IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz doesn’t mind playing Northern Iowa.

Yes, the Panthers, a traditional FCS power, have given Ferentz’s Iowa football team fits in recent years.

But Ferentz looks at playing the Panthers as a welcome challenge.

Iowa needed to block two field goals in the final seconds to win the 2009 game, 17-16. The Hawkeyes only won 27-16 in 2012, and took away a 31-23 victory in 2014.

So Ferentz only needs to point to the recent past to prove his point heading into Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game between the two teams at Kinnick Stadium.

“When they go on the road, they're tough,” Ferentz said. “But I mentioned our three games because those are games we all as coaches were involved in, their coaches were involved in, at least (head coach Mark Farley), and there's a common denominator between all three of them. They show up to play, they show up and they're playing to win, they play tough, they play hard, and we're going to have to work hard to come out victorious here.”

The Panthers (0-1) lost their season opener at Montana, then had last week off, so the Hawkeyes don’t have much to go by in a scouting report.

“We just have to go play our game, just like they're playing their game,” Farley said. “I mean, we're not going to fool them. They're very confident. They're a very strong, good looking football team right now...they're probably a bigger handful right now than in many years past.”

“We know they’re a good team,” Iowa safety Jake Gervase said. “They always play us tough.”

A look at the keys to the game:

UNI QUARTERBACK SHUFFLE: Farley hasn’t committed to Eli Dunne or Colton Howell at quarterback.

Dunne, No. 1 on the depth chart in fall camp, completed just 5-of-20 passes against Montana. Howell was 11-of-22 for 140 yards and a touchdown.

IOWA’S PASSING GAME: There’s no danger of Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley not playing in the game, but Ferentz knows Stanley has struggled a bit to open the season.

Stanley has completed 27-of-51 passes for 274 yards and one touchdown.

“Yeah, I think he looks like he's pressing to me a little bit,” Ferentz said. “ I know a little bit about throwing a baseball, and you can't aim a ball, I know that, when you throw something. I think he's doing a little bit of that right now, trying to be too perfect, and then the points earlier we're just not quite there in terms of sync. Just going to keep working at it. There's no pixie dust or pill we give a guy or something like that. It's just working through it and developing confidence.”

GETTING THE RECEIVERS INVOLVED: Brandon Smith has just one reception this season. So does Nick Easley.

If Iowa wants to get the passing game going, the Hawkeyes will have to get the wide receivers involved.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who has four catches for 73 yards this season for Iowa, is questionable for the game.

IT’S LOUD TO THE NORTH: The new enclosed north end zone has made for a louder Kinnick Stadium.

“Usually when you're on the field, you're in your zone, and you can kind of block it out,” Gervase said. “But this last week, there were a couple of third downs where I'm sitting there, reading my keys and getting ready to go. But at the same time I hear everybody going nuts.”

INJURY REPORT: Iowa running back Ivory Kelly-Martin is also questionable with an ankle injury.

Kelly-Martin has 16 carries for 62 yards this season.