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With 53 days to go until the pigskin (officially) flies through the air for the first time, we'll be previewing all 10 TTU opponents here on TTUsports.com.
Countdown to camp: 23 days
Countdown to season opener: 53 days
Who: University of Iowa Hawkeyes
What: Game 1, Season Opener
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, 11 a.m. CT
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
Tennessee Tech will get back on the field on Saturday, Sept. 3, with a road contest at the University of Iowa. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Golden Eagles and the Hawkeyes -- in fact it will be Tech's first meeting against any Big 10 opponent on the gridiron. Iowa was 8-5 last year and tied for fourth in the Big 10 with a 4-4 league record. The Hawkeyes ended the year with a 27-24 victory over No. 12 Missouri in the Insight Bowl.
Following that third straight bowl victory, the 2011 Hawkeyes will rely on a veteran offensive line to lead the way while Coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff work to replace a number of key seniors at the majority of other positions. The Hawkeyes played one of the nation's toughest schedules. Iowa played seven ranked opponents and won four of the matchups. The seven ranked foes are the most ever for a Kirk Ferentz coached Iowa team.
The Hawkeyes have sold out Kinnick Stadium in 49 of the last 51 games. The 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010 home attendance average of 70,585 is an Iowa record. The Hawkeyes' 36 straight home sellouts (2003-08) are a school record. Since 2002, the Hawkeyes have a 49-11(.817) home record, a mark that ranks with the nation's best.
On defense, players to watch include end Broderick Binns and tackle Mike Daniels up front and linbebackers Tyler Nielsen and James Morris. Morris ranked ofurth on the team with 70 tackles, while Daniels had 11 tackles-for-loss and four wuarterback sacks. In the secondary, cornerbacks Shaun Prater and Micah Hyde are back after each posting four interceptions a year ago. Hyde was second on the team with 82 tackles and Prater ranked fifth with 68 tackles.
The veteran offensive line will feature tackles Marcus Zusevics and Riley Reiff, and center James Ferentz. Runningback Marcus Coker is back to headline the backfield after ranking second on the team in rushing with 622 yards last season. The passing game will center around wide receiver Marvin McNutt, who finished 2010 with 53 catches for 861 yards and 10 touchdowns.