GAME 1: KINNICK STADIUM, 2:30 P.M.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS AT IOWA
RADIO: WOC 1420 AM
LINE: Iowa by 3
SERIES: Iowa 8-0
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Jake Rudock’s poise
The Iowa sophomore becomes the first Hawkeye quarterback since Ryan Driscoll in 1994 to make his collegiate debut as a starter at the position. Rudock fits the Hawkeye mold, he’s a pro-style quarterback who threw for more than 5,000 yards as a prep at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The steadiness of his play allowed him to emerge as the starter in a three-way race to replace James Vandenberg.
Jordan Lynch’s decisions
Northern Illinois’ senior quarterback has dominated with his skills in the read option, becoming the first player in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history to pass for more than 3,000 yards and run for more than 1,500 yards in a single season in 2012. The 6-foot, 216-pound senior from Chicago Mount Carmel had a hand in 50 plays of 25 yards or longer last season, an average of just over 3.5 per game.
Iowa’s ground game
With unusual depth at running back, a position led by the return of Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock, and a fairly experienced offensive line, expect the Hawkeyes to help ease a new starting quarterback into his role by trying to establish the run early. Bullock rushed for 150 yards on 30 carries against the Huskies last season, scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 23-yard run in the fourth quarter off of left tackle. They’ll be working against a Northern Illinois defense which graduated five players from its front seven in 2012.
Iowa’s team approach
Lynch made his starting debut against Iowa last season and the Hawkeyes held him to a season-low 173 yards of total offense. Lynch did rush for 119 yards on 18 carries, including a 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of an 18-17 loss to the Hawkeyes. Iowa used a team approach to limit Lynch to 6-of-16 passing. Don’t expect any gimmicks. The Hawkeyes will again attempt to make him one dimensional with solid execution.
Mike Meyer’s foot
The senior proved invaluable against the Huskies a year ago, keeping Iowa in the game with field goals of 34, 29, 22 and 50 yards at Soldier Field. Meyer, who also enters the game with an ongoing school record of 81 consecutive successful PAT attempts, is working with a new holder, punter Connor Kornbrath, this season.
— Steve Batterson
RETURNING 2012 STATISTICAL LEADERS
INTERCEPTIONS: Christian Kirksey 2, James Morris 1, B.J. Lowery 1, Tanner Miller 1
SACKS: Dominic Alvis 3, Christian Kirksey 2
TACKLES: Anthony Hitchens 124, James Morris 113, Christian Kirksey 95, Tanner Miller 69, B.J. Lowery 50
PUNT RETURNS: None returning
KICKOFF RETURNS: Jordan Cotton 19-536-28.2, Mark Weisman 1-11-11.0
INTERCEPTIONS: Jimmie Ward 3, Marlon Moore 2
SACKS: Joe Windsor 7, Anthony Wells 4
TACKLES: Jimmie Ward 104, Jamaal Bass 83, Ken Bishop 55, Marlon Moore 39, Dechane Durante 38
PUNT RETURNS: Angelo Sebastiano 17-107-6.3, Tommylee Lewis 5-79-15.8
KICKOFF RETURNS: Tommylee Lewis 24-589-24.5
IOWA QB JAKE RUDOCK VS. NORTHERN ILLINOIS DE JOE WINDSOR: Northern Illinois sacked Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg six times in last season’s opener in Chicago and it is likely that Windsor, who was second on the team last season with seven sacks, will lead an aggressive Huskies’ defense in attempting to rattle Iowa’s first-time starter behind center.
BY THE NUMBERS
5: Iowa has beaten a team which appeared in a BCS bowl in five of the last six seasons, including an 18-17 win over Orange Bowl participant Northern Illinois last season.
17: Iowa games decided by three points or less since 2009. The Hawkeyes have gone 7-10 in those games, including a 2-4 record last season.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“I’m not playing Jordan Lynch. I can’t get caught up in that. I need to play my own game, run the offense efficiently and do the things I need to do to put us in a position to be successful. That is the only thing I can concern myself with.’’ — Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock
Check out complete coverage from today’s game, including video interviews and stories.
Let’s talk Hawks
Check back later in the week as Steve Batterson hosts his weekly chat about all things Iowa.
Don Doxsie will grade Iowa’s performance from today’s game against Northern Illinois.