North Dakota State had won five straight games against FBS opponents. On Saturday, that streak extended to six as a last-secodn field goal by Cam Pedersen snuck just inside the right upright to clip No. 13 Iowa (2-1) for a 22-20 victory.
North Dakota State orchestrated a gut-wrenching 15-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a touchdown to cut Iowa’s 21-14 lead down to 21-20. Then came decision time for Bison head coach Chris Kileman. Go for the extra point attempt to tie the game at 21-21, or attempt a two-point conversion and hope the defense can hang on for a wild 22-21 victory against the defending Big Ten West champions with 3:41 to play? The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Bison defense forced a masterful and well-timed three-and-out that forced a punt, which set North Dakota State up at their own 34-yard line with 1:44 to play.
Iowa’s defense came up incredibly small on the first play, giving North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick far too much open field to run 29 yards. That was followed by a 10-yard pass to RJ Urzendowski and a couple short runs to set the field goal unit at the 20-yard line for a 37-yard try.
North Dakota State out-gained Iowa in total offense, 363-231, including an astounding 239 rushing yards to Iowa’s 34 rushing yards on 25 attempts. Each team had an intercepted pass, but North Dakota State was the only team to create points off the turnover with a pick-six in the first half. Iowa’s defense came up with an interception in the first half, but the offense was left to a three-and-out with no yards picked up.
North Dakota State’s Six-Game FBS Winning Streak
- 2010: Kansas
- 2011: Minnesota
- 2012: Colorado State
- 2013: Kansas State
- 2014: Iowa State
- 2016: Iowa
Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard was hit or miss for most of the afternoon, but he did toss three touchdowns, including a pair to Matt VandeBerg.
Unless a game is added to the schedule in the next few years, which undoubtedly it may despite the evidence suggesting FBS schools should be taking a pass on the Bison, North Dakota State’s next scheduled game against an FBS opponent is not until 2020. North Dakota State makes a trip to Oregon that season, and a future game at Colorado comes up in 2024. The five-time defending FCS champions have answered every challenge so far with a pair of overtime victories against high-quality FCS opponents and today’s win at Iowa. From here, it should be smooth sailing, right? Next up is a Missouri Vallet Football Conference opener with Illinois State. The two faced off for the FCS championship last season, and Illinois State also has a win against a Big Ten team this season. Illinois State edged Northwestern last week.
Iowa will get away next week to play Rutgers in a Big Ten opener.