Undefeated Home Record on the Line when Redbirds Face the Panthers
Bradon Prate
Bradon Prate

Oct. 30, 2013

 Northern Iowa (4-4, 0-4 MVFC) at Illinois State (4-4, 3-2 MVFC)
 Date  Saturday, Nov. 2
 Location
 Normal, Ill.
 Kickoff
 1:07 p.m. CT
 Stadium
 Hancock Stadium
 Stadium Capacity
 13,391
 Radio  WJBC/Country Financial Illinois State Radio Network (Dick Luedke & Ted Schmitz)
 Watch  Comcast SportsNet Chicago (Kurt Pegler & Boomer Grigsby)
 Live Stats  GameTracker
 Game Notes  Illinois State | Northern Iowa | Missouri Valley Football Conference

PLAYER TO WATCH
Junior defensive tackle Bradon Prate did it all for the Redbird defense Saturday in a win against South Dakota last week. The Wauconda, Ill., native recorded three tackles, a sack, broke up three passes at the line of scrimmage and intercepted his first career pass to cap off an impressive performance that earned him MVFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Prate recorded three of ISU's 10 pass deflections in the game and his final of the day fell back into his arms for an interception that he returned for 43 yards late in the fourth quarter.

THE GAME
Illinois State (4-4, 3-2 MVFC) will wrap up the home portion of its schedule and look to finish the season unbeaten at Hancock Stadium for the first time since 1999, when it hosts Northern Iowa (4-4, 0-4 MVFC) Saturday on Senior Day. The game will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, with Kurt Pegler and Boomer Grigsby on the call.

THE SERIES
The Redbirds and the Panthers will meet for 30th time on Saturday, with UNI holding a 19-10 advantage over ISU in the all-time series dating back to 1972. The Panthers have won five out of the last seven meetings overall, but the Redbirds came away with a 33-21 at the UNI Dome last year.

THE COACHES
Illinois State: Brock Spack (Purdue, 1983) is in his fifth season as the head coach at Illinois State (32-22). Spack led the Redbirds to their first playoff victory since 2006, just the third nine-win season in school history and was a finalist for the 2012 Eddie Robinson Award.

Northern Iowa: Mark Farley (UNI, 1986) is in his 12th season as the head coach at Northern Iowa (108-50). Farley is the MVFC's all-time coaching wins leader with 64 league victories and has led the Panthers to seven conference championships, seven playoff appearances, three national semifinal appearances and one national title game appearance in 2005.

THE #REDBIRDFOOTBALL PROGRAM

  • Four FCS playoff appearances (1998, 1999, 2006, 2012)
  • Three-time FCS quarterfinalists (1999, 2006, 2012)
  • Four-straight winning seasons for the first time since the 1940's
  • The team is 21-6 at home under Spack's guidance.
  • ISU was 6-1 on the road last year, with a perfect 5-0 finish in the regular season.
  • The team set a program-record cumulative GPA in the Spring 2013 semester.

THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT

  • The University of Northern Iowa is located in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and has an enrollment of 12,159 students. The Panthers are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and play their home games at the UNI Dome (16,324).
  • After starting the season 4-0, including wins at Iowa State and against No. 9 ranked McNeese State, the Panthers have struggled at the start of Valley Football play with four-consecutive losses, the last three of which came in overtime.
  • UNI tied an FCS record with its third-straight OT loss, after the Panthers fell to South Dakota State, 37-34, last weekend. The Panthers tied Penn (2006) as the only two teams in FCS history to lose three-straight overtime games.
  • Junior running back David Johnson is listed on the 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List by The Sports Network. Considered one of the best running backs in a league full of talented ball carriers, Johnson has rushed for 956 yards and six touchdowns this season. He has five games with over 100-yards rushing and has scored at least one touchdown in five contests.
  • Quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen threw for a season-high 306 yards and three touchdowns in last week's loss to South Dakota State. He has thrown two-or-more touchdown passes in four games this season and moved up to seventh all-time at UNI in career touchdown passes after his three against the Jackrabbits.
  • Defensively, the Panthers have racked up 23 sacks and 51 tackles-for-loss on the season. They are led in both of those categories by senior defensive lineman Collin Albrecht, who has seven sacks and 11 TFLs on the season to go along with one forced fumble and 25 tackles.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS VS. UNI

