Game #1: Sat. Sept. 1, 2012 2:30 p.m. (Central)
Madison, Wis. (Camp Randall)
Television: Big Ten Network
Radio: Panther Sports Network
The University of Northern Iowa Panthers will open their 2012 season against Big Ten foe Wisconsin. Wisconsin begins their season ranked No.12 in the USA Today Poll and No. 12 in the AP Poll. UNI will enter the FCS season ranked No. 9 in the Sports Network Preseason Poll. This is the 114th season of football for the UNI Panthers.
The season opener for both the Panthers and the Badgers will mark the first time in both programs' history that the teams have met. The Panthers are used to playing Big Ten opponents due to their rivalry with in-state competitor Iowa.
Head coach Mark Farley is entering his 12th season with a mark of 99-40. He has guided the Panthers to a record of 60-20 for an impressive .750 winning percentage in MVFC play. He has led the team to seven conference championships, seven playoff appearances, 10 top-25 final rankings, three national semifinal appearances and one national title game appearance. Bret Bielema is heading into his seventh year at the helm for the Badgers. He has led Wisconsin to 60 wins, six bowl appearances, five times ranked in the final AP Top 25, two Big Ten titles and two trips to the Rose Bowl.
The Panthers currently have an all-time record of 620-383-47.
- The Panthers have been present in 16 playoffs, seven semifinals and one championship game.
- UNI has been ranked in the Top 25 in 94 consecutive polls, dating back to Nov. 15, 2004. The Panthers are five weeks shy of setting an all-time Missouri Valley Football Conference record for consecutive weeks in the polls.
- UNI had seven players participating in NFL camps during the 2012 preseason including, Brandon Keith, Ryan Mahaffey, Chad Rinehart, Austin Howard, L.J. Fort, Austin Wells and Brad Meester.
UNI against the FBS
UNI has an all-time record of 20-64-5 vs. FBS opponents. Most of the success has come in the last 26 years, with a 9-21 mark against FBS teams since 1985.
Farley Years against the FBS
Farley is 2-10 against FBS opponents with wins over Ball State (42-39, Sept. 22, 2001) and Iowa State (24-13, Sept. 8, 2007).
Panthers vs. Badgers
Wisconsin outscored their opponents during the 2011 season 618-266, averaging 44.1 points per game. They captured their 13th Big Ten title, finishing with a 10-3 overall record and 6-2 record in the Big Ten. Wisconsin also made their eighth appearance in the Rose Bowl and finished the season ranked 10th in the AP Poll.
Even though Cedar Falls is only a few hours away from the state of Wisconsin, the Panthers only have two players on their current roster who are from the Badger State. Standout offensive lineman Misha Danilov is from Middleton, Wis., which is only 17 minutes away from Madison. Tight end Sam Rohr hails from Brookfield, Wis. which is only a little over an hour away from Madison.
UNI is 57-49-7 all-time in season openers and 14-8 in the last 21 years. UNI is 6-5 in season openers under head coach Mark Farley. The last time UNI opened the season with a road win came in 2006, when the Panthers defeated Drake. The last time UNI opened the season with a road win over an FBS opponent came in 1998, when the Panthers tallied a 13-10 win at Eastern Michigan.
Starting The Season
Jenks, Okla. native and redshirt freshman quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen has been named the starter for the Panthers. Kollmorgen will become the fifth freshman to start at quarterback in UNI history. The last time a UNI freshman quarterback started against an FBS opponent, the Panthers defeated Ball State, 42-39. Tom Petrie started against Ball State on Sept. 22, 2001, and guided the Panthers to a victory in that game. The last time a UNI freshman quarterback started a season opener came when Tom Petrie opened up the 2001 season with a 34-14 victory over Wayne State (Mich.) on Aug. 30, 2001.
UNI is 70-5 in the Mark Farley era (2001-present) when holding the opposition to 20 points or less.
The 2012 Panther Defense - Returning Starters
Chris Jepsen recorded 27 total tackles including nine solo tackles and 18 assisted tackles during 2011. Garrett Scott finished the 2011 season with 105 total tackles including 55 solo tackles, 50 assisted tackles, four interceptions and nine pass breakups. Wilmot Wellington finished his 2011 campaign with 59 total tackles, three pass breakups and one fumble recovery. Varmah Sonie finished the 2011 season with 17 punt returns for 147 yards and a total of 177 all-purpose yards. He completed the season with 70 total tackles including 37 solo tackles and 33 assisted tackles. He had three interceptions and seven pass breakups. J.J. Swain recorded 69 total tackles including 45 solo tackles and 24 assisted tackles, three tackles for loss of yards, three interceptions and three pass breakups.
UNI is 65-3 in the Mark Farley years when scoring 30 or more points in a game.
The 2012 Panther Offense - Returning Starters
Terrell Sinkfield recorded 28 receptions for 464 yards and six touchdowns during 2011. His longest reception was for 40 yards against MSU and SSU. Carlos Anderson accumulated 77 carries for 410 yards and four receptions for 33 yards during his 2011 campaign. His longest rush was for 57 yards against South Dakota State. He returned 24 kicks for 555 yards and recorded 1,003 all-purpose yards. David Johnson finished the 2011 season with 179 carries for 822 yards and nine touchdowns and 33 receptions for 422 yards and three touchdowns. His longest rush was a 63 yard gain against Montana and he also garnered an 80 yard touchdown pass against Iowa State.
Searching for 100
Head coach Mark Farley is currently 99-40 all-time during his coaching career at UNI. Stan Sheriff holds the UNI record with 129 wins when he was at the helm from 1960-82.
Out of the 95 players on the 2012 UNI football roster, 54 athletes are from the state of Iowa. Of the 54 Iowans on the roster, seven student-athletes are from the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area originally.
Home Sweet Dome
UNI is 183-45-1 in the UNI-Dome. The Panthers have gone undefeated at home in a season eight times since 1990. Prior to 1998, the Panthers had two consecutive seasons in the Dome. The Panthers have posted four perfect seasons at home under head coach Mark Farley. The Panthers are 73-13 in home Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
Climbing to the Top
UNI has finished the year in the top-25 in 10 of the last 11 seasons and the Panthers have taken home a top-five ranking in six of the last 11 seasons.
UNI, Appalachian State and Montana are the only Division I FCS schools in the nation that have finished the season ranked in the top-five since 2001. Only five Division I football programs in the nation (FBS and FCS combined) have been ranked in the top-five of the final polls at least six times since 2001 (USC, Ohio State, Appalachian State, Montana and UNI).
All-Conference All the Time
UNI has had 30 first-team All-MVFC selections since 2007, the most in the league. Only one other school has had more than 20 in that time frame.
New Season, New Additions
The Panthers have added four new additions to the coaching staff. Daniel Bullocks will begin his collegiate coaching career as a defensive assistant after playing safety for the Detroit Lions prior to coming to UNI. Todd Blythe will serve as a new offensive assistant after playing two seasons with the Iowa Barnstormers and at Iowa State collegiately, becoming one of the most prolific receivers in Iowa State history. D.J. Hord will make his return to UNI as a graduate assistant on the offensive side of the ball after playing collegiate football for UNI and Notre Dame. Travis Williams will serve as the linebackers coach after his years as a player and graduate assistant at Auburn.
Before the 2012 season even started, the Panthers were already bringing in awards left and right.
- BSN Preseason All-American: Tyler Sievertsen and Varmah Sonie
- Sports Network Preseason All-American: Tyler Sievertsen
- Madness FCS Preseason All-American: Tyler Sievertsen and Varmah Sonie
- CSN Preseason All-American: Tyler Sievertsen, Varmah Sonie and John Hubbard
- Fred Mitchell Award Watch List: Tyler Sievertsen
- MVFC Preseason Team: Tyler Sievertsen, Varmah Sonie, Misha Danilov and Garrett Scott
- Phil Steele Preseason All-American: Tyler Sievertsen Phil Steele All-MVFC Preseason Team: Tyler Sievertsen, Varmah Sonie, Misha Danilov, Garrett Scott, Brian Palangi
- College Sports Journal Preseason All-American: Tyler Sievertsen and John Hubbard
2012 Season Outlook
The Panthers will have a tough schedule during the 2012 season when they face the 2012 FCS Champions North Dakota State and two FBS football squads in Wisconsin and Iowa. At least five different schools in the MVFC have showed up in the various top-25 polls that have been announced throughout the country.