August 21, 2014

UNI faces two-time defending national champ

The UNI football team will find itself in the middle of a Top Ten matchup for the second Saturday in a row as the Panthers visit North Dakota State this weekend.  The Bison are the top-ranked team in FCS and have won the last two national titles in that division.  UNI coach Mark Farley says the two teams have had a lot of history over the past few seasons.

“This is just such a great game because of the competitive nature of the two schools, the two states, whatever it is for whatever reason this is a great matchup,” Farley says. “And it’s been a game that’s really been a physical football game over all the years. It’s just a fun instance where you can kind of lock up and kind up put it on the football field and let’s just see what happens.”

Farley says big games like this Saturday’s can create a lot of stress, but also a great deal of excitement. He says the stress and excitement comes from the possibilities of the game. Both UNI and NDSU play in domed stadiums. Farley says the unique thing about the FargoDome is how close the fans are to the action. “They’re so loud that they factor into the football game, as does our fans,” he explains.

 According to Farley, a very strong senior class has spurred NDSU to their two national championships and a #1 ranking this season. He says they probably have three NFL draft picks in their senior class who grew up together, and that has helped them make a run.

North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl says a game like this will come down to mistakes as turnovers are factor in the big games. The Bison have shut out their last two opponents but Bohl says UNI running back David Johnson is a difficult matchup. “You’re looking at a back who can fake you out or run you over,” Bohl says. He says Johnson can also catch the ball and run for a touchdown.

Saturday’s game between the Panthers and the Bison is scheduled for a 2:30 kickoff in Fargo.

(Reporting by Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls)