Panthers geared up for match up versus Hawks - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Panthers geared up for match up versus Hawks

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- Another season, and another huge season opener.  The big topic for the Panthers on Tuesday dealt with the opening day match-up with the Hawkeyes just 3 and a half weeks away.

Senior defensive lineman James Ruffin believes practicing against his own teammates will help get ready for September 5th.  "Chad Rhinehart and Austin Howard, they can play on Iowa's football team.  Going against those guys I have all the confidence in the world to be successful at Kinnick Stadium."

However it's been more than 100 years since a Panther team beat the Hawkeyes, and Coach Mark Farley says that's the next piece of the puzzle. "Iowa's just one of those things that we haven't overcome yet.  That's one of those barriers that we haven't overcome as is the National Championship game."

The Panthers are no stranger to playing FBS opponents last season they trailed by just 10 in the 4th quarter at 16th ranked BYU, before falling by 24.  In 2007, UNI knocked off Iowa State in Ames, and Coach Farley says those experiences go a long way in getting his team prepared for Missouri Valley play.

" It just puts you ahead by, like, 3 games of where you're at and what you still need to get done, so it helps you at the end of the season for going through whatever happens.  So, BYU helped us and I think even the previous year, that's the year we beat Iowa State, and again that game helped us as the season unfolded."

But the focus is still game one, and with new faces starting in several spots on both sides of the ball-- every practice is huge according to senior linebacker Josh Mahoney.  "Camp will be critical for us in terms of meshing the defense into a single unit, but I think we have the personnel there to make that happen."

Online reporter Mark Woodley

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