The Huskies against the Hawkeyes. that’s how this college football season will kickoff Saturday in Iowa City. Rod Carey will try to continue his amazing run of success against Big Ten competition.
It was 2013 when NIU led by Jordan Lynch went into Kinnick Stadium and beat the Hawkeyes in their opener 30-27. That was Rod Carey’s first win over a Big Ten opponent as NIU’s head coach. He’s looking forward to another trip back there.
“You’re going into Kinnick Stadium which I think in my estimation having been there before is one of the college football hidden gems to go play,” says Carey.”
Carey has had remarkable success facing Big Ten teams at NIU. His teams are 4-1 against the Big Ten. Just last season the Huskies went into Nebraska and got a win.
“I think Nebraska one gives us recall from a stadium perspective, an environment perspective,” says Carey on how that game helps the Huskies know what they’ll be getting into Saturday.
The NIU players embrace the chance to open against a Big Ten opponent.
“It’s going to be electric and just playing against a Big Ten opponent…you’ve always got to love playing against the Big Ten,” says defensive tackle Jack Heflin.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in that kind of venue,” says quarterback Marcus Childers. “Growing up I wanted to play the big-time schools and play like that so it’s going to be real fun to kind of see where we stack up as a team.”
For Carey it’s a chance to match wits again against one of the most respected coaches in the Big Ten Kirk Ferentz just as he did in 2013.
The Hawkeyes as always will be physical, but they also return quarterback Nate Stanley. He threw 26 touchdown passes last season.
“I think he’s special. I really do,” says Carey.
In the end it’s one team against another team in one season opener, but at the same time it’s also one Midwest Conference trying to one-up a bigger Midwest Conference.
“There’s always that element that it’s the MAC versus the Big Ten,” says Carey. “It’s unique and you always fly that flag for the MAC and I know they have a lot of confidence in the Big Ten too.”
Saturday’s game will kickoff at 2:30 central time.