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.
The North Dakota State Bison, five-time defending champions of the FCS, scored the first touchdown of the day at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have come back to take a lead into halftime.
North Dakota State opened the scoring late in the first quarter with the defense doing the honors. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard was hit as he attempted a pass and linebacker MJ Stumpf managed to be in the right spot at the right time to get his hands on the ball as it popped out of the quarterback’s hands. He managed to return the turnover 21 yards for the score. Beathard would make up for the mistake in the second quarter.
After getting a feel for what North Dakota State was doing defensively, the Hawkeyes eventually figured out how to move the football. Beathard got Iowa on the board with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Riley McCarron, who split a couple of defenders in the open field and had nobody in front to stop him on the way to the endzone. After forcing the visiting Bison to punt away on the ensuing possession, Iowa got on the scoreboard once more with a Beathard touchdown pass to Matt VandeBerg inside the red zone.
Still, North Dakota State appears to be playing the game it wants to hang around and give the Hawkeyes a decent scare. North Dakota State needs to keep the offense on the field, which has been difficult against Iowa’s defense. North Dakota State had just one third-down conversion in the first half, although they did pick up a fourth-down conversion.
It has only been a few days, but the position switch made by Iowa quarterback Ryan Boyle to wide receiver got off to a solid start if the spring football game this weekend was any indication. Boyle made the position switch on Wednesday and then caught two touchdowns on Saturday. Yes, that will work.
“The rest of us have been playing receiver for at least five years,” Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg said, according to the Des Moines Register. “So him three days in, and he’s making plays like that? That says a lot.”
Boyle had a nice 38-yard catch and run for one touchdown. He also got his hands on a second touchdown off a six-yard pass on the final play of the game. Small sample size, sure, but Boyle’s highlights offer a glimmer of hope for Iowa’s offense as it looks to add depth at the wide receiver position. With C.J. Beathard locked in as Iowa’s starting quarterback, Boyle being a team player by converting to a position of need speaks volumes of his commitment to helping the team.
“Players like that, it’s just good to have those guys on your football team,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We’ll keep fooling around with this, and we’ll see where it goes. There are openings on the receiver position … so if he can make a contribution there, it’d be a great thing.”
It is expected Boyle will contribute on special teams in some capacity, if not just as a part-time wide receiver. It should also be noted Beathard needed to undergo an MRI this week after injuring his throwing shoulder in a practice on Wednesday. Fortunately, no serious damage was found other than a bruise.