Just as promised here I will previewing all of the non-conference opponents.
The Northern Iowa Panthers were a last minute replacement to play BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium on August 30th. The Panthers are from the Gateway Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision, (I-AA) and is a very good one at that. Last season Northern Iowas went 11-0 in the regular season and was ranked number one in the polls. Northern Iowa did defeat an Football Bowl Subdivision team in Iowas State on the road. Their offense was quite impressive by averaging 36 points per game. Northern Iowa eventually lost to Delaware 39-27 in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Over the past 5 years UNI has averaged 9.4 wins per season, so they are accustomed to winning and have had some players make NFL rosters in the recent years.
In 2008 the panthers return 6 offensive starters and ARE led by running back Corey Lewis who had over 2,100 all purpose yards and 16 touchdowns. The Panthers do however lose three year starter QB Eric Sanders who passed for 2,806 yards and competed an amazing 75% of his passes, and will be replaced with Patrick Grace who had very limited playing time. Looking back at the Panther offense they like to pass the ball and as mentioned above complete a high percentage of passes.
This game could be entertaining early on since both BYU and Northern Iowas like to pass the ball a lot.
Seven defensive starters return to the Panthers and they were very good against their opponents and gave up only 20 points or more just three times all last year. Teams had a tough time running or passing as the their defense was well rounded, but this offense they will be facing is nothing like they have seen at all last year. Saying that this game will provide a stiff test for the Panthers to test this defense.
Early Prediction: The early prediction is a BYU win by at two to three touchdowns, with the game being close for the first half.