(STATS) - Back in his home state, North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman kept telling his players that they belonged on the field with Big Ten power Iowa.
The five-time defending FCS champion Bison didn't need a lot of convincing. They tend to beat almost every opponent - FCS or FBS.
Cam Pedersen's 37-yard field goal as time expired gave the top-ranked Bison a stunning 23-21 win over 13th-ranked Iowa as a sellout crowd of 70,585 watched at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
The victory was North Dakota State's sixth straight over FBS programs since 2010 and ninth in 13 all-time matchups. It matched James Madison's 21-16 win over No. 13 Virginia Tech in 2010 for the second-highest FBS team to lose to an FCS team. Appalachian State stunned No. 5 Michigan 34-32 to open the 2007 season.
Iowa (2-1) had been 13-0 against FCS teams.
"That's a great football team we beat," said Klieman, a native of Waterloo and a graduate of Northern Iowa. "I'm so proud of our guys.
"You can't tell anybody in our locker room we're not good enough to beat anybody. That's the heart of a champion."
Pedersen had missed a 50-yard field goal with NDSU trailing 21-14 early in the fourth quarter. But his game-winner capped a drive in which the Bison got the ball at their 34 with 1:53 left. Easton Stick went 29 yards on a quarterback draw to start the possession.
NDSU had closed within 21-20 on Stick's 7-yard touchdown pass to Chase Morlock with 3:41 left in the game, and rather than try for the extra point to tie it, the Bison went for the two-point conversion but a pass failed.
"If we didn't make it, I thought we could stop them," Klieman said. "I thought our offense was kind of wearing them down."
The NDSU defense stopped Iowa's ensuing possession, with safety Robbie Grimsley sacking Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard for a 9-yard loss on third down.
Beathard passed for three touchdowns, including two to wide receiver Matt VandeBerg. But NDSU imposed its will, owning the game clock for 36 minutes, 40 seconds while outgaining the Hawkeyes 363-231 in total yards, including 239-34 on the ground.
King Frazier carried the ball 16 times for 99 yards and a touchdown. Stick, a redshirt sophomore who is 11-0 as a starter, was 11 of 19 for 124 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
NDSU's first touchdown came on MJ Stumpf's 21-yard interception return with 2:26 left in the first quarter. Fellow linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker hit Beathard from his blind side and the quarterback's pass popped in the air to Stumpf, who had open space to the end zone and a 7-0 Bison lead.
"Am I shocked that we lost? Yeah, to an extent," Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson said. "But those guys came ready to play."