Panthers 5-5 entering regular season finale

The Panthers will conclude their regular season on Saturday, traveling to South Dakota to take on the Coyotes. After a 31-28 loss to No. 1 South Dakota State, the Panther postseason chances are slim.

ADAM JOHNSON, Sports Writer

The UNI football team was on a bye this week, so there was no football action for the Panthers on Saturday. This made for a great opportunity to look at how the season has gone for UNI, as there is only one game left on the schedule.

To this point in the season, UNI has a record of 5-5, and a lot of close victories and losses have put the team where they are. The season started with three straight losses against really good Air Force, North Dakota and Sacramento State teams. The North Dakota game came down to the wire, but the Panthers lost 27-29.

UNI then won back-to-back games with a blowout victory against Western Illinois, and a close matchup with Indiana State. Against the Sycamores, UNI’s defense managed to stand tall late in the game, and UNI won, 20-14. Against Illinois State, UNI had the ball with one minute left, and needed a field goal to win. They came up just short, however, and lost to the Redbirds 23-21. The Panthers then went on to dominate Utah Tech and Missouri State.

With playoff hopes looking slim at 4-4, UNI went on the road to No. 20 Southern Illinois. This was an absolute shootout, and the Panthers narrowly edged out the Salukis by just one yard, when Southern Illinois came just shy of the endzone on a last second hail mary. Following the big victory, the Panthers hosted No. 1 South Dakota State. This was a close game throughout, and UNI nearly pulled off the upset, but South Dakota State pulled off the victory with a game winning field goal as the clock expired.

The loss to South Dakota State put UNI’s record at 5-5, and nearly eliminated their playoff chances. Even a victory at South Dakota next week would likely not be enough to get the Panthers into the playoffs. While this is disappointing, this UNI team has given us plenty to cheer about. 

Quarterback Theo Day has been incredible in the passing game, throwing for a conference leading 2741 yards and 21 touchdowns. Sam Schnee has been on the receiving side of many of Day’s passes, as he has 45 receptions for 699 yards. Dom Williams and Vance McShane have been a great duo in the backfield, combining for nearly 1300 yards on the season and Williams having nine rushing touchdowns. All of these guys and many others have made UNI one of the best offenses in the conference this season. They rank fourth in the conference in scoring, averaging 30.5 points per game, fourth in rushing yards with 150.8 per game, first in passing yards with 279.3 per game and first in total yards with 430.1 per game. 

The Panthers will have a chance to showcase their stellar offense and finish the season on a good note, as they travel to South Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 19.