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IOWA WEEK: Keys to victory for NIU

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Getting pressure on Vandenberg is key.
Getting pressure on Vandenberg is key.

Don't get behind early.

In the past two games against Iowa the Northern Illinois Huskies got behind the Hawkeyes 17-0 and 14-0 respectively. The 2006 team nearly staged a comeback in the 4th quarter, but it was too little too late as they fell 24-14. Wisconsin was just a disaster last year, but it falls under the same umbrella. Don't get intimidated early against Big 10 teams. We've been here before, we're running the same system, we're the returning MAC Champions. This team has a completely different perspective than either last year's team.

Pressure the QB.

Iowa is going to pass a lot due to the fact they have some of the same problems that we do with the offensive line and the fact that none of their running backs can stay healthy. James Vandenberg can be inconsistent sometimes and stopping him will be the key to winning the game. The best part of the Huskie D is our defensive ends and the secondary. The Huskies must make him focus on making him beat us though the air and they will be prepared for it. A sack here or an interception there will help the Huskies pull this one out.

Lock down on defense.

The best part of this Huskie team is the defense. Greg Davis, formally of the Texas Longhorns, is offensive coordinator for the Iowa Hawkeyes now. I've seen my share of Texas games the past few years and he is notoriously bad. They won a national championship in 2005 because of Vince Young and the recruiting talent around him. That was basically it. They won it despite of Davis and on the prowess of Mack Brown's recruiting. That system slowly degraded as his favorite thing to do is toss the ball sideways and run sideways and overall not have a great offensive plan. Both offenses will likely struggle early on and the defense has to be perfect to win this one.

Control the line.

A huge thing in this game will be how the Huskies offensive line will fare against the Iowa defensive line. Both lines are projected to be the worst units on each team. Iowa underperformed last year and only have one starter returning. NIU has no starters returning. It truly will be a unique matchup. It will be a great test in the beginning of the season for this offensive line. They have the opportunity to prove themselves, while there is an opportunity here and there for this young line to make mistakes. Too many could hurt though.

Flip it around and the Hawkeyes only have two starters on their O-Line vs. NIU's very experienced defensive line with a stable of inside help and two staples on the outside with Sean Progar and Alan Baxter.

Ride the momentum from last season.

Let's not get flustered. We've been here before. This is a team riding the longest winning streak in the nation. This is a team that was down 20 points in the fist half of the MAC Championship and still won it 23-20. This team appears to be turning the corner and if the Huskies want this to really happen they have to beat Iowa on Soldier Field. This is the stage and opportunity to get people really talking about this team. Something not tangible, but there's just something in the air that the Huskies need to grab and take hold of to win this game.