Football Four to Watch: Trap games

BY MITCH SMITH | JULY 27, 2010 7:20 AM

A five-part series, also check out:
- 07.26.10: Four to watch: Freshmen
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4) vs. Ball State, Sept. 25

Although the Cardinals won only two games last season, they certainly aren't a guaranteed victory for the Hawkeyes.

Ball State returns all of its top offensive players from the 2009 campaign, including running back MiQuale Lewis.

Lewis rushed for 871 yards last season, and he has shown the ability to be a star player for the Cardinals. He ran for 1,736 yards during the squad's 12-2 campaign in 2008.

Ball State can't get much worse than it was in 2009. This team could put up a fight similar to the one Arkansas State put up in Kinnick last year.

I'm not saying the Hawkeyes will lose the game — they just better not think ahead to the following week's Homecoming clash with Penn State.

The last time Iowa played a school from the Mid-American Conference, it didn't end well. Just Google "Western Michigan vs. Iowa 2007."

3) at Minnesota, Nov. 27

As Dan Fouts said in The Waterboy, "Last game of the year. Can't hold anything back."

If, and I say this with a big IF, Iowa is undefeated going into this game, winning at Minnesota could be more important than any other contest in Hawkeye history.

Adam Weber is back for what seems like his eighth season as the Golden Gophers' starting quarterback, and while the Gophers don't look great on paper, no road game in the Big Ten is easy.

Despite being significantly more talented than the Golden Gophers the last couple of years, Iowa has a tendency to play down to Minnesota's level and keep the game close (except for that 55-0 blowout win in 2008).

Hoisting the Floyd of Rosedale trophy could carry a lot more implications this season and could officially send Iowa back to another BCS contest — or even a national title game.

2) at Indiana, Nov. 6

If last season was any indication, the Hoosiers have proven they can hang with Iowa.

Indiana managed only four victories last season, but the Hoosiers were much better than their record indicates.

The squad held fourth-quarter leads on the road at Iowa, Michigan, and Northwestern, but let each of those games slip away.

Signal caller Ben Chappell returns this season, along with a trio of receivers that could be difficult to defend. Led by first-team All-Big Ten honoree Tandon Doss, the receiving corps gives Chappell an array of threats that could give fits to any Big Ten secondary.

Indiana could battle for a bowl bid, and head coach Bill Lynch might be fighting to keep his job.
The Hoosiers are going to give the Hawkeyes all they can handle.

1) vs. Iowa State, Sept. 11

The stage is set.

Iowa State is coming off its first bowl win since 2005, and Iowa is coming off its best campaign since 2002.

A regional television audience will watch the contest on ABC — no longer is the rivalry relegated to Versus or Fox Sports Net.

Not to mention that Adrian Clayborn gave Paul Rhoads' squad some bulletin-board material when he said the Hawkeyes are the only college football team in the state.

Iowa State has lost its last two games against Iowa, but it will certainly be gunning to spoil the Hawkeyes' season.

There's more at stake in this contest than the coveted Cy-Hawk trophy. This rivalry contest could define the Hawkeyes' entire season.

A win could send Iowa down the path to potential BCS success, while a loss could start a downward spiral into mediocrity.

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