Ranking Big Ten Opening Week Games-LEGENDS Tier

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8. ILLINOIS STATE @ IOWA (Sept. 5, 11 a.m. CT) BTN

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Illinois State Redbirds are coming off a fantastic season from one year ago. The Redbirds went 7-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) and 13-2 overall. They found themselves playing for the Division I FCS National Championship against rival MVFC opponent North Dakota State, in which they would end up losing to the Bison 29-27.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Senior quarterback Tre Roberson, who was 10th in the country in FCS for passing yards, could give Iowa fits not only through the air but with his legs as well. The Redbirds will be without start running back Marshaun Coprich who was recently arrested on a Class 4 felony drug charge and is suspended indefinitely. Coprich led the FCS in rushing last year with 2,274 yards.

Iowa enters the 2015 season after finishing the 2014 year on a sour note. The Hawkeyes went 7-6 last year, 4-4 in the Big Ten. They ended on a three-game losing streak, including a two point loss to Wisconsin, a three-point overtime loss to Nebraska and a 17 point loss to Tennessee in the Taxslayer Bowl. Quarterback Jake Rudock transfered to Michigan, meaning C.J. Beathard will be the guy under center. Leading receiver Tevaun Smith returns, giving Iowa a decent attack through the air.

The Redbirds will put up a fight at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City and make things interesting, but the Hawkeyes will come away with the victory. It could end up being a lot closer than what most Hawkeye fans would like.

Next: In-State Rivalry to Start Season