Preview: Panthers @ No. 20 Salukis

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  • Matthew Cook (97) has a chance to become the UNI and MVFC all-time leader in career field goals made on Saturday. Cook has made 63, while the current record is 64.

  • Last season, the Salukis came into the UNI-Dome ranked third in the country, but it was UNI who came out on top, pulling the upset, 23-16.

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CADEN SHEA, Sports Editor

The Panthers are back on the road this weekend as they prepare to travel to Carbondale, Ill. to face the Southern Illinois Salukis in Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) action. The Salukis will enter this game as the No. 20 ranked team in the FCS. This will be a big challenge for the Panthers after they dominated Missouri State last weekend. The Salukis are currently 5-3 with a 4-1 record in the Missouri Valley Football Conference giving them the second best conference record. The Panthers enter this matchup with a record of 4-4 with a 3-2 MVFC record. 

UNI’s dominant win over Missouri State will give the Panthers a lot of confidence going into this crucial matchup. The two teams are very evenly matched in many statistical categories, which will make this a highly contested game between the two rivals. Records may be broken this weekend as UNI’s kicker, Matthew Cook, is one field goal away from tying the record of most field goals made in both UNI and conference history. The current record is 64 while Cook is sitting at a current total of 63.

The Panthers are coming off of an explosive two weeks of domination over opponents. Running back Dom Williams was awarded Co-MVFC Offensive Player of the Week after the win over Missouri State making him a looming threat to upcoming opponents. Williams leads the Panthers with a total of nine rushing touchdowns on the season. Williams also tied the UNI record of rushing touchdowns in a game against Missouri State with four trips over the goal line. Quarterback Theo Day has continued his great season by spreading the ball out to many different people with seven different receivers notching touchdowns off of his passes. Sergio Morancy has the most receiving touchdowns for the Panthers this season with four.

UNI has been on an unprecedented run over the last couple of games. The Panthers recorded 548 yards against Utah Tech and 522 yards against Missouri State. Before these two games, the Panthers had not recorded a single game of 500 or more yards of offense since the 2016 season. This continues UNI’s march towards the top of the MVFC.

Southern Illinois will walk into this game as the favorites despite UNI’s current run of wins. The Salukis have notched many monumental wins this season, including a huge win over a Power-5 conference team by defeating the Northwestern Wildcats of the Big 10 with a score of 31-24. SIU has defeated four opponents in the MVFC: North Dakota, Illinois State, Missouri State and Western Illinois. The Salukis play a very smashmouth style of football, leading the conference in time of possession. They are also a defensive powerhouse leading the conference in both tackles for loss and team sacks. 

This game will prove to be a great test of strength and will for the Panthers as they look to solidify themselves as real contenders in the conference. The game will kick off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, and will be available to watch on ESPN3.