CHICAGO (AP) -- Albert Young gave Iowa some good news.
The senior ran for 144 yards and a touchdown to lead the Hawkeyes to a 16-3 victory over Northern Iillinois in the season opener at Soldier Field on Saturday.
The Hawkeyes' eighth all-time rusher, Young gave Iowa a 6-0 lead on a 7-yard run early in the second quarter after Andy Brodell returned a punt 56 yards. Brandon Myers caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jake Christensen that made it 13-0 midway through the quarter.
It was a good start for a program that has taken some hits lately, but it wasn't an easy afternoon. No surprise, considering Northern Illinois, out of the Mid-American Conference, has seven straight winning seasons.
With the bitter taste of a 6-7 season still lingering, Iowa took another hit when leading receiver Dominique Douglas and backup Anthony Bowman were suspended indefinitely for their role in a credit card scandal two weeks ago.
Douglas, who led the nation's freshmen with 49 receptions last season, was charged with making more than $2,000 in purchases to cards belonging to two other people -- a felony that carries up to five years in jail and a fine up to $7,500. Bowman, who was expected to compete for playing time, also was charged.
Not a good moment for a team that ended last season by losing six of seven -- including the final four. The only win during that stretch was by 10 over Northern Illinois, and Iowa finished with a losing record for the first time in six years under coach Kirk Ferentz.
With their top receiver out, Iowa leaned heavily on the running game. Young had 74 yards on 12 attempts in the first half alone, and carried 23 times in all. And Damian Sims ran for 110.
The Huskies wasted several opportunities in the first half and blew a great one on the opening possession of the third quarter. Trailing 13-3, they drove all the way to the 3 only to see the Hawkeyes' Charles Godfrey pick off a pass -- his second interception.
When the Hawkeyes looked to the air, the results weren't great either.
Christensen's second career start wasn't quite as good as his first one, when he passed for 256 yards and two touchdowns in that win over Northern Illinois. This time, the sophomore from suburban Lockport, Ill., was 12-for-29 with 133 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
Northern Illinois' Dan Nicholson was 26-of-42 with 214 yards and three interceptions, and the running game went nowhere. With Garrett Wolfe, the nation's leading rusher last season, now a Chicago Bear, the Huskies managed just 21 yards on the ground. Montell Clanton had 49 on 13 attempts.
Brodell set up the first touchdown when he ran up the right side for a 56-yard punt return, taking advantage of several good blocks and breaking two tackles along the way. Three plays later, Young ran it in from the 7 to make it 6-0 less than three minutes into the second quarter.
Iowa drove 95 yards on its next possession to make it 13-0. Christensen connected with James Cleveland for 40 yards and Sims broke off a 23-yard run before Myers' catch. That brought a loud roar from a sold out crowd that was mostly decked out in black and gold.