Iowa (7-6 in 2011) vs. Northern Illinois (11-3 in 2011) at Soldier Field, Chicago, 2:32 p.m. (ESPNU)
Line: Iowa by 10
Series Record: Iowa leads 7-0
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This is the only game Iowa will play away from Kinnick Stadium until the middle of October, so the Hawkeyes have a decent shot at a 5-0 start if they can beat the Huskies. For Northern Illinois, taking down a Big Ten team in Chicago would be a major boost for the program.
Iowa’s running game vs. Northern Illinois’s defensive line. The Hawkeyes lost five running backs between the end of 2011 and the start of 2012, so the running game is a major concern entering the season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Iowa: WR Keenan Davis. With Marvin McNutt off to the NFL, it’s Davis’s time to be the No. 1 receiver. If he can come through with a breakout senior season, Davis and QB James Vandenberg could become the most dangerous duo in the Big Ten.
Northern Illinois: QB Jordan Lynch. Chandler Harnish broke 30 school records as a senior in 2011. Lynch, who is a running threat but a bit unproven as a passer, has huge shoes to fill.
FACTS & FIGURES
Northern Illinois has won two of its last five games against Big Ten opponents, beating Purdue in 2009 and Minnesota in 2010…Iowa has won 11 straight openers, including a 16-3 victory over the Huskies at Soldier Field five years ago…Northern Illinois has eight new starters on offense…The Hawkeyes have a new offensive coordinator, Greg Davis, and a new defensive coordinator, Phil Parker, after having the same two coaches at that spot for 13 straight seasons.