CEDAR FALLS — The University of Northern Iowa set a record without playing a game last week.
The Panthers were in the Top 25 polls for the 99th consecutive week, surpassing the University of Southern Illinois for the longest stretch in Missouri Valley Football Conference history.
“You have to have a great university and administrative support,” Coach Mark Farley said Monday at his weekly news conference. “We’ve always had community support.
“Football is important here and football is important to our administration and our athletic department.
“It’s the excitement that rubs off, and the expectation to always be there. Even when you’re 1-4, you’re expected to be one game better. That helps push yourself every day.”
This week, the Panthers (1-4, 0-2 MVFC) fell out of the coaches and The Sports Network poll for the first time since Nov. 15, 2004.
UNI faces SIU (3-3, 2-1) in Carbondale, Ill. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. UNI has had extra time to prepare for the Salukis, coming off its bye week.
“I think I’ll find out more about the bye week this week,” Farley said. “We got three good days on the practice field so we’ll go back after today and hopefully they’ll have a fresh look walking in the door.”
SIU is coming off an upset of Illinois State University, a game in which the Salukis shut out ISU’s high-powered passing offense. Farley is looking for the same from his defense, which has given up 25.6 points per game.
“You have new coaches and new players, which can be a deadly combination sometimes.” he said. “You’re trying to get your coaches (prepared) and at the same time what we relay to the players.
“That all takes time. I’ve got great young assistants, but they’re adapting to how we play versus how they play and the systems they were in.
“We don’t have any turnovers if you throw out the Central State game. We don’t have any turnovers and very few sacks. We have to pick that intensity up at the line of scrimmage on third downs if we’re going to be effective.
“That’s the concern, and that’s the emphasis as we move forward.”