History says Hawkeyes will heal well after upset
IOWA CITY, Ia. — It will take three months for the Hawkeyes to sort out Saturday’s place in history.
North Dakota State knocked down a few Iowa marks when Cam Pedersen’s game-winning 37-yard field goal snuck through the right goal post: A No. 11 national ranking, a 14-game regular season win streak, and early season expectations higher than Kinnick Stadium’s brick walls.
The 23-21 loss is Iowa’s first ever to an FCS opponent, and joins an unfortunate list of NCAA Division I upsets. But the last decade indicates it will bounce back before bowl season.
“Probably the only good news for us,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Saturday, “we’ve got another nine football games in front of us. And that’s where our focus has to go.”
Iowa is the fourth Associated Press-ranked FBS team to lose to an FCS opponent since the NCAA renamed Divisions I-A and I-AA in 2006. The previous three all dropped out of the poll the next week, but went on to post winning records. And one of them even won a conference title.
The top-rated Bison (3-0) brought a unique challenge to Iowa City, too, as the NCAA’s only program to ever win five consecutive national titles.
“We like it right where we’re at in FCS,” North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman said. “We have a playoff system that allows a lot of people an awful lot of opportunities. You can lose a football game or two and still have an opportunity to win a national championship and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”
The Hawkeyes likely won’t have the same playoff luxury. Saturday’s loss pushed them out of Sunday’s AP Top 25 and to the 25th spot in the Amway Coaches Poll.
But the three previous FCS over FBS upsets didn’t ruin seasons, either. Here they are — with AP rankings at game-time and their ultimate result — should Hawkeye fans be anxious about the national fallout ahead of the Big Ten schedule. Iowa was No. 13 in the AP poll entering Week 3.
2007: Appalachian State 34, No. 5 Michigan 32
One of the most famous upsets in college football history ended with a blocked field goal as time expired at the Big House. The Mountaineers’ celebration was the first game of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr’s final season, and the Big Ten powerhouse predictably plummeted out of the poll by Week 2.
Quarterback Chad Henne and running back Mike Hart couldn’t be kept down all season though, taking the Wolverines on an eight-game win streak. They advanced to a Jan. 1 bowl game and finished with a 9-4 record, ranked 18th.
2010: James Madison 21, No. 13 Virginia Tech 16
Iowa’s best-case scenario might be to follow in the footsteps of coach Frank Beamer’s Hokies. After taking an early 10-0 home lead on the Dukes, Virginia Tech collapsed and took the stunning Week 2 loss. Current Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was 10-of-16 passing with one touchdown and one untimely interception — like Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard’s early pick-six on Saturday — and James Madison held on.
The next week began an 11-game win streak for Virginia Tech, the last of which was an ACC Championship Game victory over Florida State. The Hokies eventually lost to Stanford in the Orange Bowl, but the blueprint for a high-scoring turnaround exists.
2013: Eastern Washington 49, No. 25 Oregon State 46
Current Nebraska coach Mike Riley was in charge of the Beavers when this Week 1 upset struck in Corvallis, Ore. Eastern Washington has remained in the upper echelon of FCS and took North Dakota State to overtime at the FargoDome just last week. Oregon State followed the loss with a six-game win streak and advanced to the Hawaii Bowl, finishing 7-6.
“I think the best thing to do is give them concrete stuff to improve on,” Riley told The Oregonian after the upset. “It’s motivating and it gives them an answer to some of the problems we have.”
By all accounts, the Bison gave Iowa a special set of problems on Saturday. Rushing for 203 yards after halftime and outmuscling the Hawkeyes when it mattered, NDSU claimed its sixth consecutive FBS win.
Iowa was easily the biggest prize of the pack. The previous five opponents finished their seasons with a combined record of 20-41, and that’s improved by Kansas State’s 8-5 mark in 2013.
“There were a lot of people that thought we could go toe-to-toe with Kansas State,” Klieman said. “There were probably a lot of people that didn’t think we could go toe-to-toe with Iowa.”
Ambitions of conference contention and repeat Big Ten West titles remain for the Hawkeyes, who have to hope they can right the ship this Saturday at Rutgers (2-1).
The last three ranked FBS teams to fall to FCS opponents have shown how it can be done.
“It has no bearing on our Big Ten play,” Iowa defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie said.
“It’s one of those situations where you’ve got to learn from it and move on.”