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North Dakota State fends off upset bid from upstart Iowa

The five-time defending champion Bison needed a late field goal to beat their lowly Big Ten opponent.

North Dakota State v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Two years ago, we wrote a post about North Dakota State. It was called STOP SCHEDULING NORTH DAKOTA STATE and it warned teams against playing the then-three-time defending FCS champion Bison. It ended like this:

[to] the FBS teams dumb enough to schedule them? You're paying somebody to dig your own grave.

Next up is Iowa, in 2016. We look forward to writing this same post in two years.

Well, it’s been two years. Now the Bison are five-time defending FCS champions. And here I am writing the post I said I’d be writing two years ago.

No. 13 Iowa played North Dakota State on Saturday, and it lost 23-21 on a 37-yard Cam Pedersen field goal with the clock expiring.

North Dakota State has now won six consecutive games against FBS teams dating back to 2010. They’ve collected $2.175 million from the teams they beat, including $500,000 from Iowa today.

Hypothetically, this was an upset — the Hawkeyes were 14.5-point favorites. And this is only the fourth time an FCS team has ever beaten a ranked opponent — App State at Michigan, James Madison against Virginia Tech and Eastern Washington over Oregon State.

You see, this is supposed to be a good Iowa team. The Hawkeyes went 12-0 in the regular season last year and made the Rose Bowl. (What happened in the Rose Bowl? Who knows!)

Iowa feels so good about the state of its football program that it gave Kirk Ferentz a 43-year, kajillion-dollar extension the other day. (Slight exaggerations on the numbers there.)

And this isn’t the strongest North Dakota State team. NDSU lost Carson Wentz to the NFL — he got drafted No. 2 overall and has been pretty okay in the NFL. And the Bison have gone to overtime twice, although they’ve won both games.

But the Bison legit whooped the Hawkeyes. NDSU outgained Iowa by 132 yards. They ran the ball down Iowa’s throat for 239 yards while only allowing 34 yards rushing on 25 carries, a dismal 1.4 yards per attempt for the Hawkeyes. NDSU plays power football and it completely overpowered a Power 5 team. The Bison won on a last-second field goal, but that doesn’t do justice to the thoroughness with which they beat Iowa.

There are so many reasons North Dakota State should not be able to do this. They aren’t allowed as many scholarships as Power 5 teams. They don’t have a budget as big as Power 5 teams. They don’t have the recruiting cachet as Power 5 teams. Even as the best team in the FCS, they shouldn’t be able to dominate the big boys.

And yet they consistently do. They’re the North Dakota State Bison, and they are unstoppable.

Luckily, teams have figured out the jig. NDSU only has two future games against FBS teams scheduled, the next being Oregon in 2020.

We look forward to writing this post again in four years.