CEDAR FALLS | Northern Iowa's football team can say it in public now.
The Panthers' eyes are on Iowa.
UNI took care of business in decisive fashion Saturday night when it dismissed Division II Central State, 59-0, at the UNI-Dome. Officially, the focus shifts to the Hawkeyes, who are 1-1 after a tough win against Northern Illinois and a frustrating loss at the hands of Iowa State.
UNI has the same mark, and an altered perspective on playing at Kinnick Stadium. Why? The Panthers of 2012 have already played - and played reasonably well - in a big venue. Just over a week ago, UNI dropped a narrow, 26-21, decision to Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium before about 79,000 fans.
Said Panther head coach Mark Farley, "It's a different feeling now that we've been to Wisconsin. We've been to a game with that caliber to it."
Farley added, "I just think the tone of playing them (the Hawkeyes) is a little different. It's more like we're in tune with how we're playing, even if it is against Iowa."
Three years ago, UNI came within an eyelash of upsetting Iowa at Kinnick. The Hawkeyes blocked two Billy Hallgren field goal tries at game's end and hung on for a 17-16 victory.
One of the Panthers who was on the field in 2009 thinks today's UNI team has been well-prepared for this round with Iowa by its first two games.
"I think this sets the stage really well," said senior running back and co-captain Carlos Anderson. "I think people in this state and people in our school and our town are gonna be looking forward to this game. We sure are looking forward to it.
"It should be a good one - should be an exciting game."
As for the ghosts of the missed chance against Iowa three years ago, Anderson shrugged them off.
"I wouldn't say we're striving for anything or letting those two field goals motivate us," added the UNI senior. "Obviously, it's a sour taste in our mouth. This is this year's team - not last year or three years ago's team. We go out looking to win every game just like we went out looking to win the Wisconsin game and looking to win this game.
"We're going to treat it like every other game and try to go out and win."
ATTENTION SPANNED: Farley said he did not watch any of Iowa State's 9-6 victory over Iowa Saturday.
"They came and reported the scores to me as it was unfolding," he said. "I hate looking at the next opponent because I don't think we do justice to the one ... here. And I can't afford to not look at the opponent we're going to play."
NO SATISFACTION GUARANTEED: While UNI beat Central State easily, Farley didn't like everything he saw. He noted UNI had seven penalties in the opening 30 minutes,for example and turned the ball over in the final half.
"We seem to be playing with good rhythm at this time of the year, but we can get so much better," said Farley.
HEALTH CARE: Farley said UNI left the Dome Saturday night in good shape, relatively speaking The Panthers were not at 100 percent after the Wisconsin game, but no additional physical problems could be seen.
From a coach's perspective, two good things happened. The 38-0 halftime lead gave Farley a chance to rest his first-stringers on both sides of the ball. That, in turn, meant opportunities for UNI's reserves to get a multitude of snaps in the last two quarters.
So, backup quarterbacks Jared Lanpher and Stephen Kaiser divided time in the second half. Tim Kilfoy and Deiandre Hall, a pair of true freshman safeties, filled in for Garrett Scott and Wilmot Wellington.
"This will give us a chance to get our legs back a little bit more this week," said Farley, who added, "It played out the way I hoped that way."