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Mat’s Sports Minute: Saturday’s game is about more than just winning

Sports Columnist

Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012

Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 14:08


MARK HOFFMAN/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT Campus

Bret Bielema is entering his seventh year as head coach of the Badgers and has a record of 60-19.

There is a lot of talk going around the University of Northern Iowa campus concerning two of UNI’s first three games of the football season. If you haven’t heard, UNI is traveling to Madison, Wis., to square off with the No. 12-ranked University of Wisconsin Badgers for the season opener.

    After a home game against Division-II Central State University, the Panthers will travel to Iowa City to take on intra-state rivals, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, Sept. 15.

    So what does all this mean for the UNI football program?
    Walking around campus, I have heard a lot of, “well, there are two losses right away,” or, “I just hope they don’t get injured.”
    However, it is possible that winning is not the only goal for our football organization in games such as these.

    Look at Wisconsin and all of the hype they have this year being the No. 12-ranked team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. You could look at the Badgers’ recent history and declare them a powerhouse football school. In other words, a ton of people will be watching this game and you can bet that our Panthers will make one heck of an impression on each one of them, win or lose.

    Not only will new and potentially better recruits be watching the game, but think about the impact if UNI pulls off the monumental upset. It would almost be comparable to the UNI men’s basketball team beating Kansas University to make it to the Sweet Sixteen in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

    When basketball recruits asked UNI head coach Ben Jacobson why they should play for him, he had a Sweet 16 banner to point at in the rafters of the McLeod Center. Just the fact that our Football Championship Subdivision program has made a big enough name for itself to play two of the top football programs in the nation says enough.

    On paper, the critics say that the UNI football team will lose both of their games against Big Ten Conference opponents, but in reality it can be seen as a win for the Panthers no matter what.

    They are playing for more than just the experience or a couple of big wins. This season is about expanding our already established program into something bigger and better. Our Panthers will be playing for the opportunity to make this fact loud and clear: UNI is the real deal, and has have earned the right to play against two of the top football schools in the nation.

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