  • Sept. 16, 1972 at Illinois State
    Illinois State scored 10 points in the final 3:18 of the contest to come away with a 24-14 win over Northern Iowa in the first-ever game played between the two schools. Quarterback Eric Scott rushed for a 2-yard score and also threw for a touchdown in the win for the Redbirds.
  • Nov. 4, 1995 at Illinois State
    Keith Goodnight rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns and Todd Kurz booted three field goals as ISU upset No. 13 ranked UNI at Hancock Stadium. The win snapped a five-game losing streak to the Panthers.
  • Oct. 10, 1998 at Northern Iowa
    Redbird quarterback Kevin Glenn threw for a UNI Dome record 457 passing yards on 35 completions to lead the Redbirds to a 38-23 victory over the Panthers on the road.
  • Oct. 22, 2005 at Illinois State
    Laurent Robinson hauled in 10 catches for 243 yards and Brent Hawkins set a school record with five sacks and 6.5 tackles-for-loss as the Redbirds defeated the No. 13 ranked Panthers 38-3 on Family Weekend.
  • Nov. 21, 2009 at Illinois State
    True freshman Matt Lancaster connects with senior Eyad Salem on an eight-yard touchdown pass with 0.6 seconds left on the clock to defeat No. 9 ranked UNI 22-20 in the season finale.


The Last Meeting
Illinois State33
Northern Iowa21
October 27, 2012
Cedar Falls, Iowa
No. 17 Redbirds Force Four Turnovers, Beat UNI 33-21
Matt Brown's 49 yard touchdown pass to James O'Shaughnessy with 7:38 to play secured the victory, as No. 17 Illinois State (7-2, 4-2 MVFC) held off Northern Iowa (2-6, 1-4 MVFC) by a final score of 33-21 Saturday night at the UNI Dome. Illinois State remains undefeated away from Hancock Stadium with a 4-0 road mark in 2012.


THE LAST TIME THEY MET (OCT. 27, 2012)
Matt Brown's 49 yard touchdown pass to James O'Shaughnessy with 7:38 to play secured the victory, as No. 17 Illinois State held off Northern Iowa by a final score of 33-21 Saturday night at the UNI Dome. The win was the first for the Redbirds at the UNI Dome since 2002 and only the team's third in 14 tries in Cedar Falls, Iowa. ISU's 7-2 start was its best since 2006, when the Redbirds opened the season 8-2.

HOME SWEET HOME
ISU is a perfect 4-0 and has posted a 21-6 record at Hancock Stadium in the last five seasons under head coach Brock Spack. In the team's four wins at home this year, ISU is averaging 386 yards of total offense and scoring 37 points per game, while allowing opponents 260 yards and 16.5 points per game. Contrast that with the Redbirds' performance in the four road losses, when they average 21 points per game and 341 yards of total offense, and allow an average of 51 points and 525 yards of total offense to opponents.

FINDING THE END ZONE
A total of 10 ISU players have caught touchdown passes this year, including senior Corey Shandrick and Scott Kuehn who each hauled in their first touchdown catch of the season vs. South Dakota (Oct. 26). Shandrick opened the scoring with a career-long 33-yard touchdown catch from Winkler in the first quarter, just his eighth reception of the season and second touchdown of his career. Kuehn's first career touchdown came on a 35-yard pass from Winkler in the second quarter and was just his third career catch in three seasons.

