IOWA CITY, Iowa – Is it just me, or is anybody else tired of the North Dakota State love fest?
I applaud the Bison for what they’ve accomplished because winning five consecutive national championships in anything is incredible, let alone the second highest level of college football.
Dynasties are few and far between because the requirements are so difficult.
North Dakota State easily qualifies as a dynasty with its current run, which is more like a long march of consistency and dominance.
It takes 20 playoff victories in a row to win five consecutive FCS national titles as Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz pointed out Tuesday at his weekly press conference.
“That’s an amazing run,” Ferentz said. “That’s almost really hard to fathom in some ways.”
Ferentz is right, so I get it.
North Dakota State’s dominance truly is amazing, even more so when you combine its 8-3 record against FBS opponents. The Bison have won five consecutive games against FBS opponents since 2010, the five opponents being Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State and Iowa State.
So this is not a team to be taken lightly, but a team that deserves respect and admiration.
At some point, though, the praise becomes too much.
By Thursday morning, I had reached that point, part of the fallout from Tuesday’s press conference in which the Iowa players made North Dakota State sound like the greatest team in the history of organized sports.
Ferentz was the same way on Tuesday, and again during his Wednesday radio show, dishing out one compliment after another.
In fairness, Ferentz raves about every opponent because he respects every opponent and because that is just Ferentz’s way.
His players are the same way, although, you’ll hear an Iowa player say “I hate Iowa State” every once in a while.
There was none of that talk on Tuesday as the Iowa players discussed the challenge of facing the Bison.
“I feel like we’re all aware of what kind of team North Dakota State is,” said Iowa all-America cornerback Desmond King. “They’ve won five straight national titles and they’ve beaten plenty of (teams) from big five, power conferences.
“So we’re looking forward to them. And I know they’re going to come in here and play their best.”
It isn’t just the North Dakota State team that has been put on a pedestal this week, but also its fans, who are sort of a mini version of Iowa fans when it comes traveling to road games, with as many as 7,000 expected to be in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
But there is also a flipside to this story, a side in which the Bison are two-touchdown underdogs against the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes.
It won’t matter how many fans North Dakota State has at the game on Saturday if Iowa plays up to its potential.
That isn’t meant as criticism for North Dakota State, but rather a reminder about its opponent on Saturday.
Two games doesn’t tell us much about the Hawkeyes. But when you win those two games by a combined score of 87-24, as is the case with Iowa, and do so with a roster filled with key players from last season’s team that finished undefeated in the regular season and 12-2 overall, there is reason to be optimistic and reason to be expect victory on Saturday.
Expecting victory is different than assuming victory, the latter being arrogant and dangerous.
There is also a flipside to North Dakota State’s success against FBS teams in that none of teams it has defeated were very good at the time.
A victory over this Iowa team would easily top all the previous victories over FBS teams.
The rosters for both teams are different in that Iowa’s is filled with players who could’ve easily had a scholarship to North Dakota State, whereas North Dakota State’s roster is filled with players who didn’t have a scholarship offer from Iowa.
That might give the Bison an emotional spark on Saturday. But it takes more than emotion to pull off an upset of this magnitude.
You wonder if the players and coaches from the previous FBS teams spent so much time praising the Bison heading into a game that losing almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This Iowa team should be able to rise above any type of mental block.
From what I can tell, this isn’t one of North Dakota State’s strongest teams on paper, whereas Iowa is loaded with experienced players and with star power.
The Hawkeyes should be able to run against any FCS team. Combine that with C.J. Beathard’s presence at quarterback and with a defense that was suffocating against Iowa State and Iowa should easily have enough firepower to conquer this dynasty.
Turnovers could alter the script, as could injuries to key players.
Iowa wouldn’t gain much from winning on Saturday in terms of perception, but it would suffer greatly from losing – even to a dynasty.
The best team doesn’t always win. But the best team should win on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
And that is the team nobody seems to be talking about.
Iowa 35, North Dakota State 20