The University of Northern Iowa football team will open the 2012 season with a visit to Wisconsin. The Panthers will take on the Badgers on September first of next year and two weeks later will play the Iowa Hawkeyes.

It will mark the first time since 2001 that U.N.I. will play two Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the same season and it’s part of a plan to eliminate some of the state funding for the athletic department.

Athletic director Troy Dannen says one of the ways they proposed eliminating some of the state funding for athletics was to add such a game, and the Wisconsin game fills that role. Dannen says two games against FBS foes may become a regular occurrence.

He says they are trying to find teams where they can bus to the locations, as it costs $100,000 to fly to the games. Dannen says such games are not available every year, but when they are, they will play two games.

Dannen believes a second FBS foe won’t hurt UNI’s chances of making the FCS national playoffs. He says they key number for getting a playoff bid is seven wins. The playoffs expanded from 16 to 20 teams and there is talk of expanding it again, so he says losing one of the early games will not be as big a problem if they win the games they have to win.

Dannen says they will be able to maintain five-game home schedules even when they play two FBS foes. The have three non-conference games and one will always be Iowa State or Iowa and so to have six the others would have to be home games and he says that is rare.

U.N.I. will open this season with a September third trip to Iowa State.