Iowa State hosts UNI in crucial opener

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AMES, Iowa (AP) — Hardly anyone outside of the state will pay much attention to the Northern Iowa-Iowa State game.

Yet it's an opener with big ramifications for both programs.

Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads enters his seventh season in Ames under great scrutiny after back-to-back 3-9 and 2-10 seasons; including two straight defeats to FCS opponents on opening day. A third such loss — on a night when the Cyclones will host their largest crowd in school history — could doom Rhoads' tenure at Iowa State.

Northern Iowa opens 2015 ranked 10th in the FCS and eager to make a long playoff push.

Plus, the Panthers know they can win at Jack Trice Stadium. They did it two years ago — and in 2007 as well.

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