FCS Playoffs: Monmouth at Northern Iowa
FCS Playoffs First Round
The Matchup - Monmouth (9-2) at Northern Iowa (7-4)
Kickoff - 5 p.m. ET Saturday at UNI-Dome (16,324) in Cedar Falls, Iowa
Coverage - ESPN3
Series - First meeting
Players to Watch - Monmouth: QB Kenji Bahar (190 of 303, 2,227 yards, 15 TDs, 9 INTs), RB/KR Pete Guerriero (166 carries, 1,017 yards, 9 TDs), WR Reggie White Jr. (67 receptions, 793 yards, 8 TDs), SS Mike Basile (113 TT, 87 Solos, 2 BK); Northern Iowa: QB Eli Dunne (180 of 296, 2,157 yards, 21 TDs, 10 INTs), RB Marcus Weymiller (170 carries, 676 yards, 8 TDs), WR Daurice Fountain (53 receptions, 776 yards, 9 TDs), LB Jared Farley (109 TT, 6 TFL, 2 FR)
The Skinny - While Big South runner-up Monmouth is making its first-ever FCS playoff appearance, Northern Iowa is making its 19th, including the 10th under coach Mark Farley. The visiting Hawks will first try to run the ball with Guerriero, but Bahar will have to make good reads in the passing game because UNI has nine interceptions in its last four games. Safeties Basile (an FCS-high 87 solo tackles) and Teddie Martinez (5 INTs) are rangy playmakers. UNI's offense is tied for first in the FCS in red zone efficiency, scoring in 35 of 38 trips (92.1 percent). All of Weymiller's rushing stats have come in the last six games, including four 100-yard performances, as the Panthers have won five times. The defense is particularly opportunistic with the pass rushers setting up a secondary led by safety Elijah Campbell (4 INTs, 12 PBU).
Up Next - The winner plays at No. 5 seed South Dakota State (9-2) in the second round Dec. 2.
Prediction - The Panthers are always playing well at this time of the season - a superb 52-9 in November games in Farley's 17 seasons. Northern Iowa, 37-17.