Preview: No. 1 Jackrabbits @ Panthers

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  • Last season, UNI went into Brookings to face South Dakota State, who was ranked sixth in the nation at the time. However, it was UNI that came out on top, 26-17.

  • Desmond Hutson (81) was named the MVFC Newcomer of the Week after catching two touchdown passes in UNI’s 37-36 win over Southern Illinois.

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BEN LAHART, Sports Writer

UNI will play their final home game of the season this Saturday. They are looking to secure their fourth straight win, but that won’t be an easy task to complete. The top ranked team in FCS, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, are coming to town. This matchup features two of the conference’s top three scoring offenses and two of the top four scoring defenses.

UNI came out victorious in this matchup last year winning 26-17. Theo Day threw for 232 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The one touchdown pass was caught by former wide receiver Isaiah Weston to add on to his team high 125 receiving yards. Another touchdown came on the ground from Dom Williams. Matthew Cook made all four of his field goal attempts and both PATs. SDSU passed for 300 yards and ran for 60 more with a touchdown coming through the air and on the ground. A 34-yard field goal accounted for the rest of the Jackrabbits’ 17 points.

The Panthers are coming off an impressive win over previously ranked Southern Illinois where they won 37-36. Day was the runner-up for MVFC Offensive Player of the Week with his career best five touchdown passes on 84% completion. He has continued his excellent season as he now has 2,471 passing yards which ranks him fourth among FCS quarterbacks and first in the MVFC. His 19 passing touchdowns ranks him 10th in the FCS and first in the MVFC as well. Day has already surpassed his season totals from 2021 in yards and touchdowns with two more games remaining in the regular season. 

Desmond Hutson was named Newcomer of the Week in the MVFC after his two touchdown performance against SIU. Hutson is a redshirt-freshman and has four touchdown receptions on the season. Cook has continued an impressive season with a big game making all five kicks he attempted. He also made history as he tied the MVFC and UNI records for field goals made in a career with 64. Four Panthers now make up the top four spots on that list. Cook also ranks first in the MVFC in field goals made this season with 11 and is tied for second with his 34 PATs.

The Jackrabbits are coming off a 49-7 victory against Indiana State. SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski threw for 233 yards, one touchdown and ran in for another score. Amar Johnson also ran in for a touchdown. The SDSU defense held the Sycamores to only 260 yards of offense and forced two turnovers. SDSU has won their last eight games posting an average of 35 points per contest. They have scored over 40 points three times during that stretch.

This game will serve as Senior Day for the UNI’s 14 seniors on the team. This game has the possibility of being a huge upset in the MVFC and won’t be one to miss. Kickoff will be at 4 p.m. in the UNI-Dome, and will also be available for streaming on ESPN+.