IOWA CITY — That was "In Heaven There is No Beer" you heard Saturday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium. And, no, it wasn’t for the Hawkeyes.
The Iowa and North Dakota State football programs share a lot of DNA. They play roughneck power football on the lines of scrimmage. They find golden players where a lot of schools don’t bother mining. They have robust fan bases that love their teams and who celebrate victories with the "Heaven/Beer" polka.
The NDSU band boomed out the polka in the northeast corner of Kinnick just moments after Bison kicker Cam Pedersen sent a 37-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired, lifting the No. 1 team in FCS over the No. 11 team in the USA Today coaches poll, 23-21, before a sellout of 70,585 fans.
The west bleachers were full of Hawkeyes fans. All they could do was stare. It had to be somewhat surreal. The Hawkeyes just had their nine-game Kinnick winning streak broken by an FCS school, which also happened to trash Iowa’s 13-0 record all time against FCS opponents.
Iowa (2-1) won’t be No. 11 and might not be ranked Sunday. You heard Iowa people tell you all week how good the Bison (3-0) are. And they are. They were the team that was throwing the punches late in the fourth quarter.
The Bison’s 239 rushing yards and Iowa’s 34 tell you everything you need to know. This result will reverberate like the thundering the Bison did on the Hawkeyes in the fourth. Turn off the internet, ESPN and Colin Cowherd if you don’t want to hear the storm of invective that will camp over the Hawkeyes’ heads going into Saturday’s Big Ten opener at Rutgers (2-1).
What people outside of Kinnick and outside of Iowa hear is “FCS.” It stands for Football Championship Subdivision, in case you were wondering.
You probably weren’t wondering.
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“I’d say we lost to a really good football team today,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s as simple as that. I think anybody that was in the stadium today realized that’s a good football team. They play hard. They’re tough. They’re physical. They believe in themselves. They’ve been doing it for quite a while, but we played the 2016 team, and they were the better team than us today.”
The victory was NDSU’s sixth consecutive over an FBS opponent. The Bison sustained a massively physical effort, holding the Hawkeyes to three-and-outs in two of just four second-half possessions.
While QB Easton Stick directed two fourth-quarter scoring drives, the Bison held Iowa to seven plays for minus-9 yards.
“They just pounded it,” free safety Brandon Snyder said. “They came off the ball hard. They just out-physicaled us today. We have to be critical and get back on the film.”
Iowa had one drive in the second half that worked — a 10-play, 70-yarder that was fueled by a 37-yard completion from true freshman QB Nathan Stanley to tight end George Kittle. Stanley replaced senior C.J. Beathard, who injured his left shoulder/collarbone after squeezing every inch out of a third-down scramble to move the chains.
Beathard returned — and said after the game that he felt fine, by the way — and threw a 9-yard TD pass to wide receiver Matt VandeBerg to give the Hawkeyes a 21-14 lead with 2:12 left in the third.
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From there, Stick directed a 15-play, 80-yard drive, capped by his 7-yard TD pass to fullback Chase Morelock. Bison head coach Chris Klieman, a Waterloo native, decided to go for the 2-point conversion. The pass failed, but the message was clear.
Klieman believed the fourth quarter, and thus the game, would go NDSU’s way.
“I thought if we got it into the fourth quarter — this is no disrespect to the University of Iowa — they hadn’t played in one of those yet,” Klieman said, “I thought that would be an advantage to us.”
That’s exactly how it played out. Iowa held a 21-20 lead, had the ball at its 32 with 3:12 left and limped to a three-and-out. Stick took the first play 29 yards to Iowa’s 37. Klieman ran the clock down to five seconds. Pedersen did his thing.
Klieman didn’t blink on the decision to go for 2, either.
“We came here to win. Period,” the former Northern Iowa defensive back said. “We came here to win and if we didn’t make it, I thought we could stop them.”
Daniels tripped and fell for a 2-yard loss on first down. He netted a yard on second down. On third-and-11, Beathard read some movement from NDSU showing blitz. He paused, a lot of the O-linemen pointed at NDSU defenders and they still couldn’t stop the blitz.
Safety Robbie Grimsley sacked Beathard for a 9-yard loss to force the punt that eventually led to the green band playing “In Heaven There is No Beer” in Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa pointed at the Bison all week and said they were a great program. Iowa knew NDSU would run a power offense. Iowa knew the Bison would throw punches.
The Hawkeyes knew all of this. They pointed at the buffalo with eyes wide open and couldn’t get out of its way.
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