UNI Panthers

UNI at Weber State preview: Time, TV, live stream, line, prediction

Panthers meet Wildcats in FCS Top-10 matchup

Northern Iowa Panthers quarterback Will McElvain (13) looks to pass during the second quarter of their game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Northern Iowa Panthers quarterback Will McElvain (13) looks to pass during the second quarter of their game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — Saturday’s matchup at Stewart Field between No. 9-ranked Northern Iowa (2-1) and No. 5 Weber State (1-2) is the Panthers’ final nonconference game of the season.

The Panthers and Wildcats have played three previous times, most recently in the first round of the 1991 FCS playoffs, a 38-21 UNI win.

Weber State finished its 2018 season 10-3 and was the Big Sky Conference champion with a 7-1 record. The Wildcats’ losses have both come to FBS teams — San Diego State, 6-0 and Nevada, 19-13 — while their win came two weeks ago at home, 41-24, over Cal Poly.

The Wildcats are led by their defense (16.3 points per game allowed) and senior defensive lineman Jonah Williams, who leads the team with three sacks.

Here are three things to watch for in Saturday’s game:

1. Will sophomore running back Tyler Hoosman bring back 2/3 of UNI’s offense?

After last Saturday’s 13-6 win over Idaho State, UNI Coach Farley mentioned that the offense’s struggle was the lack of a run game that consequently took away the play-action pass. Hoosman, who had 11 carries for 55 yards and a 29-yard reception, breathed new life into the running game in the second half. He, in combination with Trevor Allen, could be just what UNI’s offense needs to get back on track toward its potential.

“There’s no question that what (Hoosman) did and how he produced with his opportunity earned him the right for more,” Farley said.

2. Elevation and the forecast.

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Stewart Field sits 4,760 feet above sea level, lightly lower than Southern Utah’s Eccles Coliseum (5,800 feet) where UNI played two years ago and felt the effects of altitude.

It will be interesting to see if UNI pulls some of its regulars that play on special teams units for extra rest and if it taps into its depth more than it has to this point of the season.

“(Elevation) does factor into the game. I’ve always said it doesn’t just because of mindset, but it does,” Farley said. “Depends how much you’re on the field and how fast you run. It’s part of (Weber State’s) home field advantage.”

Saturday night’s forecast calls for a 100-percent chance of rain and temperatures in the 50s. Combine the forecast and elevation and you have the most adverse conditions UNI has played in this season.

3. The gameplan for Josh Davis.

Weber State running back Josh Davis was the 2018 Jerry Rice Award winner (national freshman of the year) after racking up 1,362 rushing yards. He’s off to a slow start this season — 244 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns through three games — but with starting quarterback Jake Constantine (knee) questionable for Saturday’s game a heavy dose of Davis seems inevitable.

UNI’s run defense has allowed only 118.3 yards per game, but struggled in week 1 against Iowa State, when it allowed 185. Idaho State ran more than UNI anticipated and the Panthers were able to find success when it switched from its 3-3-5 defense to its 4-2-5.

UNI at Weber State

Time: 7 p.m. CT

TV: none

Watch online: PLUTO TV

Radio: KGYM-AM 1600

Listen online: TuneIn

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Line: Weber State -2.5

Prediction: UNI 27 Weber State 17

Hoosman and Allen produce the Panthers’ best running game of the season and quarterback Will McElvain makes a couple dynamic plays. The defense limits Davis and makes life tough on whichever QB the Wildcats start.

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