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updated: 8/31/2012 7:01 PM

Iowa hopes climb to top starts with win over NIU

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Associated Press

Iowa is out to prove it is better than simply average.

The Hawkeyes figure to be tested right from the start when they meet Northern Illinois in the season opener Saturday at Soldier Field, the first step on a path they hope will lead to the top of the Big Ten.

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Northern Illinois won its final nine games to finish 11-3 last season, tied a school record for victories it set the previous year and captured its first Mid-American Conference Championship since 1983.

Iowa has gone 15-11 overall since the 2009 team won the Orange Bowl and is coming off back-to-back 4-4 finishes in Big Ten play. Now, it has two new coordinators and a depleted rotation at running back.

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