IOWA CITY, Iowa — FCS power North Dakota State rumbled into Iowa City and upset the No. 13-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes 23-21 at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
The Bison rallied from a 21-14 deficit to score twice in the fourth quarter. Kicker Cam Pedersen drilled a 37-yard field goal on the game’s final play for the victory.
North Dakota State pounded the Hawkeyes (2-1) in the fourth quarter, outgaining the Hawkeyes 126-9. The Bison (3-0) out-rushed Iowa 239-34 in the game.
Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 11 of 22 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns. He also had an interception returned for a 21-yard touchdown.
Five things learned
- Iowa needs to get a lot better stopping the run. The first game’s run failures felt like an aberration because linebacker Josey Jewell was out of the game after a targeting ejection. But Iowa has given up more than 126 yards in each of its three games, including 239 against North Dakota State. That’s unacceptable.
- Beathard is the key performer for Iowa. For the fourth time in his career, and second time in consecutive weeks, Beathard threw at least three touchdown passes. Even when he struggled early on, he kept the Hawkeyes in the game.
- Iowa’s running game needs work. After two games, Iowa averaged 205 yards on the ground. The Hawkeyes ran for only 34 yards Saturday.
- Iowa’s defensive tackles were out of position and beaten off the ball throughout the second half. Some were attributed to double teams. But other times they appeared to freelance along the line of scrimmage. North Dakota State ran at the heart of the Hawkeyes, and Iowa couldn’t do anything about it.
- North Dakota State is pretty darn good. The Bison are well-coached, physical and smart. Maybe they’d struggled in a full-season pounding against the Big Ten, but I’m not so sure. The Bison have won six straight games against FBS competition and all have come on the road.
After mounting a 15-play drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock, North Dakota State elected to go for a 2-point conversion instead of the game-tying extra point. Quarterback Easton Stick scrambled to his left, couldn’t find an open receiver and his pass was tipped and fell incomplete.
True freshman QB Nathan Stanley can play. When Beathard left the game after taking a hard shot, Stanley stepped in and completed a 37-yard pass to tight end George Kittle on his first play. Stanley’s play-fake sold the play, and it flipped the field. Beathard returned a few plays later but Stanley proved he’s capable of stepping in at the game’s most important situation.
The left side of Iowa’s offensive line struggled to impose its will on North Dakota State’s defensive line. Iowa’s left side gave up a thunderous hit on Beathard by linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker in the first quarter, which led to an errant pass and a 21-yard interception return by MJ Stumpf for a touchdown. The Hawkeyes struggled to right run left most of the afternoon.
Iowa gave up 239 yards on the ground against an FCS team. Enough said.
What it means
Iowa has plenty of work to do to become a top-10 team. True, North Dakota State has won its last five games against FBS competition and claimed five straight FCS national titles. But the way Iowa was dominated along the line of scrimmage provides Iowa with its biggest concern going forward. The Hawkeyes are a line-of-scrimmage team.