MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -- As Western Illinois football coach Bob Nielson sees it - to be the best, you've got to play the best.
If the 2014 schedule is any indication the Leathernecks certainly don't lack for difficult opponents.
Nielson and his staff released the fall docket on Thursday morning and it begins under the lights Thursday August 28 against Valparaiso, before trips to Wisconsin and Northwestern in September, mixed in with a home game against Drake.
Later that month, conference play kicks off at Southern Illinois followed by a visit from defending national champ North Dakota State.
"The better schedule you play the better you are prepared for the high level of performance that you need week-in and week-out during a playoff run," Nielson said.
"Certainly this is going to challenge our program, and in the state of rebuilding that we are, but I know that we have a lot of young players in our program right now that are very excited about the opportunity to play the best teams in the country. If you want to be one of the best teams in the country, you need to play the best teams in the country."
The eight-game slate in the Missouri Valley Football Conference concludes with a home game against Indiana State on November 22.
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