KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Championship Schedule | Video Announcement) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the teams and first round pairings for the 2016 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS). The 16-team event kicks off action Saturday, Nov. 19 at eight campus host sites. The quarterfinal pairings will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 20.
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 announced Sunday. To access the Top 25 poll, click here. At-large bids were given to the next highest ranked teams that did not claim an automatic spot.
The 61st annual NAIA Football National Championship, presented by Waste Pro, is slated for Saturday, Dec. 17 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The City of Daytona Beach hosts the event at Municipal Stadium for the third-straight season. For fan and visitor information, click here.
• Defending national champion Marian (Ind.) headlines the 2016 qualifiers. The Knights are looking 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 Knights, who are making the program’s sixth trip to the playoffs, have never lost in the first round (5-0) en route to a 14-3 all-time mark in the FCS.
• Marian enters the first round riding an NAIA-best 19-game winning streak dating back to last season. The Knights last loss came on Oct. 3, 2015 against Saint Francis (Ind.), 45-42.
• Eleven teams from the 2015 FCS are back in the field again this year – Baker (Kan.), Dickinson State (N.D.), Doane (Neb.), Grand View (Iowa), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Marian, Montana Tech, Morningside (Iowa), Reinhardt (Ga.), Saint Francis (Ind.) and Tabor (Kan.).
• Three newcomers are among the FCS qualifiers – Eastern Oregon, Robert Morris (Ill.) and Southeastern (Fla.). All three clubs will be on the road in the first round.
• Marian’s two national championships (2012 and 2015) are the most among the qualifiers. Grand View (Iowa) (2013) is the only other club in the field with a red banner.
• Five teams – Baker (1986), Missouri Valley (1974), Montana Tech (1996), Morningside (2012) and Saint Francis (2004, 2005, 2006) – among the qualifiers have appeared in the championship game, but failed to come away victorious.
• There are three unbeaten teams among the 16 – Marian (10-0), Baker (11-0) and Reinhardt (11-0). This is the most unblemished teams in the field since there were three unbeaten squads to open the 2012 FCS.
• Great Plains Athletic Conference champion Morningside is making its 13th-consecutive appearance in the FCS, which is the longest active streak in NAIA football. The Mustangs, who are 16-12 all-time at the event and 10-2 in the first round, have reached at least the quarterfinals in 10 of the last 12 seasons, including a national runner-up finish in 2012.
• Dickinson State owns the most playoff appearances among the qualifiers with 17. The Blue Hawks, who won their second-straight North Star Athletic Association crown this season, are 6-16 all-time in the FCS.
• Saint Francis (16), Baker (15), Missouri Valley (13) and Morningside (13) are the other programs with 10-or-more FCS appearances.
• Saint Francis boasts the most FCS wins among the qualifiers with 23. The Cougars are 13-2 all-time in the FCS First Round, including a 12-game winning streak in that round.
• The Frontier Conference, Great Plains Athletic Conference, Heart of America Athletic Conference South Division, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, Mid-South Conference West Division and the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League all are represented by two teams each.
• Two conferences – the Central States Football League and Mid-South Conference East Division – failed to have representation in the FCS field due to not having its conference champion ranked among the top 20 in the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – a requirement to qualify for postseason in NAIA football.
• Since the NAIA returned to one division in 1997, FCS First Round hosts own a 120-32 all-time record, including a perfect 8-0 record last season. Last year’s host sweep was the second-straight season – fourth during the timeframe – that home teams have gone unbeaten. The most successful season for the road teams came in 1998 and 2004 when the visitor posted a 4-4 mark.
|Baker (Kan.)||Heart of America Athletic Conference South Division Champion||11-0||15th||13-14|
|Dickinson State (N.D.)||North Star Athletic Association Champion||9-2||17th||6-16|
|Doane (Neb.)||At-Large No. 2||9-1||6th||3-5|
|Eastern Oregon||At-Large No. 4||8-2||1st||0-0|
|Grand View (Iowa)||Heart of America Athletic Conference North Division Champion||9-2||5th||6-3|
|Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||At-Large No. 3||10-1||3rd||1-2|
|Marian (Ind.)||Mid-States Football Association Mideast League Champion||10-0||6th||14-3|
|Missouri Valley||At-Large No. 5||9-2||13th||11-12|
|Montana Tech||Frontier Conference Champion||9-1||9th||4-8|
|Morningside (Iowa)||Great Plains Athletic Conference Champion||9-1||13th||16-12|
|Reinhardt (Ga.)||Mid-South Conference West Division Champion||11-0||2nd||0-1|
|Robert Morris (Ill.)||Mid-States Football Association Midwest League Champion||7-3||1st||0-0|
|Saint Francis (Ind.)||At-Large No. 1||9-1||16th||23-15|
|Southeastern (Fla.)||The Sun Conference Champion||6-2||1st||0-0|
|Sterling (Kan.)||At-Large No. 6||8-2||2nd||0-1|
|Tabor (Kan.)||Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Champion||8-2||6th||3-5|
2016 NAIA Football Championship Series - First Round Schedule
Saturday, Nov. 19 | Campus Sites
Game 1 – Robert Morris (Ill.) (7-3) at Marian (Ind.) (10-0), TBA
Game 2 – Sterling (Kan.) (8-2) at Baker (Kan.) (11-0), TBA
Game 3 – Southeastern (Fla.) (6-2) at Reinhardt (Ga.) (11-0), TBA
Game 4 – Missouri Valley (9-2) at Saint Francis (Ind.) (9-1), TBA
Game 5 – Tabor (Kan.) (8-2) at Morningside (Iowa) (9-1), TBA
Game 6 – Dickinson State (N.D.) (9-2) at Montana Tech (9-1), TBA
Game 7 – Eastern Oregon (8-2) at Doane (Neb.) (9-1), TBA
Game 8 – Grand View (Iowa) (9-2) at Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (10-1), TBA
For more information on the NAIA Football Championship Series and the national championship, click here.