Monmouth at Northern Iowa FCS Football 2017 Playoffs First Round Breakdown

Monmouth (9-2) at Northern Iowa (7-4), Saturday 5:00
Monmouth has a season that almost nobody else saw coming. Sure, there were a few who saw the potential for a decent season, but challenging for the Big South automatic bid into the final game of the season? Not so much. Statistically, if you look at the Hawks, you see a very balanced attack. In fact, they rush for more than they pass and that’s with standout WR Reggie White, Jr. catching passes all over the field. The offense is very potent because of these traits. Defensively, they’re sometimes shaky, giving up some crooked numbers on the scoreboard. They also rank below average against their opponents on 3rd down. However, they are one of the better punt returning teams in the FCS, averaging over 14 yards per return. Those are the kinds of ‘flip the field’ plays that makes all foes nervous.
Northern Iowa appeared left for dead a month ago following a brutal stretch in the schedule where they played five consecutive opponents ranked in the Top 15. They came out of it 3-2, then won their final two against bottom feeders. When looking at UNI’s overall numbers, you wonder how they’ve got it done. Nothing stands out as particularly great, except for red zone efficiency. Over 92% of the time they get inside the 20, they score, that’s best in the nation. You know playing in the MVFC has them prepared. And perhaps the stat of the week, head coach Mark Farley in his 17 years at UNI, is 52-9 in the month of November.
Monmouth has to be mildly upset about having to travel to the Midwest. But they get a game inside a dome, so the weather issue won’t be an issue at all. Northern Iowa tends to play games close, regardless of the opponent, so Monmouth will likely be in it until the end, unless the Panthers get off to a fast start. Then it could be a long flight back to New Jersey.
Projected Score: Northern Iowa 30, Monmouth 20