At some point, FBS teams will learn not to schedule North Dakota State. No. 13 Iowa learned the hard way on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
North Dakota State, the five-time defending FCS national champions, came into Iowa City and pulled off a 23-21 win on a last-second 37-yard field goal by Cam Pedersen. The win is the sixth for the Bison over an FBS opponent since 2010, but the first over a Top 25 team. The upset marks the biggest for an FCS team since James Madison upset No. 13 Virginia Tech back in 2010.
Cam Pedersen just snuck that one in to seal the upset for North Dakota State. pic.twitter.com/Rw1F5bqoSi
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 17, 2016
North Dakota State completely dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 36:40 (compared to Iowa’s 23:20) and gashed the Hawkeyes for 239 rushing yards. King Frazier led the way with 99 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Easton Stick was an efficient 11-of-19 for 124 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Still, it took a comeback effort for the Bison to pull this one out. Iowa took a 21-14 lead late in the third on a C.J. Beathard TD pass to Matt VandeBerg. NDSU’s Pedersen missed from 50 on the Bison’s next drive, but the defense quickly forced an Iowa punt when the Hawkeyes had a chance to build on the lead.
This time, the Bison would not be denied. They marched down the field with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that took a whopping 8:39 off the clock. That drive culminated with a Stick touchdown pass to Chase Morlock. But instead of trying to tie the game at 21-21, NDSU went for two and failed.
NDSU quickly forced another Iowa three-and-out on the ensuing possession and took over on offense with 1:53 to go. The Bison effortlessly moved down the field and into field goal territory in just a few plays, setting up for Pedersen’s heroics and one of the biggest upsets of the season so far.
Though NDSU is undoubtedly the best FCS program in the country, this is still a disappointing loss for Iowa. The Hawkeyes were undefeated in the regular season last year and were on the verge of the College Football Playoff. The fact that they could muster only 34 rushing yards and 231 yards overall is a huge concern.
The Hawkeyes should still be the favorite to win the Big Ten West, but this kind of effort won’t cut it against the top teams from the East division or division foes Nebraska and Wisconsin.
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