A look at the Iowa Hawkeyes first loss since 2014
North Dakota State came into this game as the top ranked FCS team. The Bison proved early why they’ve now won against their last six FBS opponents. The Iowa Hawkeyes knew they couldn’t take this team lightly, yet they looked like a mere shell of themselves.
It was a tough game the whole way for the Hawkeyes. The Bison took an early 7-0 lead when C.J. Beathard threw a pick-six as he was being hit. While it wasn’t Beathard’s fault, it did have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. The Hawkeyes answered with two touchdowns of their own, leading the game 14-7 at half.
The Hawkeyes and Bison went back and forth before Easton Stick threw his lone touchdown pass of the game with 3:41 left in the game to bring them within one point, 21-20. The Bison went for two but Iowa was able to make a stand.
On the preceding drive for the Hawkeyes, LeShun Daniels Jr wasn’t able to get anything going on the ground. Then, with 2:11 remaining, Kirk Ferentz burned one of his two final timeouts. He called a pass play but the Bison sacked Beathard for a loss of nine yards.
North Dakota State ended up kicking the game-winning field goal as time expired to take down the 13th ranked Hawkeyes 23-21. In a game where the Bison outplayed the Hawkeyes in nearly every facet of the game, the Hawkeyes almost escaped with a victory. If it weren’t for a few questionable calls by Kirk Ferentz near the end of the game, Iowa could be sitting at 3-0 right now.
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Either way, the Hawkeyes put themselves in a situation where the game relied on a field goal. Despite Cam Pedersen, the Bison’s kicker, terribly missing a 50-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, he kicked the 37-yard game winner with ease. Under pressure and everything, Pedersen walked up to the line and kicked it through the uprights.
Just as expected, the game was ultimately decided by the play in the trenches. The Hawkeyes sacked or hit Easton Stick a couple of times, but the Bison’s run game was unstoppable for most of the game, especially late in the fourth quarter.
The Bison averaged 4.9 yards per carry and ran for 239 yards. To put in perspective how dominating of a run game the Bison had, the Hawkeyes only gave up 284 rushing yards in the first two weeks combined. Whether it was King Frazier, Lance Dunn or Easton Stick, the Hawkeyes had no answer.
In fact, on the final drive of the game, Easton Stick ran for 29 yards on a quarterback draw, putting the Bison on Iowa’s 37 yard line. Once Stick broke loose, it was evident that the Hawkeyes likely weren’t going to escape with a win considering how well North Dakota State moved the ball all game.
On the other side, North Dakota State shut the Hawkeyes dominating running back down. LeShun Daniels Jr only rushed for 29 yards on 14 carries, while Akrum Wadley only had four carries for 20 yards. While the Hawkeyes defense wasn’t able to meet Frazier until he was already at the line of scrimmage, the Bison’s defense were constant visitors in the backfield.
The Hawkeyes biggest run came from LeShun Daniels Jr early in the second half. Daniels ran for 62 yards all the way down to the Bison two yard line, however a holding call on George Kittle brought the big run back and ruined the drive for Iowa.
- King Frazier and Lance Dunn each averaged at least 5.5 yards per carry. Frazier rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. The Hawkeyes couldn’t stop him in the fourth quarter as he drove the Bison down the field late in the fourth quarter.
- C. J. Beathard ran for four yards, picking up a first down in the third quarter. He got banged up on the play and had to be taken out for a couple of plays. Nate Stanley came in and threw a dime to George Kittle for 37 yards on his first throw. Stanley finished the game throwing 2-for-2 for 45 yards. Beathard finished the game but he might not be 100 percent the rest of the season.
- Dropped passes have cost the Hawkeyes a couple of touchdowns in the early season. In this game, it cost them a lot of first downs. Multiple players had easy dropped passes that could have gone for big gains. Against a defense that gave the Hawkeyes nothing all game, it proved to be crucial miscues.
- Iowa has been able to stay focused over the past year-plus. They didn’t seem to be as focused in their game against the Bison, though. They might not have overlooked them completely, however Iowa didn’t play near their best game.
The Hawkeyes will try to bounce back from their tough loss next week at Rutgers.