CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The University of Northern Iowa football team has been picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the 2012 season it was announced today.
The Panthers, who were picked to win the conference last season, come in behind defending national champion North Dakota State in the poll. The Bison received 37 of 38 first-place votes in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.
UNI received 300 total points to get the No. 2 spot. The Panthers compiled a 10-3 overall record and 7-1 league slate to earn a share of the MVFC title during the 2011 season. UNI has been ranked in the top-25 in 94 consecutive polls.
Youngstown State is No. 3 in the poll with Illinois State and Indiana State rounding out the top-10. South Dakota State comes in at No. 6 with Southern Illinois grabbing the No. 6 spot. Newcomers South Dakota gains the No. 8 spot on the poll with Western Illinois and Missouri State coming in at No. 9 and 10.
The MVFC also announced the 2012 Missouri Valley Football Preseason Team today with UNI earning two first team selections and two honorable mention selections. Place kicker Tyler Sievertsen and cornerback Varmah Sonie both garnered first team selections while offensive lineman Misha Danilov and safety Garrett Scott both were named to the honorable mention squad.
Sievertsen made 18 of 20 field goal attempts during the 2011 season, ranking No. 2 in the nation with 90 percent accuracy. He was first team All-Conference and a three-time MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Sonie was a first-team All-Conference selection during the 2011 season. He finished with 70 tackles, three interceptions and seven pass breakups. He helped lead the Panther defense to a No. 12 national ranking in scoring and the league's No. 1 spot in pass defense.
Danilov started all 13 games for the Panthers during the 2011 season, helping UNI average 167.8 yards on the ground and 166.7 yards through the air per game. Scott played an integral part in the back field for the Panthers notching 105 tackles, nine pass breakups and 3.5 tackles for loss during the 2011 season.
The Panthers are set to open their season against Wisconsin in Madison, Wisc. on Sept. 1. The game is set to kick-off at 2:30 p.m.