Northern Iowa 2015 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

Northern Iowa Panthers
Missouri Valley


Northern Iowa had to navigate a brutal schedule in order to reach the FCS playoffs. They lost their opener at Iowa State, but managed to slip past Eastern Washington and Cal Poly the following two weeks. Those were both huge wins for the Panthers, especially since trips to Illinois State and North Dakota State were coming up next. UNI lost both of those games to fall to 2-3 overall. A shocking home loss to Western Illinois left Coach Mark Farley and company needing to win out in order to reach the playoffs. And win out they did, finishing the regular season with five straight victories.

2015 Record: 7-4, 5-3
Coach: Mark Farley

Big Wins: 9/12 Eastern Washington (38-35), 11/7 Indiana State (59-13)
Bad Losses: 10/3 at Illinois State (13-21), 10/17 Western Illinois (19-24)

It has been the defense that has really stepped up down the stretch and the Panthers have great playmakers all over the field on that side of the ball. Deiondre’ Hall is one of the best cornerbacks in the country and he has picked off six passes this season. Tim Kilfoy is an experienced safety. His numbers aren’t as eye popping as they were a year ago, but Kilfoy is an experience senior who does what UNI needs him to do. Linebacker Brett McMakin is the team’s best tackler and a great leader in the middle of the defense. The strong secondary and all of the turnovers they make is in part due to one of the better pass rushes in the FCS. Karter Schult and Isaac Ales spend a lot of time in the backfield. Those two alone combined for 19.5 sacks and 34.0 tackles-for-loss.

While talented, Northern Iowa’s offense is pretty one-dimensional. Quarterback Aaron Bailey is not going to go out there and heave the ball around the field. In fact, the less he has to throw, the better off the Panthers will be. But what Bailey does do is run. He leads the team in rushing and has a knack for finding the end zone. Combine Bailey with Tyvis Smith and this is a very good team on the ground. The problem is when Northern Iowa needs Bailey to make plays with his arm. That usually does not turn out too well and sooner or later, if Northern Iowa wants to make a serious playoff run, Bailey is going to have to connect on a big, clutch pass.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Aaron Bailey, QB, 1,029 yards
Passing: Aaron Bailey, QB, 1,362 yards
Receiving: Daurice Fountain, WR, 493 yards
Tackles: Brett McMakin, LB, 95
Sacks: Karter Schult, DL, 12.0
Interceptions: Deiondre’ Hall, CB, 6

2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 210.9 (22nd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 160.8 (97, 8)
Total Offense: 371.7 (62, 7)
Scoring Offense: 26.9 (60, 7)
Rushing Defense: 112.6 (15, 1)
Pass Defense: 213.3 (57, 5)
Total Defense: 325.9 (26, 3)
Scoring Defense: 18.9 (20, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.90 (13, 1)
Sacks: 3.10 (7, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 3.10 (107, 8)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2014    First Round    Defeated Stephen F. Austin
2014    Second Round    Lost to Illinois State
2011    Second Round    Defeated Wofford
2011    Quarterfinals    Lost to Montana   
2010    First Round    Lost to Lehigh
2008    First Round    Defeated Maine
2008    Quarterfinals    Defeated New Hampshire
2008    Semifinals    Lost to Richmond
2007    First Round    Defeated New Hampshire
2007    Quarterfinals    Lost to Delaware
2005    First Round    Defeated Eastern Washington
2005    Quarterfinals    Defeated New Hampshire
2005    Semifinals    Defeated Texas State
2005    Championship    Lost to Appalachian State
2003    First Round    Defeated Montana State
2003    Quarterfinals    Lost to Delaware
2001    First Round    Defeated Eastern Illinois
2001    Quarterfinals    Defeated Maine
2001    Semifinals    Lost to Montana
1996    First Round    Defeated Eastern Illinois
1996    Quarterfinals    Defeated William & Mary
1996    Semifinals    Lost to Marshall
1995    First Round    Defeated Murray State
1995    Quarterfinals    Lost to Marshall
1994    First Round    Lost to Montana
1993    First Round    Lost to Boston University
1992    First Round    Defeated Eastern Washington
1992    Quarterfinals    Defeated McNeese State
1992    Semifinals    Lost to Youngstown State
1991    First Round    Defeated Weber State
1991    Quarterfinals    Lost to Marshall
1990    First Round    Lost to Boise State
1987    First Round    Defeated Youngstown State
1987    Quarterfinals    Defeated Arkansas State
1987    Semifinals    Lost to Louisiana Monroe
1985    Quarterfinals    Defeated Eastern Washington
1985    Semifinals    Lost to Georgia Southern

*all team stats through 11/14


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