At 6-1 and ninth ranked nationally the Northern Iowa Panthers have put themselves in the hunt for the Gateway Conference championship. The stretch run has a number of hurdles though, beginning with Saturday’s trip to seventh-rated Western Illinois.U-N-I coach Mark Farley who says the concern this week is the Western Illinois offense led by quarterback Russ Michna. He says he’s probably the best quarterback in one-double-A football Farley expects the Leathernecks to be ready to play after losing to Southern Illinois a week ago. He says they’ll be focused after being upset and will come back hard this week.Former Iowa assistant Don Patterson has led Western Illinois to a 5-2 record and says after last week’s loss there may be no margin of error for their playoff hopes. Patterson says the Panthers 6-1 record is more impressive considering the large amount of injuries. He says anytime you have good character the guys who’re second are ready to go. He says U-N-I is fundamentally sound and that is why they have been successful.
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