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Monday, April 6, 2009
Hawkeyes road tour will be spotlighted this fall

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The good news for Iowa fans perusing College Football News' list of Top 10 Big Ten games this fall is that their team appears four times on the rundown. The bad news? None of those games is at Kinnick Stadium.

If Iowa wants to continue the momentum it generated in 2008, it will have to do so on the road. The Hawkeyes' road schedule is brutal, with trips to Penn State (Sept. 26), Ohio State (Nov. 14), Michigan State (Oct. 24) and Wisconsin (Oct. 17).

It's amazing to think that the bus ride to Camp Randall Stadium, where Wisconsin won 16 consecutive games heading into an Oct. 4 matchup against Ohio State, appears to be Iowa's easiest road game. And the Badgers figure to be a better team this fall, particularly on their home turf.

As for the entire Top 10 list, I agree with the top choice but would put Iowa-Penn State at No. 2 because it will chart the course for much of the Big Ten race as the league opener. I'm very surprised that Wisconsin at Ohio State comes in at No. 5 -- I could probably think of 8-12 bigger games -- and the lack of respect for Northwestern (no games), Minnesota (no games) and Michigan (one game, vs. Ohio State) is noteworthy, but not entirely shocking.

One more Iowa-related item for you. Information is very scarce this spring in Iowa City -- I'll change that with my trip there Friday -- but Iowa's official Web site recently interviewed running backs coach Lester Erb about the group's progress. Life without Shonn Greene appears to be going decently, though projected successor Jewel Hampton has been slowed by a hamstring injury in spring ball.

"It's exciting because you have Paki [O'Meara] who has played a little bit and done a tremendous job on special teams," Erb said. "We have two fullbacks with starting experience -- both young guys working hard. We're getting a great look at [redshirt freshman] Jeff Brinson. It's been a productive spring and we'll see who emerges."

Brinson came in with Hampton and both were considered contenders for carries last year, before Greene established himself as the top back. Hampton turned in a very solid freshman season as Greene's backup, while Brinson redshirted. It'll be interesting to see if the 5-11, 215-pound Brinson can close the gap on his classmate this spring.