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Preseason poll fires up UNI

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Northern Iowa went through the Missouri Valley Football Conference last year undefeated. But a preseason league poll that gave North Dakota State a slight edge over the Panthers didn't sit well with their players this week.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Northern Iowa went through the Missouri Valley Football Conference last year undefeated. But a preseason league poll that gave North Dakota State a slight edge over the Panthers didn't sit well with their players this week.

Moreover, the fact it came against a new team in the league added salt to the poll wound.

"That got under a couple of people's skin if not the whole team," said UNI cornerback Terrell McMoore. "They're in their first year - that ruffled some feathers on our team and we came out here with a mission."

It was accomplished with a 23-13 win Saturday at the UNI-Dome.

"That definitely put a chip on our shoulder," said UNI's James Ruffin. "We win it last year and they were predicted to win it. That was a slap in the face. We took that and ran with it. We talked about it all week and we stressed to each other that we were picked to win it and we were the conference champs."

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NDSU was admitted into the league in the spring of 2007. The poll is an annual affair conducted of league coaches, media and sports information directors. The Panthers actually got more first place votes (15) than NDSU (13), but the Bison got more total points.

When asked if he talked about the poll this week, UNI head coach Mark Farley smiled.

"It did irritate us," he said. "They were chosen to win the league before they were even in the league. To go to Media Day and they were picked No. 1, our players took note of that. Nobody said anything until this week."

NDSU running back Pat Paschall said any jawing between the teams between plays, however, had more to do with NDSU being new to the league.

"We can't do anything about who's picked," said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. "The best thing we could do is go out and try to improve each week. I think Northern Iowa was a better football team than we were today. If that was motivation for them to have a chip on their shoulder, as coaches we didn't vote for that, I can tell you that."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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