Football kicks off Saturday in Iowa City

Jordan Lynch
Jordan Lynch

Eight times, NIU and Iowa have taken to the gridiron in battle.

Eight times, the Hawkeyes have walked away victors – even if only by one point thanks to a lone touchdown scored with 2:15 to play last Sept. 1 at Soldier Field.

Coach Rod Carey, quarterback Jordan Lynch and the rest of the Huskie football team are ready to change history this weekend in Iowa City.

“Our guys are ready to hit somebody else, I can tell you that,” said Carey, coaching the Huskies for the first time in the regular season. “Any time you go through three weeks of padded practices where you’re bumping heads with the same guys is tough, and you want to go and hit somebody else.”

“The last game we played, we lost, and I know I’m speaking for our team: We have a bad taste in our mouth,” added Heisman Trophy candidate Lynch. “We’re excited to play Iowa.”

NIU opens the 2013 season at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, in Kinnick Stadium.

Discounted student tickets are available until 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, or when they sell out. Tickets for both the game and bus trip can be purchased online.

Saturday’s game also will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, 670 The Score and WLBK (1360 AM and 98.9 FM).

Rod Carey
Rod Carey

The two-time MAC champs have won 21 of their last 23 games, dating back to Oct. 1, 2011.

Northern Illinois finished the 2011 season on a nine-game winning streak and, after losing to Iowa in the 2012 season opener at Soldier Field in Chicago (18-17), the Huskies reeled off 12 straight wins before falling to Florida State in the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl.

“Because we were in the Orange Bowl, and because we’ve been around that type of environment, does that help us? You bet it does,” Carey said.

But “it sure doesn’t make you take it any less serious and play any different,” he added. “This is Iowa. I mean, they have awesome fans and a great college environment. They do their homework on their opponents.”

Cornerback Sean Evans said he and his teammates aren’t intimidated.

“Just being a Big Ten school, it’s got a lot of tradition, and with that comes a ton of fans and a ton of allegiance that they owe to Iowa,” Evans said. “With our preparation throughout practice and fall camp, we tried to make the environment of the practice match as beast as we could, with loud music and a crazy fast temp from our offense. We’re expecting a pretty loud, noisy game.”

So what will it take to win?

“You can’t turn the ball over, and the kicking game has to be good,” Carey said. “You have to do those two things really well.”

For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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