No Rima Reason – Ranking the Appeal of UNI Football Games

UNIFB Garage Exit

For the second year in a row UNI football will play a 12 game regular season schedule. What are the most appealing games of the year this season to you?

Here’s mine, with number 1 being the most appealing, to number 12 the least. Keep in mind, I get excited for each and every game! And every opponent but someone has to be first, and some have to be last in the “appealing” department!

12) Tennessee Tech

I put them here only because someone has to be number 12. I was really excited and pleased when UNI announced this was their 12th game, an FCS opponent, a team out of the Ohio Valley Conference, a conference of schools that history will tell you don’t seem to want to schedule UNI let alone come to the UNI Dome and play the Panthers.

11) Northern Colorado

This game would have been number 12 on my list except it is homecoming, it is the first home game of the year, this game will be the unveiling of the brand new huge video scoreboard and after opening the year at Iowa and at Hawaii it is very appealing to get a chance to finally play at home and also face an FCS opponent!

10) Indiana State

A couple of years ago when Indiana State had a runningback by the name of Shakir Bell this would have been a much more interesting, appealing match up.

courtesy http://boxscorenews.com/university-northern-iowa-football-wins-on-the-road-defeats-northern-color-p63224-68.htm

courtesy http://boxscorenews.com/university-northern-iowa-football-wins-on-the-road-defeats-northern-color-p63224-68.htm

Don’t get me wrong, this Indiana State football program is much improved from that stretch over three seasons where they lost 33 games in row finally winning on Oct. 27, 2009. The reason I put them 10th is it is a tough place to play, they don’t draw huge crowds, they do not have one of the better college football atmospheres in the MVFC and because of the distance, outside of a lot of the players parents, not many fans from UNI make the trip.

9) Western Illinois

I may have them a little high in this poll as far as “appeal” goes but it is a game that UNI fans can get to live and in person, there are some former UNI coaches on the Leathernecks staff, and these two teams have had some interesting games in Macomb.

8) South Dakota

UNI has to feel like it its time to get revenge, a little payback, from what happened last year in the UNI Dome. It appeared UNI was going to get their first MVFC win of the year as they built a 28-7 lead with just over 3 minutes left in the 3rd but South Dakota scored 21 unanswered points and sent the game to overtime. The Coyotes would complete the improbable comeback winning in double overtime over the then 11th ranked Panthers.

If UNI really did come up 1 win short of making the FCS playoffs last year this is a game that you can point to.

UNI rarely, if ever, lose a lead like that late in a game in the dome. With nearly 20 seniors back on this years Panther squad they should enter the Coyotes dome with revenge on their mind! That’s appealing!

7) Illinois State

Coach Farley talks a lot about the quality and talent that Illinois State has on their roster year in and year out. This year they have added Indiana and Big 10 transfer Tre Roberson, a guy that was expected be the Hoosiers starting QB but he left the program and will play at Illinois State.

UNI QB Sawyer Kollmorgen suffered a concussion in a 13-3 loss at Illinois State last year. This UNI home game is the week before UNI’s home game with North Dakota State. This will be a very good game…..very!!

6) Missouri State

This game hasn’t been the rivalry it was back in the 90’s. And I am not sure how great the rivalry really was then? UNI rarely lost to MSU but it was always “Bear Week” leading up to the game every year and that carried some appeal.

courtesy search.espn.go.com

courtesy search.espn.go.com

Since Mark Farley took over the reins of UNI football in 2001 the UNI domination of Da Bears has continued. Enter Terry Allen, the former and very successful UNI coach, who became the Bears head coach in 2006 and that re sparked the interest and appeal to this game annually, but TA has never beaten his alma mater and former assistant coach.

Coach Allen is in the final year of his coaching contract at MSU. And unless it gets extended during the year or at the end of the season he will coach his final game in the UNI Dome in week 12 of the regular season. Right where he got his head coaching start. That all makes for an interesting match up and hopefully UNI is playing to lock up or secure the MVFC title!

5) Southern Illinois

Years ago this game would be at or near the top of this list. I put it 5th so it is in the top half of “appeal” and is always or least always seems to be a hard fought close game that isn’t decided until the final minutes. In this series historically the home team wins but last year SIU won in overtime in the UNI Dome.

I can’t remember the last time UNI won at SIU.

The Salukis think they are ready to challenge for the league title again – or at least a playoff berth out of the tough 10 team MVFC. IF UNI is going to win the league title this year, and/or get back to the playoffs, this is a road game they need to win in Carbondale. Something they haven’t done since…..I can’t remember! Always an appealing match up!

4) South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits are picked ahead of UNI in the preseason MVFC poll. SDSU made the playoffs last year. UNI did not.One reason SDSU made it and UNI didn’t is because the Jacks won a double overtime thriller in Brookings last year over the purple and gold.

The game this year is in the UNI Dome and it will carry playoff implications. This will be a game that will feature the top two running backs not only in the MVFC but in all of FCS football; David Johnson for UNI and Zach Zenner for SDSU. This will be a hard hitting, not for the weak of heart, type game…that is appealing! It is also family weekend and the first MVFC home game of the year….that is appealing!

3) Hawaii

I might have them a little high, and don’t tell Coach Farley I have 2 non conference games in the top 3 of “appeal!” Because he would remind us all that it is all about the conference.

But this game is very appealing! At least to me – and this is MY list!

A first time ever meeting. A trip to Hawaii. A chance to beat a FBS program, and did I mention this game is in Hawaii? Beaches, the ocean, warm weather, football, more beaches, sand, sun and the surf…..Enough said!

2) Iowa

I think a big part of Panthernation feels that this years addition of UNI football can not only go into Kinnick Stadium and give the Hawkeyes a great game, but can get out of there with a win!

courtesy qctimes.com

courtesy qctimes.com

UNI has never beaten a Big 10 team. The Panthers came very very close in 2009  when Iowa blocked back to back field goals in the final 7 seconds to preserve a 17-16 win. In 2012 UNI was within a touchdown of Wisconsin in the fourth quarter and driving for a go ahead touchdown only lose a tough one 26-21.

The Panthers have wins over Big 12 teams, including last years season opening win over Iowa State. But they have never cleared that elusive hurdle of beating a Big 10 team.

IF UNI were able to go into Kinnick and get out of there with a win, by 1, by 3, or by 10, many Panther fans might consider it the biggest football win in school history. For that reason alone this is a hugely appealing game to Panthernation! This might also be the last time these two football programs ever meet on the field.

1) North Dakota State

Is there any doubt Panthernation that this is the most appealing and anticipated game of year?

The 3 time FCS National Champions come to the UNI Dome having won the MVFC title the last couple of years. They have beaten UNI the last couple of years. Including a heartbreaking Panther loss last year in Fargo where the Panthers not only lost a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter, they lost some key players to either season ending injuries or injuries that lingered over the rest of the season. Most notably including defensive leader Jake Farley.

And if that isn’t enough, former UNI player and assistant coach Chris Klieman is the now the Bison head coach!

The joint will be jumping and should be sold out to the rafters for the first time in a number of years! This game has all kinds of appeal!!!

  • Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments below!