You’ve probably heard about Jordan Lynch.
He throws (3,138 yards, 25 touchdowns in 2012). He runs (1,815 yards, 19 touchdowns). And he has a knack for seizing the moment (spearheading Northern Illinois’ run to the Mid-American Conference football title and a berth in the Orange Bowl).
The Huskies’ athletic department has even launched a homespun Heisman Trophy campaign in honor of their senior quarterback — sending voters a collapsible, foam lunchbox, symbolic of his blue-collar demeanor.
It may seem a little cheesy, but Lynch is approaching legendary status.
“I can tell you right now he’s better (than a year ago),” coach Rod Carey said. “I’m anxious to get him on the field, get him to the fight and see what he can do.”
Yeah, Iowa will have its hands full Saturday when Northern Illinois visits Kinnick Stadium for a 2:30 p.m. season opener.
But here’s the rub: If you treat Northern Illinois like a one-man gang, you’re likely to end up with indigestion.
No single player, not even Lynch, can propel a team to a 12-2 finish and No. 22 ranking.
So, it’s time to learn a little more about the supporting cast:
THE BULKY BOYS
The Huskies feature five returning starters on the offensive line, who average 6-feet-4, 296 pounds.
They’ll also have a chip on their shoulder after being manhandled in Miami, where Florida State held them to 259 total yards en route to a 31-10 victory.
“I know they’re not happy,” Carey said. “They got pushed around. Make no doubt about it. That left a bad taste in their mouth.”
The Hawkeyes will counter with a defensive front four that averages 6-4, 284 pounds.
This matchup will be Saturday’s most intriguing tussle.
Senior tailback Akeem Daniels tends to get lost in all the Lynch love.
“We’re used to it,” Daniels said. “It’s nothing new. It doesn’t get on our nerves.
“It’s actually good, because it gives us national exposure, and that’s great for the university.”
The 5-7, 184-pound Daniels averaged 6.6 yards per carry and 12.9 on 20 catches.
He reached the end zone 11 times.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock will make his Iowa debut against a Northern Illinois defense replacing seven starters.
Three returners, however, will be patrolling the passing lanes.
Cornerback Marlon Moore and safeties Dechane Durante and Jimmie Ward combined for six interceptions last fall.
“I’m not saying this because I’m a DB,” Moore explained, “but I think that is our strong position on defense.
“Everything relies on us at the end.”
Mathew Sims has been successful on 37 out of 50 career field goals (74 percent), including a long of 54 yards.
“He’s made a bunch of clutch kicks for us,” Carey said. “We’re looking forward to that, plus the consistency.”
Remember, kicking was crucial last year when Iowa beat the Huskies 18-17, thanks largely to Mike Meyer converting four out of five field goal tries.
Don’t be surprised if the Huskies arrive in Iowa City with a swagger.
Carey, in his first full season as coach, wanted Northern Illinois to keep its edge, so he laid down a few rules.
“We’re not allowed to wear any Orange Bowl stuff when we work out,” Daniels said. “It happened in the past.
“We’re moving on to Iowa. That’s all we’re focused on right now.”
If the Hawkeyes focus solely on Lynch, they’re in trouble.
Andrew Logue covers Hawkeye football and sports media for the Register. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewMLogue
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football