I need to tell you something, but you have to promise you aren't going to freak out and run to the message boards.
Eddie George picked Northern Illinois to upset the Iowa Hawkeyes in the season opener at Solider Field (via Rivals.com).
Stop! We agreed you would not get offended and blow this out of proportion on your fan blog forum of choice. It reflects poorly on the entire Iowa fanbase if you respond with self-righteous big-conference conjecture or tattoo-related mudslinging toward Mr. George's temporarily embattled alma mater (I suspect very temporary, so tread lightly). Let's process this together.
George believes Iowa has too many questions and not enough answers as it enters the season. Naturally, he mentioned uncertainty at running back. He also gives NIU's defense some well-deserved praise. Among the biggest concerns for Iowa is the potential of an entirely one-dimensional offensive attack against quality defenses.
The good news is that one reliable dimension should be awfully stout. James Vandenberg has the tools to be the best pure passer in the Big Ten, C.J. Fiedorowicz is a matchup nightmare and, despite losing Marvin McNutt, the receiving corp is loaded with intriguing potential. One really good offensive dimension may not be enough come October, but it will be just enough Saturday.
NIU is running out a new quarterback in Jordan Lynch. He's a talented young man with a bright future, and Huskies fans will be glad to have him, but this is his first start. More importantly, it is the first start of all five offensive linemen tasked with keeping him upright. Even against Iowa's unproven defensive line, that is too much inexperience to overcome in Week 1.
Will NIU pull off the upset against Iowa?
Coach Dave Doeren has a quality team, and they will absolutely reclaim any respect the casual Big Ten fan misplaced after a blowout loss to Wisconsin in Solider Field last season.
Iowa is not going to lose to Northern Illinois. They may very well sneak out of Chicago with an unimpressive win that indicates a long season ahead, but they will not lose. Prepare for the type of game where fans are left to say things like, "if we had that much trouble moving the ball against a MAC team, how are we going to score against Michigan State?"
As you file out of Solider Field victorious, respond with an answer so perfect you can't help but feel better in an instant:
"There's a bar in Wrigleyville called Sluggers that has batting cages."
Deal with Michigan State another day.