Top-ranked UNI will attempt to close out the first perfect regular season in Gateway Conference history Saturday when the Panthers host Southern Utah in the UNI-Dome. Coach Mark Farley says his teams has been focused on accomplishing that goal since the start of the season.
Farley says since August 1st they have tried to project the possibility of perfection and what it takes. He says they all understand what it takes, but says it is very hard to do. Farley says they have to remind the players of how hard they have to work to achieve the goal, and how small the window of opportunity is. "We can reach the pinnacle of UNI football if we can get this last football game," Farley says.
A solid defense is one reason for UNI’s success. The Panthers have allowed just 40 second-half points all season and have given up an average of less than 14 points per game. Farley says depth has been the key to UNI’s strong defensive effort. He says when you’re moving seven or eight guys in and out, you get better penetration later in the game. Farley says that rotation is helping them play better defense in the second half of games.
Farley says a victory over the winless Thunderbirds should put UNI in a good position to be the number one seed in the FCS playoffs. He says if they’re fortunate enough to win, they have been able to go on the road and beat some good football teams, including Iowa State, which Farley says has beaten some other Big 12 teams. He says looking at that record and comparing it to other teams, it would be logistically hard to place other teams above them. The playoff pairings will be announced at 2:30 Sunday afternoon on ESPN-U.