For the first time since 1996 U.N.I. and Indiana State will square off as rated foes when the second ranked Panthers host the 17th rated Sycamores in their homecoming contest. In just two seasons, the Sycamores have gone from a one-win team to a contender for the Missouri Valley Football Conference title.
U.N.I. coach Mark Farley says that he’s been very impressed with how coach Trent Miles has turned the Sycamore program around. He says they have turned the program around step-by-step and he says it is a program building, not just a team. Farley says that Indiana State is a very veteran squad that isn’t afraid of going into a hostile environment like the one they’ll face at the Dome on Saturday.
Farley says they have gone to another level and are playing exceptionally well. He says the more he watches them the better they get.
Running back Shakir Bell leads the Sycamore offense. The sophomore is second in FCS in rushing with more than 150 yards per game. Farley says that an improved offensive line has helped spring Bell for many of those yards, and he says Bell has great, balance, vision and speed.
Indiana State is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference race. They will be out to snap an eight game losing streak in the series. Miles says they will have their hands full as they expect a loud, sold out building as they try to do something they haven’t done in a long time.
Miles says beating U.N.I. would be a huge step for the program, as he says they are the class of the conference and have been the best year in and and year out.
The Sycamores gave the Panthers a battle in Terre Haute a year ago before falling 30-20. Miles says doing that and competing gave them confidence and showed them they can do this.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls