The 2013 football season was one of the best for chaos in college football. No one was safe, and there are many games from the Group—I mean, non-BCS conferences—worth looking back. This is the Forgotten 5 2013 Rewind.
Five years ago, FCS and Group of Five teams won a handful of major upsets, and that’s just in week one alone. Three smaller teams stunned Big Ten and Big XII programs, and all three are equally embarrassing.
A last-minute interception stunned Iowa, one man outscored Iowa State on his own, and a late-game comeback lifted the eventual FCS Champion over the defending Big XII titleholder. Here’s how the Mess in the Midwest went down.
- Huskies stun the Hawkeyes (NIU over Iowa, 30-27)
Northern Illinois jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but over the next 15 minutes Iowa outscored the Huskies 17-7, tying the game. A last-minute touchdown gave Iowa the lead going into halftime.
An NIU field goal was the only score in the third quarter, but the Huskies tied the game with five minutes left. Quarterback Jordan Lynch, who threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns that day, hit Da’Ron Brown for the 33-yard score.
With 1:24 left in the game, Iowa took over at their own 45 yard line. The very next play was a pass, specifically an out route to the quarterback’s left.
Huskies safety Jimmie Ward read the play, jumped the pass, intercepted the ball and took it to the Iowa 30.
Two run plays set up the go-ahead field goal, and that would be the difference. NIU extended Iowa’s losing streak by a game, and began a 12-game win streak.
The Huskies, who were off back-to-back MAC championships, went undefeated in the regular season but lost the conference title game and later the Poinsettia Bowl. NIU was considered among the top non-BCS teams, but in the last year of its existence one could argue this game cemented that position.
- Panthers stifle the Cyclones (UNI over Iowa State, 28-20)
Two hours away, Iowa State, whose last game was a loss to Tulsa, welcomed the even closer Northern Iowa Panthers. The Panthers were 5-6 in 2012, but they ended the season on a three-game win streak.
The story of the game was David Johnson, the UNI running back. He ran for 199 yards and two scores, but he also caught for 41 yards and two scores. Those 24 points were more than the entire Iowa State team scored.
Johnson put the Panthers on the board first, but the Cyclones answered. He broke the tie with a nine-yard catch just five seconds into the second quarter, and eight minutes later he ran for his third touchdown, adding to the UNI lead. Iowa State scored again, going into halftime down 21-14.
ISU cut that lead to a single point with two field goals, the only scores in the third quarter. Two minutes into the fourth, Johnson took a 29-yard catch to the house, strengthening the Panthers’ lead. He nearly added another touchdown with less than two minutes remaining, but a fumble gave the Cyclones possession at their own 1-yard line.
The Panther defense held and Iowa State stayed in its own redzone. A fourth down pass play came up short, cementing the victory for UNI with 27 seconds left in the game.
The loss kicked off a 3-9 season for Iowa State, followed by a 2-10 season and another 3-9 season, both of which coach Paul Rhoads managed to survive. UNI was much more fortunate, going 7-5 and making the playoffs the following year.
- Bison stomp the Wildcats (NDSU over Kansas State, 24-21)
Iowa State hadn’t been even a divisional champion in 13 years (its last conference title was 1912), but Kansas State shared the Big XII title with Oklahoma in 2012, losing the Fiesta Bowl to Oregon. It welcomed defending back-to-back FCS champion North Dakota State to Manhattan—the college football equivalent of a Trojan Horse.
Seriously. The Bison are 6-0 in their last six games against FBS schools, a streak stretching from 2010 to 2016. Scheduling them is playing with matches and gasoline, but I digress.
The first half was quiet offensively. The Bison scored first, with under a minute left in the first quarter. Five minutes into the second, Kansas State tied the game—the score at halftime was 7-7.
A minute or so into the third quarter, Jake Waters connected with Tyler Lockett to give the Wildcats the lead. Four minutes later, a 17-yard run made it 21-7 Kansas State. Then, the comeback began.
The Bison drove the ball 75 yards down the field and cut the lead to a touchdown with a nine-yard pass. Then, following a Wildcat punt, they drove the ball 74 yards. Adam Keller kicked a 41-yard field goal, cutting the lead to four.
With nine minutes left in the game, the Bison forced another punt. For the next eight-and-a-half minutes, North Dakota State moved up the field chunk by chunk. Finally, with 28 seconds left in the game, quarterback Brock Jensen slipped into the endzone.
Like a bizarre example of foreshadowing—this game was on the Friday before Iowa-NIU—NDSU intercepted the pass on the Wildcats’ very next play from scrimmage. That sealed the 24-21 win.
Needless to say Kansas State did not repeat as Big XII champion. Snyder & Co. did beat Michigan in its bowl game to go 8-5, but that pales in comparison to NDSU’s undefeated season and third-straight FCS national title.
Up next in the Forgotten 5 2013 Rewind: The West Coast Washout.