|Iowa linebacker James Morris is one of the few Hawkeyes who can be pleased with their performance so far this season. (US Presswire)|
Northern Iowa Panthers (1-1, 0-0 MVC) at Iowa Hawkeyes (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:42 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Watchability: Northern Iowa nearly beat Wisconsin in their regular season opener, and with Iowa's recent offensive ineptitude, don't be surprised if the game comes down to the wire in Iowa City.
Shining Stars: Iowa: Junior LB James Morris has been one of the leaders of a defense that has allowed just 13 ppg through the first two games. Morris had 12 tackles and an interception in last week in the loss to rival Iowa State. He made at least 10 tackles in seven games last season. The defense, which has allowed just 271.5 yards per game, is the primary reason Iowa isn't 0-2. Northern Iowa: Redshirt freshman quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen has thrown three touchdowns in two consecutive games, including an 18-for-34, 265-yard performance at Camp Randall in which the underclassmen outplayed transfer Danny O'Brien in his Badger debut. Kollmorgen already has connected with 10 receivers this season and has yet to throw an interception. After allowing just 54 passing yards through the air against Northern Illinois, Iowa allowed 254 yards passing to Iowa State last weekend even though the Cyclones could only convert that into nine points.
Who could steal the show: Iowa: The Hawkeyes may have found a viable running back in sophomore Damon Bullock. He wasn't expected to be a primary feature of the offense but following various dismissals and injuries, Bullock got his opportunity in week one against Northern Illinois. He has ran for 150 yards on 30 carries and he has eight catches for 82 yards this season after catching just one pass all last year. Despite his pass-catching ability, the Hawkeyes should use him predominantly out of the backfield and let senior QB James Vandenberg find his rhythm through the air with Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley. Northern Iowa: Wideout Brett LeMaster has accounted for 178 receiving yards through two games, highlighted by his four-catch, 125 yard and one touchdown performance last week against Central State. Iowa hasn't been able to pressure the quarterback so far this season (2.0 sacks, ninth in Big Ten) and with more time to break free from cornerbacks, LeMaster could have a big game after Iowa State's receivers torched the Hawkeye secondary last week.
You going? Ranking the road trip: If you're a Hawkeye fan, Saturday's game might be difficult to watch given that Vandenberg has failed to throw a touchdown pass this season. But Panther fans only have to drive 90 minutes to invade Iowa City and potentially celebrate the upset.
Magic Number: Iowa: 14. The number of wins the Hawkeyes have achieved in fourteen homes games vs. Northern Iowa. Although in 2009, the Panthers would've defeated Iowa in Kinnick Stadium were it not for consecutive blocked fields goals on the game's final two plays.
Magic Number: Northern Iowa: 6. As in the FCS rank of the Northern Iowa Panthers, up a spot from last week.
The came comes down to: Whether Iowa's offense can find its rhythm. The offense has been abysmal while the defense has been stout and Northern Iowa, who lost its last meeting 17-16 in Iowa City, will expose their weaknesses.
Prediction: Northern Iowa 23, Iowa 17
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.