IOWA CITY, Iowa - It's probably not a good idea to anger Carl Davis. At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Iowa's senior defensive tackle likely could squash you like a grape.
One way to avoid Davis' wrath would be by respecting this week's opponent, Northern Iowa (Saturday, 11 a.m., BTN). The tendency for fans and media might to to discount the lower-division Panthers, who play in the FCS.
"It definitely makes me upset when people say that," Davis said. "In the '09 season when everybody probably said, "Oh, you're just playing UNI" and then we had to try to block two field goals to try to win the game. You can't look past anybody. That's my mindset. I'm not looking past anybody.
"They're going to be a great opponent. I'm looking forward to the challenge. It will be a challenge. They've got a great running back. They've got a good offensive line, quarterbacks and receivers. And I'm sure they have good coaches also. We're just trying to do what we can on our end to make sure we can win."
Iowa coaches should have had their players' attention this week. The Panthers won at Iowa State last year after close calls against the Hawkeyes in '09, the Cyclones in '11 and Wisconsin two seasons ago. Those Big Ten teams played in BCS bowls at the end of those campaigns.
"UNI has always played us well in the past," Hawkeye defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat said. "Coach (Kirk) Ferentz always mentions 2009 when we were fortunate to block two field goals to win it. They're a very good opponent, they play hard and these guys play with a chip on their shoulders. So, we've got to be ready to go and we've got to be the same way."
Current Hawkeye Graduate Assistant Broderick Binns blocked Billy Hallgren's 40-yard field goal attempt with seven seconds remaining in a game Iowa led UNI, 17-16, on Sept. 5, 2009. Instead of falling on the ball and ending the contest there, the Hawkeyes left it alone, believing that was the right thing to do. The Panthers recovered it and were awarded another field goal try because the ball never crossed the line of scrimmage.
This time linebacker Jeremiha Hunter, who was positioned to recover the first blocked kick but listened to his teammates and let it go, leaped up and knocked down Hallgren's second attempt allowing the home team to hang on. Iowa went on to win its next eight games and finished 11-2 with a victory against Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
"Against us it took a miracle, not good fortune but basically a miracle for us to win," Ferentz said. "We better be at our best, I know that."
After their close loss to Iowa, the Panthers defeated FCS power North Dakota State in the '10 season opener. The next two seasons began with a 20-19 loss at Iowa State and a 26-21 defeat at Wisconsin. To kick off '13, they broke through with a 28-20 win against the Cyclones in Ames.
"Early season, they don't seem to mind where they go or who they play. They go play well," Ferentz said. "So, if we're surprised by that, which we were in '09 for whatever reason, we better change our attitude on that one."