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Iowa gets big boost as Bulaga cleared to return

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

These are good times for Iowa football.

The Hawkeyes come off a huge road victory against Penn State that vaulted them to No. 13 in the AP poll. They play their next two contests at home. And now they're getting their best offensive lineman back in the fold.

Star left tackle Bryan Bulaga has been medically cleared to return after missing the last three games with what head coach Kirk Ferentz called a thyroid condition. Depending on Bulaga's progress in practice this week, he could return to the starting lineup Saturday against Arkansas State (ESPN2, noon ET).

"He had a thyroid condition, and the good news is it was something that just passes," Ferentz said. "It could have been a little bit more extensive than that, and they'd have to go through a series of checks to make those decisions and what have you. But the good news is it's an illness that hit. It passed in time with proper supervision.

"We don't anticipate any further problems, and he won't be on medication the rest of his life or any of that kind of stuff, which was all a possibility at the front end. I think all the drama has been resolved."

Bulaga was briefly hospitalized three weeks ago with an undisclosed illness. Redshirt freshman Riley Reiff filled in well during Bulaga's absence, but Bulaga provides a major boost for a Hawkeyes offensive line that ranks last in the Big Ten in sacks allowed with 10.

Ferentz expects to play both tackles against Arkansas State.

Iowa's offense hasn't fully clicked for an entire game this season, and Bulaga's presence could restore a sense of normalcy up front.

"It was killing him not to be out there," Ferentz said. "Now he gets to get back into action, so we're really happy for him."