CEDAR FALLS — After 11 full seasons as the University of Northern Iowa’s head football coach, Mark Farley knows it’s not time to panic.
“This isn’t our first rodeo,” he said Monday at his weekly news conference.
UNI is 1-2 — the two losses coming to Big Ten opponents — heading into its conference opener Saturday.
“We’ve got an inconsistent (team),” Farley said. “We did a really good job on defense against Wisconsin and an average job on offense. At Iowa, I feel we did an average job on defense and a good job on offense.
“Right now we’re inconsistent, but a lot of that inconsistency is due to the fact you just played two Big Ten opponents. Hopefully, we’ll be a better team for it.”
In the next two weeks, UNI faces two Missouri Valley Football Conference teams chosen as favorites to win the conference. This week, the Panthers take on Youngstown State in Youngstown, Ohio, followed by defending national champion North Dakota State.
“Their coaching staff has got them in a mindset that they haven’t had in a while,” Farley said of Youngstown. “If your players are in the right mindset, I think you can play with anybody at any time. Talent-wise, I think they’re very good, but I do know they’re a better team because of their mindset.”
Because UNI’s lone win over Division II Central State will not count to the playoff committee (only D-I wins are tallied), UNI may have to go 7-1 in its final eight games to make it to the postseason again. Historically, no team has ever made the playoffs with less than seven Division I wins.
“If there wasn’t a financial situation, I’d weigh the thought process totally differently,” Farley said about ever playing two FBS opponents in the same year. “We’ll play whoever we’re asked to play. I feel like we can play with anybody, but we have to beat some of these teams now. If we’re going to play two (FBS teams) a year, we have to beat one of them to get ourselves in a better position.”