In the 105th Hobo Day game, the No. 7 South Dakota State Jacks will be favored against the unranked Northern Iowa Panthers.
SDSU will be fresh off their 49-14 win Southern Illinois. The win moved the Jacks up two spots in the FCS STATS poll.
Head coach John Stiegelmeier said he believes his team is at a middle ground. They aren’t the team that lost 19-7 to Youngstown State, but they might not be the team that dominated Southern Illinois 49-14.
The Panthers enter with a record of 2-3.
“(UNI) shouldn’t have lost to Western Illinois. I’m not so sure if the Western Illinois coach would disagree with me, and against Southern Utah they gave up way too many big plays, and they played Iowa State tough, so, to me they are a much better team than their record says,” Stiegelmeier said.
On offense, the Panthers struggle to move the ball. They are the third-worst offensive team in the Missouri Valley Conference. UNI averages 368 yards per game. The Panthers field the second-best MVFC passing attack.
Leading the charge for the Panthers has been senior wide receiver Daurice Fountain, who has scored four touchdowns.
“I don’t think you can shut down that Fountain kid, I think you have to limit the amount of chances for big plays he can have because he’s a premier receiver in this league,” Stiegelmeier said.
Junior quarterback Eli Dunne has been extremely effective for UNI as well. Through five games, Dunne has the 14th most passing yards in all of the Football Championship Subdivision.
“I think the Dunne kid is a really good quarterback, he has a strong arm, but I don’t know if their line is up to quality as it normally is,” Stiegelmeier said.
Dunne has been sacked 15 times in five games, which averages out to three times a game.
The Jackrabbit defense hunkered down and only allowed 14 points against the Saluki offense while forcing two turnovers.
Northern Iowa struggles defensively this year. They have the third-worst defense in the MVFC, allowing 31 points per game and 450 yards per game.
A big question for the Panthers will be how they defend Jake Wieneke and Dallas Goedert who have not performed to their high standards, but still require attention.
Wieneke and Goedert will look to bounce back this week after the Saluki defense held them to 57 combined yards.
As for the rest of the Jacks, they plan to attack the defensive weakness of the Panthers, which may lead to a balanced offensive attack.
Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. Saturday at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.