The Iowa State football team renews their rivalry against the in-state FCS school, Northern Iowa Panthers. As usual, the team should provide a strong test that many other FCS teams cannot. Last season resulted in a disappointing 5-6 finish for the Panthers, but they showed improvement at the end of the year and their young talent will only be that much better this year.
2012 UNI Quick Recap
As usual, they gave another big test to FBS opponents, only losing by five at Wisconsin and 11 at Iowa. Unfortunately, that momentum didn’t go into their conference season falling to 2-6 before winning the last three games of the season.
The offense was generally balanced with the passing game being a little more successful under their freshman quarterback, Sawyer Kollmorgen. They ranked 36th in passing with 234.9 yards per game. Running back David Johnson ranked 35th nationally in the FCS with 92.8 yards per game and ran for over 100 yards in the Panthers’ last six games.
September 3rd, 2011 – Iowa State defeated UNI 20-19
Back when he was an unknown, Steele Jantz saved Iowa State’s football season by leading the team to two touchdowns in the final 5:37 of the game against the Panthers. The Cyclones overcame four turnovers compared to UNI’s one and before the rally, ISU registered just one first down in the second half.
Projecting UNI’s Team
One of the problems from last year was simply having young skill players. Kollmorgen completed 59 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He’s a pocket passer who could easily pick apart the ISU secondary if they aren’t prepared.
They’ll miss senior wide receiver Terrell Sinkfield who led the team with over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, but the next best receivers were both sophomores. Brett LeMaster had five catches for 99 yards in the games against the Badgers and Hawkeyes while Chad Owens scored a touchdown against the Badgers and have five catches for 51 yards against the Hawks.
The running attack should only get better as Johnson moves into his junior season.
This is going to be another tough game opening game for the Cyclones. UNI improved dramatically over the course of last season with its main weakness being pass defense (77th in pass efficiency) and getting pressure on the quarterback (112th in sacks and 87th in tackles for loss).
If Iowa State’s running game opens up the passing game for Sam Richardson, then it could be a long day for the Panthers.
The Cyclones will host UNI on Saturday, August 31st, with a kickoff set for 7:00 PM CDT at Jack Trice Stadium. It will be televised on Mediacom and Cyclones.tv.