MAKE THAT FOUR IN A ROW
Illinois State did not have a running back rush for over 100 yards in the first four games of the season, but Marshaun Coprich has ended that streak with four-consecutive 100-plus yard rushing performances in the last four games for the Redbirds. Against South Dakota (Oct. 26), he made it four in a row when he rushed for 108 yards on a career-high 34 carries to become the first Redbird with four-straight games rushing over the century mark since 2007. Coprich started the streak by rushing for 124 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Western Illinois (Oct. 5) and followed that up with 110 yards and a touchdown against Youngstown State (Oct. 12). Then, against Indiana State (Oct. 19), the Victorville, Calif., native rushed for a career-high 137 yards on 18 carries and tied a career-best with three touchdowns against the Sycamores.

PRATE WAS GREAT
After helping Illinois State to a 28-14 victory over South Dakota (Oct. 26), junior defensive tackle Bradon Prate was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Week by the league office (Oct. 27). Prate did it all for the Redbirds on defense against the Coyotes. The Wauconda, Ill., native recorded three tackles, a sack, broke up three passes at the line of scrimmage and intercepted his first career pass. Prate recorded three of ISU's 10 pass deflections in the game and his final of the day fell back into his arms for an interception, which he returned 43 yards to the South Dakota 21-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

NINE IS FINE
With just nine pass completions, it would be hard for any Redbird quarterback to lead his team to victory. However, that's exactly what Blake Winkler did against South Dakota (Oct. 26), as he threw a career-high three touchdown passes on just nine completions to lead the Redbirds to a 28-14 victory. As interesting as that stat may look, it is not all that uncommon for a Redbird quarterback because Matt Brown was 9-for-21 in a 31-17 win over Western Illinois just two years ago on Nov. 5, 2011.

AMMONS LEADS THE WAY
The Illinois State offensive line has led the way for a 100-yard rusher the past four weeks and one of its members was recognized for that accomplishment, when right guard Rocco Ammons was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week by the league office (Oct. 28). Ammons had a stellar day in helping Illinois State improve to 4-0 at Hancock Stadium with a win over South Dakota (Oct. 26). The Warrenville, Ill., native graded out at 95 percent and led the way for running back Marshaun Coprich, who rushed for 108 yards on a career-high 34 carries against the Coyotes. Ammons also helped protect redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Winkler, who led the Redbirds to a win with a career-best three touchdown passes, despite completing just nine passes on the day.

WE ONLY NEED ONE
On two separate occasions in Illinois State's 28-14 victory over South Dakota (Oct. 26), the Redbirds need just one play to score. In the first quarter, Blake Winkler found Corey Shandrick for a 33-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter for a one-play drive. Later, in the third quarter, Marshaun Coprich took the first carry of the Redbird drive for 27 yards to the end zone for the score to give the Redbirds a pair of one-play scoring drives. The one-play scoring drives were the second and third of the season respectively, adding to the one-play, 12-yard drive that lasted just six seconds against Indiana State (Oct. 19).

QUICK STARTERS
With a touchdown on their opening drive of the game against Indiana State (Oct. 19), the Redbirds have scored on their opening possession of the game five times this season. ISU scored touchdowns on its opening drives in the first three games of the season, did not in the ensuing two games, but has in the last two wins at home. The early leads have not always led to wins for the Redbirds, who are 2-3 in games when they score on the opening drive.

SEEING RED
Converting on scoring chances in the red zone is crucial to a team's success, and has proved beneficial for the Redbirds so far in 2013. The Redbirds have converted on 23-of-26 scoring chances in the red zone this season (88 percent), thanks in part to a perfect 6-for-6 effort against Indiana State (Oct. 19). That mark ties the Redbirds for No. 17 in the country in red zone conversions and ranks them second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference behind Youngstown State (94 percent).

JUST TWO YEARS AGO ...
The Redbirds were 2-3 to start the 2011 season and rallied to win five of their last six games of the season to finish with a 7-4 record. Had it not been for a double-overtime loss to nationally-ranked UNI in the season finale, the Redbirds would have been one of the hottest teams heading into the FCS playoffs. The 2013 team would like to put a win streak together like that as well. With team's win over South Dakota (Oct. 26), ISU improved its record to 4-4.