Iowa's Damon Bullock runs for the winning touchdown against Northern Illinois last season.
The Iowa football team is coming off a four win season and most experts feel getting six wins and a bowl bid would be a major accomplishment. Iowa opens the season Saturday against Northern Illinois, who's ranked by Sports Illustrated and played in the Orange Bowl last season. Still, the Hawkeyes are three point favorites.
Iowa beat the Huskies 18-17 last season at Soldier Field in Chicago, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter to win, including a TD run by Damon Bullock with two minutes left.
Northern Illinois has won 21 of their last 23 games and return senior quarterback Jordan Lynch, who was seventh in the Heisman voting and all five offensive lineman.
Iowa QB Jake Rudock will start for the first time, but will face a defense that has seven new starters.
"The tables are turned a little bit," said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. "That was his first game and this year it's our turn to play a quarterback in their first game and he's a veteran player. That's one of the challenges. He throws it effectively for them and a lot of passing yards last year but equally as dangerous running, whether it's designed or not designed. It gets down to playing good team defense and playing fundamentally. Easier said than done. That's the challenge of playing a quarterback like him that can do so many things."
Iowa and Northern Illinois kickoff at 2:30 Saturday in Iowa City on the Big Ten Network.
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