3rd: Missouri Valley Football Conference
111th: Division I
2017 In A Sentence: UNI made the FCS playoffs for the third time in four years last year but after an opening round win over Monmouth, it fell in the second round to MVFC mate South Dakota State and finished with a 8-5 overall record.
Biggest Shoes to Fill: WR Daurice Fountain was a three-year starter for UNI and logged a career 150 receptions for 2,077 yards with 23 touchdowns. He was a fifth round NFL Draft selection for the Indianapolis Colts this past spring.
Key Players: After throwing for 2,704 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2017, QB Eli Dunne returns as the Panthers’ unquestioned starter with expectations higher than they’ve ever been. The now-senior has just a 10-7 overall record as the Panther starter but with eight other starters back on offense, the expectations are sky high for the UNI offense this year.
Fearless Prediction: Historically, UNI has been a start slow, finish strong type of team and last year was no different in starting 2-3 before winning six of eight to end the season. With trips to the always tough Montana and FBS Iowa as its first two contests, it will be tough to not start slow again. But the Panthers do get NDSU and SDSU–two of last year’s FCS playoff semifinalists at home, that will be a help. But all signs point to a 8-3 or 7-4 type record for the Panthers as it is very tough to go unscathed in MVFC play.