Iowa falls to North Dakota State 23-21, suffering their first regular season loss since the 2014 regular season. They left points on the field but more shocking was the fact that they got beat by the Bison at their own game. They were not able to control the line of scrimmage at all in the second half. North Dakota State held them to under 50 rushing yards while running the ball down the Hawkeye defense's throat in the second half.
Derek Young of Hawkeye Insider shares his takeaways immediately following the disappointing loss.
BEAT AT THEIR OWN GAME
Iowa will not win games when they are not able to run the ball. Compound that by their inability to stop the run and get off the field in the second half and the result of Saturday's contest against North Dakota State comes as no surprise. The Bison controlled the line of scrimmage in the second half and that is where and when they won the game. The Hawkeyes finished with only 34 rushing yards and North Dakota State totaled 239 yards on the ground. That is not a winning recipe and it's most assuredly a losing recipe when you're Iowa and that is where you have to win the games.
HAVE TO BE AT YOUR BEST AGAINST NDSU
FCS or not, you have to be at your best against North Dakota State. They are a team that has a history of winning and they know how to pull them out just as Iowa does. Iowa needs their best players to play at optimal level to win because of the type of program they run. And you have to play a clean game to beat a team as sound and fundamental and physical as North Dakota State. Simply put, Iowa did not play a clean game and they were not at their best. Beathard was far from sharp. There were missed assignments on the offensive line. Akrum Wadley was limited and that showed up as well. The losses of Sean Welsh and James Daniels were felt. There were uncharacteristic dropped passes. There were many missed tackles. You can talk about scheme and in-game coaching decisions all you want, and there are some to criticize, but the game was lost by mental mistakes, uncharacteristic play, and the best players not being at their best.
You can be upset all you want at some of the coaching decisions and calls in the second half but they left points on the field and blew some opportunities in the first half that cost them later in the game.
They didn't stop the run on defense and that is a major problem, especially since the same problems arose against Miami (OH) in the season opener. But big plays were sprung by the Bison and drives extended just by simply not making the tackles they needed at times, especially on third downs. Drives were extended because of missed tackles. Big plays were had by missed tackles. Sure they got beat at the line of scrimmage but they probably still escape with a victory if they just make half of the many tackles they didn't convert.
DON'T LET NDSU BEAT YOU TWICE
As disappointing as the loss to the Bison is, the Hawkeyes have to put it in the past and move on. Many of the team goals are still in place. They lost to a good team. They lost to a good team where you have to be clean against and Iowa just wasn't on this day. But it can still be a successful season and many of the mistakes are correctable and easy fixes. But it won't get completed if they dwell on the loss and can't rebound from it. This is a type of loss that can stick with a team. If Iowa's maturity and leadership shows up in the locker room, it won't happen and they can still grind through the Big Ten schedule and win the West and be in Indianapolis just as they were a season ago. They're not all a sudden an average football team. They're still more than capable of a Big Ten Championship appearance but their ability or inability to put this loss in the rear view mirror will determine that.