The University of Northern Iowa football team picked up a decisive Saturday (Dec. 5) to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2015 Football Championship Series Playoffs.

The Northern Iowa Panthers jumped out early on sixth seeded Portland State (9-3) and led 16-3 at halftime. The Vikings never got their offense moving and the Panthers would go on to win 29-17 in the second round match-up, which was played in the rain.

UNI improved to 9-4 this season and 5-2 against ranked opponents.

UNI finished the game with two rushers with over 200 yards on the ground, totaling 401 as a team. Tyvis Smith rushed for a career-high 207 yards, adding two touchdown while Aaron Bailey threw in 200 yards on the ground and two more rushing scores.

On defense, Jared Farley notched a game-high 12 tackles, also grabbing a key interception. Brett McMakin had UNI’s second interception of the game, also racking up 10 tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. Isaac Ales also turned in a strong performance after moving to defensive tackle, recording eight tackles, one sack and two tackles for a loss of nine yards.

The road to the 2015 FCS Championship continues to get harder. The Panthers now face the four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State Bison, who defeated Montana 37-6 to advance to the quarterfinal game against UNI. NDSU scored on two interception returns and a 100-yard kickoff return.

UNI will seeking to avenge a wild 35-31 loss to North Dakota State on Oct. 10, when they met to begin Missouri Valley Football Conference play. The game against the Bison will take place in the FargoDome on Saturday (Dec. 12). The game will air live on ESPN at 11:00 AM-CT.