Scott Levine.jpg

Scott Levine

Associated Press

This weekend marks the first part of the college football season, and it’s about time.

Suspensions and criminal activity have marred the offseason, so I, like many other football fans, are ready for the action to start so we don’t have to read countless headlines of arrests.

On the local level, former Clinton High School running back David Johnson will split carries with Carlos Anderson at the University of Northern Iowa. The Panthers will have a tall task as they travel to Wisconsin to take on the defending Big-10 champs.

If Johnson does what he did in his first game last year, which happened to be his first collegiate game ever, then the Panthers may have a shot at sticking with the Badgers. Johnson tallied two touchdowns against Iowa State during the year’s first game last year, and he racked up more than 100 total yards.

The Panther freshman started in five games last season and totaled more than 1,200 all-purpose yards during a campaign that resulted in being the runner-up in the Missouri Valley Conference as Freshman of the Year.

Expectations are high for the Panthers and Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, but Saturday’s game may be too difficult of a challenge for the lower division team.

Iowa State and Iowa also feature former local standouts. Austin Krick is part of the Cyclones football team as a defensive lineman. The redshirt sophomore, who played alongside Johnson during the magical River Kings run in 2009, is not on the two-deep for the first game against Tulsa, but as the season progresses and injuries become a factor, we’ll see if Krick can work his way up the depth chart.

For the University of Iowa, junior Casey Kreiter, of DeWitt, will once again handle long-snapping duties. He handled all those duties last year in 13 games, and is expected to once again carry the load.

It will be an interesting year for the two major universities in Iowa with plenty of uncertainty. Staying healthy and catching a few breaks will play a major role in the Hawkeyes and Cyclones’ success. Hopefully both teams can keep their focus on their first games, with Iowa playing Northern Illinois, and Iowa State facing Tulsa, before squaring off against each other in week 2.

Once again, CNHI, the parent company of the Clinton Herald, is conducting its college football sweepstakes. One winner receives a gift certificate from Dick’s Sporting Goods, while a grand prize winner will be selected at the end of the year. Go to Clintonherald.com for more details.

• My predictions are in bold

Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri; Clemson vs. Auburn; Murray State at Florida State; Eastern Kentucky at Purdue; Iowa vs. Northern Illinois; Miami at Boston College; Richmond at Virginia; Buffalo at Georgia; Western Michigan at Illinois; Tulsa at Iowa State; Ohio at Penn State; Marshall at West Virginia; Notre Dame vs. Navy; Central Arkansas at Mississippi; Jackson State at Mississippi State; Northwestern State at Texas Tech; Michigan vs. Alabama; Wyoming at Texas; Indiana State at Indiana; Texas State at Houston; Oklahoma at UTEP; Miami (Ohio) at Ohio State; Northwestern at Syracuse; William and Mary at Maryland; Youngstown State at Pittsburgh.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.