The Bison lost 12 starters and their head coach after winning their third straight FCS championship last season, but they looked just as efficient as ever under new coach Chris Klieman, rallying from a 14-0 deficit for their fifth consecutive victory against FBS competition.
Crockett charged through a hole in the middle of the line and sped 80 yards for his team's first touchdown early in the second quarter -- the longest run of his career -- and the Bison dominated from then on to hand the Cyclones their third straight nonconference loss.
Carson Wentz, the backup quarterback the last two seasons, showed impressive poise as he picked apart an inexperienced Iowa State defense and finished 18 of 28 for 204 yards with no interceptions.
Iowa State came in determined to avoid a repeat of last year's opener, a loss to FCS Northern Iowa that started a spiral toward a 3-9 season, and the Cyclones looked sharp in scoring on two of their first three possessions.
But new coordinator Mark Mangino's offense stalled repeatedly once veteran center Tom Farniok went out with an apparent left knee injury late in the first quarter.
After Sam Richardson's 44-yard pass to touted recruit Allen Lazard set up Aaron Wimberly's 3-yard TD run for a 14-0 lead, Iowa State crossed midfield only once and that drive ended with an interception. North Dakota State turned the pick into Adam Keller's 19-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, putting the Bison up 17-14.
Crockett, coming off two straight 1,000-yard seasons, carried 17 times and added TD runs of 1 and 3 yards, the 1-yarder coming one play after Wentz hit Zach Vraa for 44 yards. Vraa consistently found openings in the secondary and finished with seven receptions for 82 yards.
Richardson won the starting job in a preseason competition with Grant Rohach, who led Iowa State to victories in its final two games last fall. He led the Cyclones with 58 yards rushing but his 20 completions in 31 attempts produced only 151 yards and he was intercepted twice.
The second interception, by Colten Heagle, set up Crockett's third touchdown. Fullback Chase Morlock capped the victory with a 66-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, delighting the green-and-gold-clad Bison fans in the stadium's southwest corner.
Along with Farniok, Iowa State lost two other starters early in the game. Quenton Bundrage, the team's leading receiver last year, injured his right knee on the fourth play and cornerback Kamari Cotton-Moya was ejected for targeting on North Dakota State's first offensive series.