The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has officially announced the teams and first round pairings for the 2015 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS). The 16-team event kicks off on Nov. 21 at eight campus host sites. The quarterfinal pairings will be announced on Nov. 22.
This year’s field includes 10 automatic qualifiers and six at-large selections. Automatic berths were given to teams that won their conference regular-season title and were ranked within the top 20 of the final regular-season NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. At-large bids given to the next highest ranked teams that did not claim an automatic spot.
The 60th annual NAIA Football National Championship, presented by Waste Pro, is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 19 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The City of Daytona Beach will host the event at Municipal Stadium for the second-straight season. For information on the NAIA’s partner hotels and details on the championship week schedule details, visit http://bit.ly/NAIARaceToDaytona2015.
• Seven teams from the 2014 FCS are in the field again this year – Campbellsville (Ky.), Grand View (Iowa), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Marian (Ind.), Morningside (Iowa), Saint Xavier (Ill.) and Southern Oregon.
• Top-ranked and Great Plains Athletic Conference champion Morningside is making its 12th-consecutive appearance in the FCS, which is the longest active streak in NAIA Football.
• The Mustangs, who are 14-11 all-time at the event and 9-2 in the first round, have reached the quarterfinals in nine of the last 11 seasons, including a national runner-up finish in 2012.
• Dickinson State (N.D.) owns the most playoff appearances among the qualifiers with 16. The Blue Hawks, who won their first-ever North Star Athletic Association crown this season, are 5-15 all-time in the FCS and qualified for the first time since 2010.
• Saint Francis (Ind.) (15), Baker (Kan.) (14), Morningside (12) and Saint Xavier (10) are the other clubs that have qualified for the event 10-or-more times.
• Saint Francis owns the most FCS victories among the qualifiers with 21. Additionally, the Cougars are 12-2 all-time in the FCS First Round, including a run of 11-straight victories.
• Point (Ga.) and Reinhardt (Ga.) are the two newcomers to the FCS.
• Four teams in the field have previously won national championships – Southern Oregon (2014), Grand View (2013), Marian (2012) and Saint Xavier (2011).
• Southern Oregon looks to become the first team to repeat as national champion since former member Sioux Falls (S.D.) accomplished the feat in 2008 and 2009. The Raiders open the first round against Kansas Wesleyan.
• Saint Francis (9-0) is the only unbeaten team remaining in NAIA football. Last season, no unbeaten teams were in the playoffs – the first time since 1994.
• Doane (Neb.), which last appeared in the FCS in 1999, snaps the longest drought among the qualifiers. The Tigers are 3-4 all-time in four previous trips.
• Grand View (10-1) enters the FCS with the longest active winning streak at 10 games. Saint Francis and Tabor are next with nine-game streaks.
• Ten of the NAIA’s 12 conferences are represented in the first round of the FCS, including multiple programs from the Frontier Conference, Great Plains Athletic Conference, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), Mid-South Conference West Division (MSCW) and Mid-States Football Association Mideast League. The two conferences that failed to have representation did not have a team in the top 20 of the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, which is a requirement to qualify for postseason in NAIA football.
• The MSCW boasts the most teams in the playoffs with three – Campbellsville, Lindsey Wilson and Reinhardt. This is the first time a conference has three teams in the FCS since the Heart of America Athletic Conference and the KCAC accomplished the feat in 2013.
• Since the NAIA returned to one division in 1997, FCS First Round hosts own a 112-32 all-time record, including a perfect 8-0 mark a season ago. Last year’s host-sweep was the first time that home teams have gone undefeated in the first round since 2009.
2015 NAIA Football Championship Series Qualifiers (alphabetical)
|Baker (Kan.)||Heart of America Athletic South Champion||10-1||14th||12-13|
|Campbellsville (Ky.)||Mid-South West Champion||8-2||4th||1-3|
|Dickinson State (N.D.)||North Star Athletic Champion||8-2||16th||6-15|
|Doane (Neb.)||At-Large No. 3||9-1||5th||3-4|
|Grand View (Iowa)||Heart of America Athletic North Champion||10-1||4th||5-2|
|Kansas Wesleyan||At-Large No. 4||10-1||3rd||0-2|
|Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||At-Large No. 6||8-2||2nd||1-1|
|Marian (Ind.)||At-Large No. 1||8-2||5th||10-3|
|Montana Tech||Frontier Champion||9-1||8th||3-7|
|Morningside (Iowa)||Great Plains Athletic Champion||10-1||12th||14-11|
|Point (Ga.)||The Sun Champion||8-2||1st||0-0|
|Reinhardt (Ga.)||At-Large No. 5||9-1||1st||0-0|
|Saint Francis (Ind.)||Mid-States Football Mideast Champion||9-0||15th||21-14|
|Saint Xavier (Ill.)||Mid-States Football Midwest Champion||7-3||10th||15-8|
|Southern Oregon||At-Large No. 2||8-2||6th||8-4|
|Tabor (Kan.)||Kansas Collegiate Athletic Champion||10-1||5th||2-4|
2015 NAIA Football Championship Series - First Round Schedule (all times TBD)
Saturday, Nov. 21 | Campus Sites
Game 1 – Saint Xavier (Ill.) (7-3) at Morningside (Iowa) (10-1)
Game 2 – Point (Ga.) (8-2) at Baker (Kan.) (10-1)
Game 3 – Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (8-2) at Grand View (Iowa) (10-1)
Game 4 – Reinhardt (Ga.) (9-1) at Saint Francis (Ind.) (9-0)
Game 5 – Dickinson State (N.D.) (8-2) at Montana Tech (9-1)
Game 6 – Campbellsville (Ky.) (8-2) at Marian (Ind.) (8-2)
Game 7 – Kansas Wesleyan (10-1) at Southern Oregon (8-2)
Game 8 – Doane (Neb.) (9-1) at Tabor (Kan.) (10-1)