Heeeere come the Panthers!! College football is returning to the UNI-Dome in February.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference released the league's schedule Thursday afternoon. The slate has UNI opening the 2021 spring season at home against Illinois State on Feb. 20 in Cedar Falls.

The MVFC schedule has the same home and road opponents as the previously scheduled 2020 fall season, but the order of the games was rearranged to accommodate weather and facility issues, a press release said.

Following UNI's home-opener, the Panthers have a Friday night game on the road. They'll travel to face South Dakota in the Dakota Dome on Feb. 26.

UNI will then host Missouri State on March 6, before playing three consecutive road games against Western Illinois (March 13), Southern Illinois (March 20) and Youngstown State (March 27).

The Panthers will have a bye week on April 3 before hosting three-time defending national champion North Dakota State on April 10. The regular-season finale is April 17 against South Dakota State, also at the UNI-Dome.

Pairings for the FCS Playoffs will be announced April 18, with first-round games beginning April 24. On Tuesday, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted to reduce the playoff field to 16 teams. Eight spots were cut from the traditional 24-team bracket.

The national championship game will be played in Frisco, Texas, between May 14-16.

The Panthers are ranked No. 3 in the FCS in the STATS Perform Preseason Poll. Six UNI players were named to the FCS STATS Perform Preseason First and Second Team.

Head Coach Mark Farley enters his 20th season at the helm and is the active leader in playoff wins with a 17-12 record in his career. He has 159 career victories.

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