Early schedule snapshot: Iowa

February, 9, 2009
2/09/09
2:47
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten schedule is nearly complete after Indiana added its final nonconference game today. The Iowa Hawkeyes are up next on the rundown. 

NONCONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Sept. 5 Northern Iowa

Sept. 12 at Iowa State

Sept. 19 Arizona

Oct. 3 Arkansas State

My take: This is a solid nonconference slate that should prepare Iowa for a Big Ten opener -- Sept. 26 at Penn State -- that could go a long way in deciding the league championship. Northern Iowa reached the FCS playoff semifinals last year before losing to eventual national champion Richmond in the final minute. Iowa State is a transitioning program with a new head coach (Paul Rhoads), but the Cyclones always play Iowa tough in the Cy-Hawk series. Arizona also might be rebuilding in 2009 but comes off a solid 2008 season capped by a Las Vegas Bowl victory over BYU. Iowa will be favored in all four games but should be tested at times. 

BIG TEN SCHEDULE

Sept. 26 at Penn State

Oct. 10 Michigan

Oct. 17 at Wisconsin

Oct. 24 at Michigan State

Oct. 31 Indiana

Nov. 7 Northwestern

Nov. 14 at Ohio State

Nov. 21 Minnesota 

Byes: Purdue, Illinois

My take: Iowa's trip to Penn State will be one of the Big Ten's marquee games this fall, but the Hawkeyes must avoid a hangover or a letdown, depending on the result at Beaver Stadium. The stretch following Penn State is crucial, as Iowa hosts a transitioning Michigan team before visiting Wisconsin, a team it embarrassed last year, and making a second consecutive trip to Michigan State. If the Hawkeyes survive the first four games, they'll be in good shape for another road showdown against Ohio State on Nov. 14. The home schedule is manageable, but Iowa gets no breaks away from Kinnick Stadium. 

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