UNI Snubbed From FCS Playoffs Despite Talent, Hot Finish
In a year where expectations were high and the Panthers finished at 6-5 and 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, UNI will not make an appearance in the 2022 FCS Playoffs.
As always, Northern Iowa's schedule was a gauntlet from the beginning, as the Panthers fell to FBS Air Force, lost a matchup in the hostile Alerus Center against North Dakota, and dropped a game against the now-No. 2 team in the country, Sacramento State at home.
An 0-3 start to the season is never ideal when facing some of the best teams in the country in your own conference.
The Panthers went 6-2 the rest of the way with their only losses coming at the hands of Illinois State 23-21 at home and against No. 1 South Dakota State on a last-second field goal.
From the second game of the season, the Bodie Reeder-led offense really took shape, being led by starting quarterback Theo Day. The Michigan State transfer finished the season as one of the best quarterbacks in the MVFC and the FCS, passing for 3,121 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season. Wide receiver Sam Schnee also greatly benefited from the new offense, finishing as Day's leading receiver with 48 catches for 764 yards and three touchdowns. Sergio Morancy added six touchdown catches.
The running game benefitted greatly from Day's passing efficiency, as Vance McShane and Dom Williams paired for 1,485 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Following the tough start and their 2-4 record through six weeks, Coach Mark Farley righted the ship defensively as well, significantly improving the Panthers' tackling, pass coverage, and third-down defense. Spencer Cuvelier finished the season leading the team in tackles (90), TFL (6), and tied for the lead in sacks (3). Woo Governor and Benny Sapp III led UNI in interceptions with four.
Junior kicker Matthew Cook officially took hold of the MVFC and UNI career record for field goals made, booting through a 26-yarder in yesterday's 58-14 win over USD to reach 65. He passed the previous leader, Billy Hallgren who put up 64 between 2006 and 2010. Cook finished the season with 67, and he has another year of eligibility remaining.
Other MVFC teams that made the playoffs are No. 1 seed SDSU, No. 3 seed North Dakota State, and unseeded North Dakota. Youngstown State was another fringe playoff team that did not get in.