AMES — Historically, Iowa State has dominated the series against Northern Iowa.
The Cyclones lead the series, 22-6-3.
But two of those losses to the Panthers have come within the last four meetings.
Here are 5 Things about UNI:
1. The series
UNI is 2-2 against Iowa State since 2013.
Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell’s first game as the Cyclones’ coach in 2016 was a 25-20 loss to the Panthers.
UNI also won in 2013, 28-20.
The series between the in-state schools can be dated back to 1899. The Cyclones and Panthers tied the inaugural game in Cedar Falls with a final score of 0-0 — a real barn burner.
2. Former Iowa State commit
UNI Coach Mark Farley announced last week redshirt freshman Will McElvain will start for the Panthers.
McElvain committed to Iowa State as a preferred walk-on in December of 2017 before he flipped to UNI.
“Well, I think it was (Will’s) body of work — it was what he did in the spring, even what he did even last fall as a pure walk-on,” Farley said. “ ... (his) body of work that made the difference.”
That familiarity is why Campbell knows the redshirt freshman is dangerous.
“I think the world of their starting quarterback,” Campbell said Monday. “He’s a young man that at one time was thinking about coming to Iowa State, but obviously made a great decision for himself and has really done a phenomenal job there. The familiarity we know about him is just his true ability and his ability to improvise and make plays.
He’s a real talent. It’s going to be a great challenge right out of the gate preparing and getting ready to play against a veteran offense in a lot of ways and then a dynamic quarterback.”
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One thing that should help McElvain navigate through his first college football game is the fact UNI returns a host of talent at the skill positions.
Tight end Briley Moore, who led the Panthers in receiving with 39 catches for 536 yards and four touchdowns last season, is back after an all-Missouri Valley Football Conference season.
In fact, the Panthers return all six of their leading receivers from last season. Jaylin James had 38 receptions for 400 yards and three touchdowns, Deion McShane had 36 catches for 482 yards and two touchdowns, Nick Fossey caught 29 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns, Trevor Allen had 25 receptions for 256 yards and Jalen Rima came up with 21 catches, 337 yards and three touchdowns.
The Panthers lost their leading rusher in Marcus Weymiller, but Allen rushed for 611 yards and five TDs last year and Tyler Hoosman added 205 yards on 44 carries.
“One of the things for them is they’ve got a lot of structure back around in their skill positions,” Campbell said. “I’ve been really impressed with their skill players on the outside. And at the running back spot, they rotated a lot of guys through there so they do have veteran guys coming back at the running back spot, guys that played really well at times for them a year ago, which I’m sure they’re excited about. And obviously they have an outstanding tight end.”
Farley is entering his 19th season as the Panthers head coach and he’s coming up on an impressive career milestone.
He’s one win away from his 150th as a head coach — all with UNI.
He is the winningest coach in UNI and Missouri Valley history and his next win will make him the 10th coach with 150 FCS victories.
5. Perennially in the playoffs
UNI has made itself into a mainstay in the FCS playoffs.
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In Farley’s 18 seasons, his UNI teams have made the playoffs 11 times, including last season.
The Panthers have made the quarterfinals six times, but have only advanced beyond the quarterfinals twice. Farley’s first team, in 2001, made the semifinals and his 2005 squad lost in the national championship game.