Previewing Iowa’s week three matchup against North Dakota State
The 13th ranked team in the nation, Iowa Hawkeyes, will be up against the top team in the FCS. The North Dakota State Bison have won the past five FCS championships and are putting their five game FBS win streak on the line, as well. On the other hand, the Hawkeyes head into the game winning their last 14 regular season games.
They’re set to kickoff at 11AM CT on ESPN2 at Kinnick Stadium. It’s the first morning game of the season for the Hawkeyes.
Both teams play similarly, which means getting off to a fast start will be even more important. Whichever team can establish a run game early will gain the early advantage. At the same time, both quarterbacks are very capable of leading their teams if called upon.
While the Bison might fall in the FCS poll and end their five game FBS win streak, they’re still the underdog and don’t have nearly as much pressure as Iowa does. Plus, losing to a top-15 FBS team won’t impact their playoff seeding that much. A loss for Iowa could end their College Football Playoff hopes.
With the track record the Bison have, North Dakota State over Iowa will be a popular upset pick this week.
As focused as Iowa has been over the past year-plus, the damage the Bison have done in the past to FBS teams has to be in the back of their mind at least a little. It does have its benefits and downfalls, though.
The Hawkeyes know they can’t take this team lightly, and Kirk Ferentz has stated multiple times throughout the week that he respects and recognizes the program they’ve built in Fargo, North Dakota. The Bison might not have the same fan base that Iowa State had at Kinnick Stadium last weekend, however, there are still North Dakota State fans walking around Iowa City.
The downfall of North Dakota State’s recent dominance is that they’re not going to be afraid of Iowa. Even though Easton Stick has never started against a FBS school, last season, Stick started eight games, including three in the postseason. He led the Bison to the Championship game as a freshman.
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Also, the idea that the Bison have been able to pull off multiple upsets, including one against a Big Ten team in 2011, could add more pressure if the game is close late. On the bright side, Kirk Ferentz has proven to be one of the best coaches in the nation at keeping his team focused and even-keeled in big situations.
Both teams have deadly running back combos who complement each other very well and can break off a big run at any time. If Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels Jr can run wild, again, the Hawkeyes will have no problem finishing non-conference play 3-0. At the same time, the Hawkeyes can’t overlook King Frazier and Lance Dunn, arguably the toughest duo in the FCS.
Either way, this is by far the toughest test of the young season for Iowa. North Dakota State has gone to overtime in both of their games against top-10 FCS teams, however playing in Iowa City is a lot different.
This will be a great early season test for the Hawkeyes. I expect North Dakota State to play them tough, although the Hawkeyes have too much depth and talent on both sides of the ball. Iowa should escape, but it’ll probably be their first win by fewer than 20 points.