By RICK BROWN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Brandon Snyder had his first career interception Saturday. A memorable event in what was not a memorable finish.
Five-time FCS national champion North Dakota State did the honors, 23-21, stunning the 11th-ranked University of Iowa and a sellout crowd of 70,585 at Kinnick Stadium.
“They were physical, came off the ball hard, and finished plays,” said Snyder, the Hawkeyes’ sophomore free safety. “Their running backs ran hard and blocked downfield… they don’t win five national titles in a row by chance. They’re good.”
The Bison beat an FBS opponent for the sixth time in a row. It was Iowa’s first loss to an FCS team in 14 games. It also snapped the Hawkeyes’ 14-game regular-season winning streak, and nine-game winning streak at Kinnick.
“We’ve got to get back on the horse, starting (Sunday),” Snyder said. “We can’t dwell on it. We have to correct our mistakes and be better. That’s what it comes down to.”
Iowa football under head coach Kirk Ferentz is winning the physicality battle at the line of scrimmage, which includes success running the ball. That didn’t happen Saturday.
The Hawkeyes rushed for negative-7 yards in 14 second-half carries, and finished with just 34 yards for the game. North Dakota State rushed for 203 yards in 26 second-half carries and out-Iowa-ed Iowa.
“We didn’t play like we wanted to, hats off to them,” Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said. “They played really well and won the game fair and square. They like to run it down your throat. We didn’t come up and fill the gaps that we needed to.”
Asked where the biggest lapses were in Iowa’s defense, Jewell said, “They were everywhere.”
North Dakota State ran 68 plays from scrimmage, to 49 for Iowa. The Bison also had a 13:10 advantage in time of possession. The Hawkeye defense spent a lot of time on the field.
“I don’t think we were tired,” Snyder said. “They were just good. They kept getting off the ball, kept pounding it. They stuck to their game plan and kept making plays. We have to be better.”
But senior defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson said all that time on the field was a factor down the stretch, when North Dakota State rallied from a 21-14 deficit in the final four minutes.
“I guess fatigue kind of kicked in,” Johnson said.
Iowa opens Big Ten play at Rutgers on Saturday. The Hawkeyes will be bouncing back from a regular-season loss for the first time since the 2014 season.
“The biggest thing now is getting back to work,” Johnson said. “Win or lose, you have to look at the tape and see what you did wrong.”
Saturday also marked the first time in 15 regular-season starts that quarterback C.J. Beathard was on the wrong end of the final score.
“We just have to move past this,” Beathard said. “Rutgers is next.”
Iowa’s lack of a rushing game proved fatal.
“We thought we’d be able to run the ball a little better because that’s what we do,” Beathard said. “It wasn’t working (Saturday).”
Iowa’s tough day was magnified on the first play of the third quarter. The Hawkeyes were ahead, 14-7, when LeShun Daniels, Jr., broke free around the left end for a 62-yard gain to the Bison 3. But the play came back after tight end George Kittle was called for holding. Iowa’s running game never flexed its muscles again.
“It just didn’t feel like we could get in a groove,” Beathard said. ‘It was not a textbook Iowa performance.
“We didn’t come out and play Iowa football. We left a lot of plays out there, and didn’t play very well.”