Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-2 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0 SU, 3-0 ATS), 12:05 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 3, 2009, Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa. TV: ESPN2
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Arkansas State +21.5/Iowa -21.5
The Iowa Hawkeyes reassured everyone on Saturday that they own Penn State. The No. 5-ranked Nittany Lions had national title hopes, but Iowa snapped those hopes in half with a 21-10 victory at Happy Valley. It was the second straight year Iowa gave Penn State its first loss of the season and seemingly ended the Nittany Lions’ chances of reaching the BCS national championship. Iowa has now defeated PSU seven of the last eight times the two teams have met.
Now, Iowa is ranked No. 13 in the country and has a chance to win the Big Ten and reach the BCS. Standing in the Hawkeyes’ way this week is Arkansas State, a Sun Belt team that shouldn’t get in the way of Iowa’s dreams. But the Hawkeyes are coming off a huge victory and have a big game next week against Michigan. Could this be a trap game for the Hawkeyes?
Arkansas State won its first game of the season 61-0 over Mississippi Valley State, but lost its last two games to Nebraska and Troy. The game at Nebraska didn’t go particularly well, as Arkansas State lost 38-9, but the Red Wolves at least got some experience on the road against a nationally ranked team. And Arkansas State has had some success in the past against BCS teams. The Red Wolves won 18-14 at Texas A&M in last season’s opener and they nearly upset No. 4-ranked Texas on the road in 2007, losing 21-13.
Iowa is not a flashy team. The Hawkeyes play tough defense and control the ball on offense. They had less than 300 total yards of offense against Penn State, but they shut down quarterback Darryl Clark and the PSU rushing attack. PSU running back Evan Royster normally has his way with opposing defenses, but he totaled just 69 yards on the ground against Iowa. With Royster not able to dominate, Clark had to throw a lot. And that’s not something that’s usually successful for Penn State. Clark completed just 12-of-32 passes for 198 yards. The most important stat was that Clark threw three interceptions.
Iowa is a very difficult team to pass on, as evidenced by Clark’s performance. The Hawkeyes have allowed just 171.5 passing yards per game and three passing touchdowns, yet they have nine interceptions, tied for the second most in the nation. Sophomore defensive back Tyler Sash already has four interceptions this season.
Arkansas State won’t be able to pass much on Iowa, but the Red Wolves haven’t had much success in that department and would rather run the ball anyway. Corey Leonard has attempted just 57 passes in their three games and completed 54 percent of his passes. While the Red Wolves have thrown the ball a total of 61 times this season, they have run the ball 111 times. Leading the way is Reggie Arnold, who has 241 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Arkansas State ran for 358 yards against Mississippi Valley State and 151 yards against Nebraska, so it’s clear that the Red Wolves can move the ball on the ground.
Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher are the players to watch on the Iowa offense. The two running backs share the load and have combined for 541 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Against Penn State, Robinson had 88 yards while Wegher had 73. Meanwhile, quarterback Ricky Stanzi struggled, going 11-for-26 for 135 yards and two interceptions.
Iowa struggled in its season opener, winning 17-16 against FCS team Northern Iowa. In fact, Iowa has won its last five home games but the Hawkeyes haven’t won by more than 12 points in six of their last seven home games. They haven’t won by more than 22 points in any of their last seven home games.
Ryno’s Pick: Iowa is 3-0 ATS this season and Arkansas State is 0-2 ATS, but Iowa got a ton of respect from everyone after the win over Penn State. This is the perfect trap game for Iowa, coming off a win over Penn State and a game against Michigan next week.
A similar situation occurred last week when Washington was coming off a win over USC and entered its game at Stanford with a No. 24 ranking. But Washington got caught looking ahead to Notre Dame and got clobbered by Stanford, 34-14. That doesn’t mean Arkansas State has much of a chance of beating Iowa, but the Red Wolves can keep it relatively close, especially because Iowa is not a team that scores a lot of points.
If Arkansas State can stick with its running game and establish itself on the ground early, the Red Wolves should be able to score at least a touchdown and stay within a three touchdown margin. Take Arkansas State +21.5.