IOWA CITY, Iowa – Saturday was a day of firsts for the Iowa football team. But not in a good way.
Iowa was upset by five-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State 23-21 at Kinnick Stadium, thanks to a 37-yard field goal by Bison kicker Cam Pedersen as time expired.
The victory by North Dakota State marks the first time Iowa has lost to an FCS opponent in 14 games.
Saturday’s loss also snapped a 14-game regular-season winning streak for Iowa, including nine straight victories at home.
Iowa’s last regular-season loss came in overtime against Nebraska on Black Friday in 2014.
"I’d say we lost to a really good football team today," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said when asked how he thought the loss would be perceived. "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."
Ferentz already was looking ahead just minutes after Saturday’ loss. Iowa will begin Big Ten play next Saturday at Rutgers.
"The challenge for us now is to, we got a feel for what it’s like, and we’re going to have to push forward here because we’re going to play more good teams this year," Ferentz said.
Senior C.J. Beathard also suffered his first regular-season loss as Iowa’s starting quarterback.
Iowa committed its first, and only, turnover of the season on Saturday as well. Beathard was hit as he threw in the first quarter, jarring loose the football. North Dakota State linebacker M.J. Stumpf caught the ball and then returned it 21 yards for the first score of the game.
"We thought we’d be able to run the ball little better," Beathard said. "Because that’s what we like to do is run the ball. Hats off to them. They’re a tough opponent and a tough team. We just have to move on. We’re going to watch the film tomorrow. There’s a lot of things to correct and a lot of things to fix. We just have to move past it on to the next week win or loss. We lost today and we got Rutgers next so we just move on to them."
Injury report: Junior running back Derrick Mitchell did not play on Saturday with an undisclosed injury.
Offensive linemen James Daniels and Sean Welsh also missed Saturday’s game because of injuries. It was the second consecutive game that Daniels has missed with an apparent meniscus injury.
"Yeah, they really didn’t practice much this week," Ferentz said. "James is working back from an injury. I think he should be able to go on Monday. Sean the same way. He came out of the game with an injury, worked a little bit yesterday. They could have played, but when a guy doesn’t practice, that’s a little bit tough to throw them in there.
"I thought (Mitchell) had a chance. I think he’ll be back next week. But he had an injury on Tuesday or Wednesday. I think it was Wednesday morning. It looked like he was going up on Thursday, but he didn’t feel good yesterday, so hopefully he’ll be back with us."
Sophomores Keegan Render and Lucas LeGrand both filled in for the injured linemen. LeGrand also started against Iowa State the previous Saturday.
Meerkat moving up: Senior receiver Matt VandeBerg now has 102 career receptions after Saturday’s game, tying Tevaun Smith and Karl Noonan for 20th on Iowa’s all-time list.
VandeBerg is now just five receptions away from passing Quinn Early on the all-time list.
Rushin’ roulette: Iowa was held to 34 yards rushing in Saturday’s game.
This marks the first time Iowa has recorded less than 100 yards rushing as a team since its Rose Bowl loss to Stanford in which it was held to 48 rushing yards.
Positive firsts: Iowa free safety Brandon Snyder recorded his first career interception on Saturday in the first quarter.
VandeBerg recorded two touchdown receptions. It was his first career multi-touchdown performance.
Silver linings: Graduate transfer punter Ron Coluzzi punted six times for an average of 45.5 yards. Coluzzi has yet to allow a return in 13 punts this season.
Senior tight end George Kittle had a career high 110 receiving yards. He matched a career high with receptions with five.
Kittle’s 51-yard reception in the second quarter was a career long.
Beathard threw three touchdown passes for the second straight game. He now has four career three-touchdown games and his 30 career touchdown passes are the ninth most is school history.
Eno goes off: Iowa running back recruit Eno Benjamin switched jersey numbers from five to eight on Friday night and went on to score eight touchdowns for his high school team.
Benjamin finished with 314 rushing yards on 24 carries and six touchdowns to go along with 147 yards passing yards and two touchdowns.
Benjamin switched his jersey number to honor a teammate who had recently been injured.