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Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Ball State Cardinals Football Preview

This will be the third time that the Cardinals have taken on the Hawkeyes. And while they were far from successful the first two times, there is serious reason to believe that they can travel home with a win.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

After last week's dominating win against the Colgate Raiders, Ball State will be traveling to Iowa City, Iowa to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Most analysts pretty much expect the Cardinals to fall hard to Iowa, especially because Ball State was blown out by the Hawkeyes in 2010 (45-0). However, based on the performances these teams showed last week, this may not be the case. Iowa narrowly beat the Northern Iowa Panthers, 31-23.  If the Cardinals catch the Hawkeyes sleeping, this game could go Ball State's way.

The biggest advantage Iowa has on Ball State is their passing attack. This really shouldn't be a huge surprise to anyone. The Cardinal passing attack is mediocre at best. Ozzie Mann had an alright outing last Saturday, completing 20 out of his 32 attempts for 203 yards. He threw two touchdowns and one interception. Jake Rudock will get the start for the Hawkeyes. Last week, he completed 31 passes on 41 attempts for 250 yards. He threw two touchdowns.

On the receiving end of things, it looks like it's almost neck and neck. Kevonte Martin-Manley looks like he will be Iowa's top receiver this year. Last game, he had eight receptions for 62 yards. Jake Duzey also got a lot of looks, reeling in seven receptions for 34 yards. The two passing touchdowns went to Tevaun Smith, and Damond Powell, neither of which had over 20 yards.

The biggest surprise to most Ball State fans was KeVonn Mabon really breaking through. He had 11 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, the receiver that everybody suspected to be the top guy didn't have a great game. Jordan Williams only had one reception for six yards. This is mainly due to the fact that Mann didn't really throw a lot of deep balls. Most of his passes were screens to Mabon. Once Mann gets more confident slinging the ball, we will probably see an increase in Williams involvement. Unfortunately, I doubt that this will be the game that Williams really shines. I imagine that throughout most of the game, Mann will play it safe and throw a lot of screens, and hand the ball off quite a bit. If Ball State gets down big, we may see some shots down field late in the game. The other Ball State touchdown went to Aaron Hepp, and that was his only catch of the day.

The Hawkeyes really didn't have any standout running back last week. Mark Weisman got the most touches (10), but he was only able to get 34 yards. No Iowa running back that got more than 3 carries was able to average more than 3.5 yards per carry. This is the weakest spot in the Hawkeyes team.

While Iowa didn't have a great running attack last Saturday, that was most positive aspect of Ball State's performance. Not many teams could compare to what the Cardinals did last Saturday. Horactio Banks and Jahwan Edwards make one deadly duo. Banks had 13 carries for 124 yards, and Edwards had 22 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Cardinals looked stellar last Saturday. Now, it's hard to really tell where they are at, as Colgate didn't put up the best offensive performance. Although, from what I saw, their defense was really in control of the game. They only let up nine first downs. They will need to be on top of their game in order to shut down the Hawkeyes passing game. If the Cardinals can do that, they will be in good shape to get the W.

The Hawkeyes looked like they had a spectacular run defense. They only let the Northern Iowa Panthers get 25 yards. It will be interesting to see how they manage to contain Banks and Edwards. Another weak part of Iowa's game was their pass defense. While they managed to get two interceptions, they still gave up 380 passing yards. Hopefully Mann will be able to sling some deep passes on this shaky secondary.

There really is no matchup I like better than when a MAC team takes on a Big 10 team. And while the odds are still not in favor of the Cardinals, it really isn't out of the question that the Cardinals could pull of an upset. Ball State has never beaten Iowa, so a win would be huge for the program as a whole.