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Is now a good week for Iowa to play Arkansas State?

BY DI SPORTS STAFF | OCTOBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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This is not a good week for Iowa to play Arkansas State

When trying to find an opponent to pencil in a week after toppling Penn State and a week before facing Michigan, Arkansas State isn’t exactly the type of team that comes to mind.

Of course, the logistics of scheduling dictate that Iowa step outside the Big Ten this week. With an odd number of teams, one is left out of conference play. This week, it’s Iowa.

Logistics aside, the best-case scenario is: Iowa plays another high-caliber opponent this week.

The Hawkeyes’ last opponent, Penn State, and their next Big Ten opponent, Michigan, happen to be two of the best teams the Hawkeyes will face all year. Arkansas State is arguably the worst.

The Red Wolves present your classic trap-game scenario.

The Hawkeyes are not only coming off of the emotional high of taming the Nittany Lions, but they are also only a week away from their first meeting with Michigan since 2006.

With these two ingredients, Iowa could be in for an emotional low and a slow start against the Red Wolves.

One of the glaring reasons that many preseason prognosticators pointed to for not choosing Iowa as a legitimate Big Ten contender was a predetermined variable, the Hawkeyes’ mind-numbingly difficult schedule.

With no games the last two weeks of the season, Iowa has no bye week. The Hawkeyes must run the gauntlet of playing 12 games in 12 weeks. Some may make the ignorant argument that Arkansas State serves as a “bye.”

And let’s be honest: Hawkeye Nation is assuming the victory this week.

Fortunately, head coach Kirk Ferentz is renowned for his ability to prepare his team the exact same way each week — and I’m sure this week will be no different.

But when Tate Forcier & Company come marching into Iowa City next week (and possibly four famous ESPN talking heads), it’s safe to say the stakes will be more than a bit higher.

— by Jordan Garretson

This is a good week for Iowa to play Arkansas State

Saturday is a great time for Iowa to go head to head with Arkansas State.

I can see the argument that it is the fifth game of the season and it is time to get serious, especially before Iowa plays Michigan, but who says the Hawkeyes aren’t going to take this week’s game seriously?

ABC announcer Brent Musburger said it himself — Iowa is the most intelligent and well-coached team he has broadcast so far this season. Does anyone really believe head coach Kirk Ferentz is going to let the team slack off this week and then not be prepared for its Homecoming game against Michigan?

The timing for this contest couldn’t be better. Iowa is coming away from beating a solid Arizona team followed by a victory over Penn State, which was the No. 5 team in the nation. The Hawkeyes deserve an opponent that will most likely play well below their talent level.

Some think that once conference play begins, all of the easy nonconference opponents should be forgotten. But that doesn’t always make for the best preparation.

Take Penn State for instance. It walloped Akron, Syracuse, and Temple by an average of 23 points per game. But in came Iowa to stun the Nittany Lions in front of a home crowd of more than 100,000. Penn State was clearly overrated, but no one knew that until this past weekend, because it had played three inferior opponents to start the season.

Iowa, however, has not taken that path this season. Even if it annihilates Arkansas State, the game is not going to give the Hawkeyes a false sense of how good they are, because they already know what they can do against a formidable opponent.

This game could also potentially give left tackle Bryan Bulaga and tight end Tony Moeaki another week to recuperate from illness/injury before taking on the Wolverines.

The bottom line is Hawkeye fans do not need to worry about this game taking away any of the steam Iowa has built up after beating Penn State. If anything, it will allow the Hawkeyes to work out any kinks or question marks before welcoming the Maize and Blue to Iowa City.

— by Clark Cahill


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