AMES, Iowa – Heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Northern Iowa Panthers, the Cyclones hope to end their recent losing streak to FCS teams in the season opening game.
In 2013, Iowa State fell to UNI 28-20, before following it up with a loss to North Dakota State by a score of 34-14 in 2014.
Avoiding the FCS upset for the third straight year is certainly on the mind of head coach Paul Rhoads.
“We need to play better, it’s a simple answer,” Rhoads said Monday. “We need to play better and when adversity comes – which it will – we need to be able to handle it and respond to it.”
Rhoads’ players echoed that sentiment, reiterating the importance of how winning the first game of the season plays an important role as the year progresses.
“Be able to have that confidence going into the rest of the season,” wide receiver Allen Lazard said. “Losing that first game is a downer and it starts up negativity that you just don’t need.”
“It’s the start of everything, it definitely builds confidence and really sets the tone for the rest of the season,” quarterback Sam Richardson said.
The UNI team that Iowa State will face on Saturday is in fact ranked higher than the Panthers team who beat the Cyclones in 2013.
UNI head coach Mark Farley knows what it means to beat a power five team, but he says it's just another game.
“It being Iowa State probably gets more coverage than the norm and thus you think it’s more emphasized, but really to us, it’s another week and getting ready for Iowa State,” Farely said.
Iowa State and UNI kickoff their 2015 seasons under the lights Saturday at 7 p.m. in Ames.