are available by calling the YSU Athletic Ticket Office at (330) 941-1978.