CSJ 2018 Second Round FCS Playoff Preview: Northern Iowa at UC Davis, How to Watch and Fearless Predictions

Northern Iowa at (6) UC Davis

When: Saturday, December 1, 4:00 PM PST
Where: Aggie Stadium, Davis, Calif.
TV/Streaming: ESPN College Extra, ESPN3

Northern Iowa Panthers (7-5)

Cedar Falls, Iowa
Missouri Valley Football Conference
Enrollment: 10,005
FCS Sagarin Rating: 97 (7 in FCS)

How They Got Here: The Panthers won its opening round playoff game at home to Lamar narrowly 16-13 to improve to 7-5 .

FCS Playoffs: Errthum’s 3 Field Goals, Panther Defense Lifts UNI over Lamar, 16-13

Key Player This Week: DE Rickey Neal has 53 tackles, 14.5 TFL, and 8.5 sacks on the season.  He and the Panther defense will need to perform well against the strong, especially in the passing game, offense of UC Davis.  How Neal the other line get pressure on Aggie QB Jake Maier will be the key to this game.

Courtesy of Des Moines Register

Fantasy Bonus Baby: RB Marcus Weymiller has rushed for 922 yards and seven scores.  He also has 14 receptions and two more touchdowns receiving.  Look for the Panthers to play ball control in this game to keep the time of possession and Weymiller, who had a season-high 128 yards against Lamar, will be a big part of the Panther offense this week.

UC Davis Aggies (9-2)

Davis, Calif.
Big Sky Conference
Enrollment: 30,066
FCS Sagarin Rating: 104 (9 in FCS)

How They Got Here: UC Davis is making its first ever Division I playoff appearance after tying for the Big Sky Conference title this year.  The Aggies are led by former Boise State and Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins, who was a UC Davis fullback in from 1981-82 and was a member of the DII national runner-up team in 1982.

The Aggies are one of the most prolific offenses this year in all of FCS. UC Davis’ 328.1 passing yards per game ranks third in FCS, and it’s sixth-best at 42.2 points per game. The only games that the Aggies didn’t score 40 points in were a 59-20 loss to Eastern Washington and a 30-10 loss to Stanford.

After giving up an average of 32 points per game last year, the UC Davis defense cut that number down to 27.8 this season, which is the fourth-best mark among teams in the Big Sky. It also finished second in the conference in both sacks and interceptions.

UC Davis was a DII power before moving up to DI in 2003 and were playoff eligible in 2007.

Best Win: at FBS San Jose State (44-38)

Worst Loss: at Eastern Washington (59-20)

Other Key Outcomes: FBS Stanford (30-10 L), San Diego (54-21 W)

Playoff Floor: Playing against a hard-nosed MVFC squad like UNI, the Aggies could see its playoff season last just one week if UNI plays like it did against South Dakota State earlier.

Playoff Ceiling: UC Davis could see a rematch against its worst loss to Eastern Washington in the quarterfinals but this seems like the ceiling for the the first time playoff participant.

Key Player This Week: QB Jake Maier has thrown for 3,387 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes with just six interceptions. He’s thrown for 300-plus yards five times, and has eight three-TD games this season.  While UNI likely will be keying on stopping the pass game, Maier will need to make the necessary reads at the line to get his team in the right play.

Courtesy of Sacramento Bee

Fantasy Bonus Baby This Week: WR Keelan Doss has racked up 1,054 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on 100 catches so far this season.  Even with UNI playing the passing game, look for Doss, who will likely be an NFL draft pick next spring, will get his share and should find the end zone in this game.

Fearless Predictions: 

Jamie: The Panthers have been in this position before, the Aggies have not. This game should be close all day, but the Aggie offense is just a little too much for the Panthers. UC Davis 34, Northern Iowa 31

Kent: The Panthers have played up and down all-season long.  Last week, it escaped a home win with its win over Lamar.  UNI will need to play its second team to be a first time playoff participant in the Aggies.  UC Davis is a stronger team especially in its passing offense but when UNI has played a strong team this year, it has showed up.  Look for the Panthers to play strong and get an upset in Davis. Northern Iowa 37, UC Davis 30

Chuck:Everything points to this game as being the most exciting of the second round – the surprising, high-octane offense of the Aggies versus the physical, aggressive pass rush of the Panthers.  Which side prevails?  I think the tough, demanding Northern Iowa schedule will be the difference.  Northern Iowa 27, UC Davis 24

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