Northern Illinois (0-0) at Iowa (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, August 31, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kinnick Stadium (70,585) -- Iowa City, Iowa. Television:
ACC Network. Home Record: NIU 0-0, Iowa 0-0. Away Record: NIU 0-0, Iowa 0-0.
Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, Iowa 0-0. Conference Record: NIU 0-0, Iowa 0-0.
Series Record: Iowa leads, 8-0.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Illinois Huskies hope to avenge their only regular
season loss of the 2012 season as they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick
Stadium to begin the 2013 campaign.
Rod Carey will begin his first season at the helm of the Huskies program after
taking over last year just prior to the team's Orange Bowl loss to Florida
State. After falling to Iowa, 18-17, in its season opener, NIU won 12
consecutive games to earn a spot in a BCS bowl for the first time in school
history. Carey had no head coaching experience prior to the setback to the
Seminoles. He was in his first year as the team's offensive coordinator before
receiving the promotion. It has won its last eight true road contests entering
the 2013 campaign and is also the two-time defending MAC Champion.
Iowa's victory in 2013 over NIU marked its eighth win over the Huskies in as
Despite being the only team to defeat NIU in the regular season, Iowa had a
poor season overall, finishing with a 4-8 record. The Hawkeyes ended 2012 on a
six-game losing streak. Coach Kirk Ferentz has compiled a 100-74 record with
the program over 16 seasons and is 112-95 overall. He led Iowa to a bowl game
in 10 of the previous 11 seasons before last season's sub .500 finish.
NIU was an unstoppable unit in 2012 due to its tremendous attack, which ranked
20th among 120 FBS programs in total offense with 469.6 yards per game and
13th in scoring offense at 38.6 ppg.
Jordan Lynch was the leader of the team throughout its run. He was named a
Second-Team All-American and MAC Player of the Year after he completed 62.9
percent of his passes for 3,138 yards and 25 touchdowns against just six
interceptions. The 6-foot junior also placed seventh in the nation in rushing
(1,815 yards), averaging 6.5 yards per carry with another 19 touchdowns, which
had many thinking he was worthy of an invitation to the Heisman Trophy
Junior wideout Tommylee Lewis is the leading receiver among returners in
receptions (48), yards (539) and touchdowns (five), but his 5-7, 155-pound
frame is usually lined up in the slot. Junior tight end Luke Eakes brings big
play potential to the table and should see more passes come his way during red
zone trips. Da'Ron Brown could be the top candidate to replace Martel Moore as
the most targeted wideout.
Senior halfback Akeem Daniels is an asset out of the backfield. He showed he
can be an every down back by surpassing the 100-yard mark in the regular
season finale and MAC Championship. He scored four of his nine rushing TDs
against Kent State in Detroit.
The Huskies were a complete team last season. In addition to their great
offensive performance, they also ranked second in the MAC in scoring defense
and third in total defense with allowed averages of 19.8 points and 369.3
yards per contest. NIU will have trouble frustrating the opposition as
frequently this season with seven new starters on the defensive side of the
The leader of the defense is going to be All-MAC safety Jimmy Ward, who paced
the team with 104 total stops in 2012. He also deflected 11 passes and
recorded a team-high three interceptions. Senior end Joe Windsor wasn't listed
as a starter last year, but he was a part of the rotation and finished third
on the squad in sacks with seven and also tied for second in tackles for loss
Iowa did not have as settled a quarterback situation heading into the
offseason, but sophomore Jake Ruddock emerged as the team's best option during
fall camp. He will replace a two-year starter in James Vandenberg, who led the
Hawkeyes to just the 111th best scoring offense (19.3 ppg) and 114th total
offense (310.4 ypg) last year. Ruddock has yet to attempt a single pass
heading into his first start.
The Hawkeyes' rushing game employs the services of both fullback Mark Weisman
and tailback Damon Bullock. Weisman powered his way to a team-best 815 yards
on eight touchdowns on 159 rushes last year and Bullock gained 513 yards and
scored on three of his 135 carries.
Kevonte Martin-Manley headlines the pass-catching unit after recording a team-
high 52 receptions for 571 yards last year as a sophomore. Senior tight end
C.J. Fiedorowicz (45 rec, 433 yds) is also a reliable option for Ruddock.
Iowa's defense returns eight starters from the squad that finished 49th in the
nation in total yards allowed per game (381.6) and 33rd in points allowed per
Senior middle linebacker James Morris (113 tackles, 9.0 TFL), a four-year
starter, is the unquestioned leader of the defense after consecutive All-Big
Ten seasons. Also back are leading tackler Anthony Hitchens (124 tackles) and
Christian Kirksey (95 tackles, 2 INT) on the outside.
Iowa's defense matches up very well against the Lynch-led Huskies, which is
why it was one of just two teams to slow down NIU last year. The Hawkeyes have
to come up with a few big plays and also need their new quarterback to limit
turnovers to keep their undefeated record against NIU intact. Lynch will be
out for revenge, but he will need to submit a very strong showing to make up
for the Huskies' defense, which could have trouble with the Hawkeyes' thunder
and lighting rushing combination.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Illinois 28, Iowa 24
08/28 10:41:57 ET
Powered by The Sports Network.