After playing what was considered to be the toughest FCS schedule in the country this past season, the competition won't get any easier for the UNI football team in 2020.

The Panthers will be hosting five opponents that finished 2019 ranked among the top-12 nationally. Games at Iowa and Idaho State are also among the six they'll play on the road.

The five home opponents ranked at the end of 2019 include Weber State (No. 3), three-time defending national champion North Dakota State (No. 1), Illinois State (No. 7) and South Dakota State (No. 12).

UNI opens on the road for the ninth consecutive season on Sept. 5, when the Panthers play the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. UNI then travels to Pocatello, Idaho, for a Sept. 12 game against Idaho State at Holt Arena, the oldest domed college football stadium in the country.

The Panthers face Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) opponent Southern Illinois for the first time since 2017 and will not play Indiana State as part of the league's schedule rotation. For the first time since 2012, their bye week on Oct. 31 occurs during conference play.

Coach Mark Farley's team has 16 starters returning from the 2019 squad that finished fifth in the final standings. UNI has four offensive line starting coming back and every member of the defensive line that played in the FCS Playoffs. Not included among the returning starters are 2019 Preseason All-American tight end Briley Moore, and 2018 defensive starter Korby Sander.

UNI athletic officials released the 2020 football schedule on Tuesday. Season tickets go on sale Monday, Feb. 3.

2020 UNI FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Sat., Sept. 5at IowaIowa City, IowaT.B.A.
Sat., Sept. 12at Idaho StatePocatello, IdahoT.B.A.
Sat., Sept. 19WEBER STATE (Family Weekend)CEDAR FALLS, IOWAT.B.A.
Sat., Sept. 26NORTH DAKOTA STATECEDAR FALLS, IOWAT.B.A.
Sat., Oct. 3at Southern IllinoisCarbondale, Ill.T.B.A.
Sat., Oct. 10at Western IllinoisMacomb, Ill.T.B.A.
Sat., Oct. 17ILLINOIS STATE (Homecoming)CEDAR FALLS, IOWAT.B.A.
Sat., Oct. 24at South DakotaVermillion, S.D.T.B.A.
Sat., Oct. 31BYE
Sat., Nov. 7SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (Band Day)CEDAR FALLS, IOWAT.B.A.
Sat., Nov. 14at Youngstown StateYoungstown, OhioT.B.A.
Sat., Nov. 21MISSOURI STATE (Senior Day)CEDAR FALLS, IOWAT.B.A.