The Northern Iowa Panthers open defense of their Gateway Conference title this weekend by hosting Western Kentucky. U-N-I coach Mark Farley says this will be a difficult test to open the league race. He says they have to find a way to move the football against a tough defense. Farley says the Hilltoppers’ strength remains the ground game, and although they’ve changed their scheme, they still run the option and play smash mouth football.A year ago, U-N-I beat Western to claim the Gateway crown and Farley says the Hilltoppers want to return the favor. Farley says this is a game Kentucky marked on their calendar after last year’s loss.