Iowa football Game Report: North Dakota State Bison 23, Hawkeyes 21
Interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter served as omen for a loss
North Dakota State Bison linebacker Mj Stumpf (41) runs into the end zone to score a touchdown after intercepting a pass against Iowa in the first quarter of a college football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
North Dakota Bison fans celebrate a touchdown. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
Set up — The Hawkeyes faced a third-and-10 from their 26-yard line. This thing started going south on the shotgun snap. QB C.J. Beathard didn’t look like he was ready for it and the ball hit him in the gut. This would end up being the least of his problems.
What the heck happened — Remember in the Rose Bowl when Stanford ran a lot of games with its defensive lines and created numbers advantages? This looked a little like that. NDSU’s defensive tackle split the space between guard Boone Myers and tackle Cole Croston while the defensive end looped inside. Both players influenced Croston’s eyes.
Meanwhile, strongside linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker, who started the play lined up over a receiver in the slot, sprinted around Croston, who ID’d him but only after it was too late.
The result — Gee-Tucker blindsided Beathard, the ball popped in the air and linebacker M.J. Stumpf returned it 21 yards for a TD, giving the Bison a 7-0 lead. It was Iowa’s first turnover of the season.
Second place here was the holding call on Iowa TE George Kittle on the first play of the second half. It nullified a 63-yard run by running back LeShun Daniels. Iowa eventually punted and NDSU scored on its next drive for a 14-point swing that left the game tied at 14-14 with 8:06 left in the third.
F — Luckily for the Hawkeyes, they now enter the softer part of their schedule.
F — When you see a buffalo at a national park, don’t get out of your car and pet it. These are very dangerous beasts.
F — Remind me again: which team was supposed to be the Big Ten team that dominates on the line of scrimmage?
You’ve had a full week of text about North Dakota State, their phenomenal run of football success, and their rabid fans.
But one couldn’t help but notice just how many people traveled 600 miles or more from North Dakota to support their Bison. Just when has a visiting fan base rented out West High School for a 7 a.m. tailgate party?
Seeing vehicle after vehicle with North Dakota license plates streaming onto West’s grounds … that was different.
You knew this wasn’t Miami (Ohio) or North Texas as Iowa’s opponent when you were in a Cedar Rapids Starbucks at 7:30 Saturday morning and waited in line behind four NDSU supporters.
“I just hope it’s a good game,” said a woman in the coffee shop who said she was a friend of the family of a Bison player and wore an NDSU jersey.
“It’s an honor to be here,” Bison fan Damon Kelly of Fargo, N.D., told The Gazette in Kinnick Stadium’s parking lot.
Most NDSU fans got their tickets quite a while ago. This was a day they had long anticipated, and the distance from Fargo didn’t seem to bother any.
“It’s closer than Texas,” Kelly said. NDSU has played in Frisco, Texas, the last five years in the FCS national championship game, which it won each time.
37 — yard field goal by Cam Pedersen to win it for NDSU.
34 — Rushing yards for the Hawkeyes, a season low.
7 — Rushes of 10 or more yards allowed by Iowa.
6 — Straight wins against FBS opponents for NDSU.
4 — Drives of negative yardage for the Hawkeyes.
3 — Lead changes during the game.
1 — Losses to an FCS program by Iowa.
-9 — Rushing yards for Iowa in the second half.
For a time on Saturday morning, it appeared the Hawkeyes were going to get starting center James Daniels back, with head coach Kirk Ferentz even saying in his pregame radio interview that he looked good to go. Daniels wasn’t however, missing his second straight start in favor of sophomore Lucas LeGrand.
LeGrand lined up next to Keegan Render at guard, who was in for Sean Welsh, who also missed Saturday’s loss to NDSU to injury. Welsh injured his ankle in last week’s win against Iowa State. Both Daniels and Welsh were suited up and warmed up in pregame, but neither played a snap. Their absence was felt in the pass rush, which hit quarterback C.J. Beathard twice and sacked him twice more. One hit, while Beathard was throwing, resulted in an interception return for a touchdown.
Beathard was banged up a little as well during the game. On a scramble in the third quarter, Beathard dove forward for a first down and was hit hard in the left shoulder. He came out for a handful of plays, during which freshman Nathan Stanley stepped in and went 2 for 2 for 45 yards, including a 37-yard pass to George Kittle on his first pass. Beathard came back in to finish off the drive and threw a touchdown pass to Matt VandeBerg.
Running back Derrick Mitchell also missed Saturday’s game. Ferentz thought he had a chance to play Saturday, but believes he’ll be ready to go again next week. The Hawkeyes did get defensive end Parker Hesse back after missing most of the opener against Miami (Ohio) and all of the Iowa State game with an injured left hamstring.
“We played fine last week with those guys in there,” Ferentz said. “Injuries are a part of football, and we’re going to have more of those this year, it’s just all about how the guys in there play.”
Iowa heads on the road for its first game away from Kinnick Stadium next week. The Hawkeyes will play at Rutgers at 11 a.m. in Piscataway, N.J. The Hawkeyes (2-1) get the Scarlet Knights (2-1) coming off a 37-28 home win against New Mexico. Iowa has not lost a regular season Big Ten game since the final game of the 2014 season.