With a solid history of matching up well against FBS opponents, the U.N.I. football team will not be intimidated when they walk into Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, according to their head coach.
The Panthers played Wisconsin to within a touchdown in their season opener, and nearly won the last time they face Iowa at Kinnick. Panther coach Mark Farley says his players won’t be wowed by playing in Iowa City this time.
“They’ve already been in an environment like that, looked across the field into a Big Ten team,”Farley says. “At the same time you can add the fact that it’s the University of Iowa. It’s still the number one team in this state as far as football and athletics is concerned, it’s our pro team. To our kids it’s still the University of Iowa, so I’m sure they’re excited and getting ready to go.”
Iowa blocked two last-second U.N.I. field goals to preserve a 17-16 win when the teams met in 2009. Farley says that with the exception of a handful of players that also played in that game, the previous result against Iowa won’t have any bearing on Saturday’s game.
He says it’s an exciting opportunity and that’s were they draw their motivation, as he says last time was last time and this game is a “whole different story.”
U.N.I.’s roster is dotted with players who likely grew up dreaming of playing for Iowa, but didn’t get the chance. Farley says Saturday’s game will give them a chance to prove themselves.
“Ever since you are third, fourth ,fifth grade, your parents, your town, everybody is looking at the Hawkeyes, so you kind of grow up that way. And then when you get that opportunity, they can only take so many of the in-state kids to go play there,” according to Farley. “When you don’t get to go there it’s probably more that you’re disappointed that you weren’t one of the few that got to go there. At the same time when they come here, they develop because they’ve got that attitude that maybe they were overlooked in that first go-round and maybe they can make amends the second go-round.”
Farley says he is encouraged by the number of other FCS teams that have picked up wins over FBS teams in the season’s first two weeks. “Illinois State beat Eastern Michigan, Youngstown has already clobbered Pittsburgh and North Dakota State beat Colorado State, so we have three teams in this league already that have won division one football teams,”Farley says. “So you look at that alone, my concern is our division and the people that we’re competitive with. I’m concerned about that more so than anything else when i read the paper. I’m excited to go play Iowa, but I know come next Monday, the task ahead is very daunting after that.”
U.N.I. and Iowa will kick it off at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ ,Cedar Falls