Jeffrey Becker/USA Today

Iowa Football: What We Know About North Dakota State

Iowa takes on their toughest opponent so far this year in the North Dakota State Bison on Saturday. Here is what we know about Chris Klieman's team.

The Iowa Hawkeyes made quick work of the Iowa State Cyclones last Saturday to hold onto the Cy-Hawk trophy for at least another season. They'll enter week three 2-0, but will be facing their toughest opponent yet in the North Dakota State Bison, the number one ranked team in FCS.  Here is what we know about the Bison.

Five Straight

The Bison have won five straight FCS National Championships, including last years when they beat Jacksonville State in impressive fashion, 37-10.  Led by Carson Wentz, who actually missed a good chunk of time last season, the Bison crushed J'Ville State.  They've become the class of the FCS and many believe they could compete in a conference like the MAC or the Mountain West.

Iowa players and coaches were quoted today saying that the Bison remind them of teams like Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Stanford. 

https://twitter.com/DYoungScout/status/775763055418290176

Iowa will be taking the Bison very seriously on Saturday.

Beating Up on the FBS

The Bison have beaten an FBS team the last five times they have played one.  It started with Kansas back in 2010 and then continued with Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State, and then it ended with a victory in Ames over the Cyclones in 2014.  FBS teams have had literally zero success with the Bison.

It almost makes you wonder why teams continue to schedule them.  They don't really gain anything from playing the Bison and all you're doing is taking a chance at losing to an FCS team in your own building.  By now, the Bison have garnered a reputation, so I'm sure a loss to them wouldn't be a giant deal, unless you're a top 15 team in the country like Iowa.

The Bison are dangerous, and they will be ready on Saturday.

No Wentz, No Problem

Last season, Carson Wentz, this past years number two overall pick in the NFL Draft, was the leader of this North Dakota State team.  However, his backup, Easton Stick started more games than he did due to an injury.  Wentz started seven and Stick started eight.  

Wentz's stats looked a little better on paper, but Stick was no slouch.  He completed 90 of his 147 pass attempts for 1,144 yards, threw 13 touchdowns, and just four interceptions in his freshman season.

Now, I'm not saying Stick is Wentz, but as a freshman he did a heck of job and will be ready as he enters his sophomore season.  In his first two games this season he has completed 34 of 53 passes, thrown four touchdowns, one interception, and for 451 yards.

Stick is talented and could give the Hawkeyes issues on Saturday morning.

Defense Has Been Shaky

So far, it's been a little rough sailing on the defensive side of the football for the Bison.  

They are allowing nearly 31 points per game over the course of their first two contests and most of the damage is being done through the air.  They have given up an average of 272 yards per game through the air which would suggest that C.J. Beathard could have a field day with his wideouts.

They've been better on the ground, giving up just an average of four yards per rush, but with Iowa's dynamic duo in the backfield, that could change on Saturday.  Assuming Akrum Wadley is at full strength.

Like a Big Ten School

When you watch the Bison play they kind of remind you of a Big Ten school.  They are smart, tough, physical, and disciplined.  They don't turn the ball over much, they have quarterbacks who are good decision makers, their linemen are mean and physical in the trenches, and it's blatantly obvious why they beat FBS teams.

They don't beat themselves and they give you everything they have on every play.  That would be a big reason why they've won five straight national championships.  Oh, and they've got a heck of a coach in Chris Klieman. 


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories