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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 11 2013

Salukis face another big test today

FARGO – Last week, it was South Dakota State, a team that was ranked ninth in the FCS coaches poll. This week, it’s Northern Iowa, which is ranked fifth.

Next week, it will be currently top-ranked North Dakota State for Southern Illinois, which is in the middle of a three-game stretch that not many FCS teams see.

“The schedule is definitely a little top-heavy for us,” said SIU head coach Dale Lennon. “But for us, this has become standard game prep for us. It’s another week of Saluki football and that’s how we’re taking it.”

SIU is seemingly in a situation where it needs a quality FCS win to put itself in the playoff hunt. At 3-3 overall, it can ill afford many more losses. The Salukis are playing 12 games, so they can still get to eight wins with another defeat.

But their chances are running out.

They got a boost last week with the 27-24 win over South Dakota State in Brookings, S.D.

“We needed to win a game in that fashion, where your defense has to make a stop to win the game for you,” Lennon said. “We’ve had several go against us. It’s confidence.”

Stiegelmeier: Jacks not playing up to potential

The Jackrabbits’ third straight loss, meanwhile, dropped them to No. 18 in the coaches poll. Moreover, head coach John Stiegelmeier said the team has more to worry about than rankings.

He said his team needs to get its confidence back.

“I have no problems if we play up to our potential,” Stiegelmeier said. “But what eats away at you is when you don’t execute your defense and don’t execute your reads on offense.”

SDSU is at Western Illinois today. The Jacks have won every matchup in their five years in the Missouri Valley.

Junior quarterback Austin Sumner last week became the school’s all-time passing leader with 6,165 yards. The previous mark was 6,023 held by Ryan Berry from 2005-08.

Youngstown hoping not to repeat last season

Youngstown State has quietly put itself in good position for an FCS playoff spot, although head coach Eric Wolford doesn’t want to hear about it. The Penguins were in a similar situation last year, starting their season 4-0.

“After we beat Northern Iowa, everybody thought we were going to win the national championship,” Wolford said. “We learned our lesson about that stuff. It’s one game at a time around here. We’ll be obsessed about fundamentals and doing the little things right.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia