Game week is underway at Iowa State where Paul Rhoads will open his third season as head coach on Saturday night when the Cyclones host Northern Iowa. “Nobody has to tell our football team the challenge that they will be faced with this Saturday night,” Rhoads says, “U.N.I. is a football team and a program that certainly understands how to win.”

He says the Panthers have been picked to win their league, are ranked highly and probably have better team speed than his team. Rhoads says the Panthers have track speed and will give the Cyclones trouble.

Rhoads says the Cyclones are ready for a game as they’re tired of practicing and are ready to be completely committed to game preparation.

This game will match Iowa State out of the Football Bowl Subdivision against a U.N.I. team that competes in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Rhoads says none of that matters when the game begins as he says after the first contact, you are going to get a 60 minute physical battle and you worry about doing your job and winning the game.

The game will mark the debut of new Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz. Rhoads believes the junior college transfer is up to the challenge. Rhoads says there is an unknown as the level of play increases for Jantz, but he says he has shown he has the personality to handle it.

Rhoads expects to see a much different Tirrell Rennie at quarterback for U.N.I. A year ago, Rennie threw two interceptions and was sacked three times in a 27-0 Cyclone victory, but Rhoads says you could seem him develop as the season went on.

Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott says the week before the season opener always seems long. Knott says you think about the game all offseason and right up to the start of the game and everyone is excited to get to play again.

Knott says the Cyclones know they have a tough challenge in front of them, and says the Panthers might as well be a Big 12 team.