Iowa City, Ia. — Clouds are starting to break up at Kinnick, with sun breaking through on occasion, and the Iowa Marching Band has been on the turf for their final warmups.
Ushers are in place at the gates.
It’s about time for Iowa vs. Northern Iowa (11 a.m. kickoff, Big Ten Network). Follow our live coverage here…
10:20 a.m. update:Redshirt freshman Josey Jewell injured a hand in practice this week and will not play against Northern Iowa. It’s unclear how long Jewell, from Decorah, will be out. He was listed on the depth start as a co-starter along with Reggie Spearman at weakside linebacker.
Honoring Norm:Iowa players are wearing a “Norm” decal in their helmets this season in honor of Norm Parker, Iowa’s longtime defensive coordinator who passed away in January.
Traffic tip: If you’re coming to Kinnick, one suggestion: Take Highway 6 to the stadium. No delays whatsoever. As far as Interstate 80 goes, it’s close to bumper to bumper until you take an exit.
9:45 p.m. update: Iowa officials said this morning plenty of tickets are available for today’s football season opener against Northern Iowa. That extends a streak of nine consecutive games at Kinnick Stadium without a sellout. The Hawkeyes owned a string of 30 consecutive sellouts until Nov. 23, 2012, which ended as a 13-7 loss to Nebraska. None of last year’s seven homes dates were sold out, despite an 8-4 record in the regular season. The last time Iowa and UNI played, on Sept. 15, 2012, a capacity crowd of 70,585 attended.
Now here is a little pregame primer with some of our game-week coverage and videos included:
Iowa’s biggest advantage today is…Experience at several key positions. Namely the offensive and defensive lines. The running back position has depth again, and quarterback Jake Rudock will be more effective with a season of experience to lean on. If it rains during the game, look for the Hawkeyes to rely on power football instead of finesse. The improved passing game might stay on the shelf for another week. The Hawkeyes also know Northern Iowa represents an in-state rival and an FCS opponent with bite.
What could be their undoing? The secondary. If Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen can take advantage of Iowa’s new-look secondary, watch out. Sophomore Greg Mabin will be making his first start at left corner. Last spring, he went to the coaches and asked to be moved to receiver. Mabin was convinced to stay in the secondary, and now he’s beat out Sean Draper and Maurice Fleming for the job. And keep an eye on free safety Jordan Lomax, who started at right corner in the 2013 season opener against Northern Illinois.
Who should we be talking about but aren’t? Macon Plewa. The junior fullback saw significant action last season, but he heads into today’s opener making his first career start after Adam Cox was lost for the season with a knee injury. Fullback is the biggest under-the-radar position on offense, but one of the most important because of the blocking responsibilities. Plewa’s ability to seal his defender will speak volumes to the success the offense has today.
Final prediction: Iowa’s experience at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball will be the deciding factor. Iowa 24, Northern Iowa 13.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football