Second straight loss spirals Salukis down eight slots in national rankings

Southern Illinois has an unscheduled bye Saturday, after Illinois State canceled its remaining games, and will host Western Illinois on April 10. (photo courtesy siusalukis.com)

Two weeks ago, Southern Illinois’ record stood at 4-1 and the Salukis were ranked No. 5 in the country with visions of the FCS playoffs staring them firmly in the eyes.

However, two consecutive losses has dropped SIU not only in the national rankings but have also dimmed those playoff hopes. This spring’s pandemic-inflicted playoff bracket is designed for 16 teams, reduced from the normal 24-school fall field.

Saturday’s defeat at Missouri State was especially perplexing given that the 10th-ranked Salukis built a 19-7 halftime lead. Bobby Petrino’s Bears rallied to score three touchdowns in the game’s final 20 minutes and kicked a game-winning field goal to edge SIU 30-27.

SIU now stands at No. 18, having dropped eight spots in the Stats Perform FCS national poll. Previously unranked Missouri State vaulted to No. 19.

Six teams from the Missouri Valley Football Conference appear in this week’s poll. Moreover, three are in the Top 6 — North Dakota State (2), South Dakota State (4) and North Dakota (6).

The Salukis defeated then top-ranked NDSU, the defending national champion, 38-14 in Carbondale Feb. 27. SIU lost to both South Dakota State (44-3 on March 20) and North Dakota (44-21 on Feb. 20).

SIU’s last victory came March 13 against then-No. 4 Northern Iowa 17-16. UNI, 34-20 winners over Western Illinois Saturday, is 23rd in this week’s poll.

Southern lost an opportunity for another win when Illinois State announced it was opting out of the spring season. The Salukis were scheduled to play the Redbirds Saturday in Normal.

SIU has one remaining regular season game; the Salukis host in-state rival Western Illinois April 10.

STATS PERFORM FCS TOP 25 (MARCH 29)

1. James Madison (4-0, 2-0 CAA), 982 points (31 first-place votes)

Previous Ranking: 1; Week 7 Result: 38-10 win at William & Mary

2. North Dakota State (5-1, 4-1 Missouri Valley), 937 (5)

Previous Ranking: 2; Week 7 Result: Canceled at South Dakota

3. Weber State (3-0 Big Sky), 915 (1)

Previous Ranking: 3; Week 7 Result: 28-23 win over Northern Arizona

4. South Dakota State (4-1 Missouri Valley), 882 (2)

Previous Ranking: 4; Week 7 Result: Canceled vs. Illinois State

5. Sam Houston (3-0 Southland), 839 (1)

Previous Ranking: 5; Week 7 Result: No game

6. North Dakota (4-1 Missouri Valley), 791

Previous Ranking: 6; Week 7 Result: Postponed at Youngstown State

7. Kennesaw State (3-0, 1-0 Big South), 728

Previous Ranking: 8; Week 7 Result: Postponed at Gardner-Webb

8. Delaware (3-0 CAA), 719

Previous Ranking: 11; Week 7 Result: 35-21 win at then-No. 18 Rhode Island

9. Eastern Washington (3-1 Big Sky), 615

Previous Ranking: 12; Week 7 Result: 62-10 win over Cal Poly

10. VMI (5-0 Southern), 593

Previous Ranking: 14; Week 7 Result: 36-31 win at Wofford

11. UC Davis (3-1 Big Sky), 559

Previous Ranking: 15; Week 7 Result: 31-27 win over Idaho State

12. Jacksonville State (7-2, 4-1 Ohio Valley), 535

Previous Ranking: 7; Week 7 Result: 13-10 loss to Austin Peay

13. Nicholls (4-1, 3-1 Southland), 522

Previous Ranking: 17; Week 7 Result: 75-45 win over then-No. 13 UIW

14. Murray State (5-0 Ohio Valley), 474

Previous Ranking: 19; Week 7 Result: 41-27 win over Eastern Illinois

15. Richmond (3-0 CAA), 410

Previous Ranking: 21; Week 7 Result: 31-17 win over Elon

16. Villanova (1-1 CAA), 367

Previous Ranking: 16; Week 7 Result: Postponed vs. then-No. 24 New Hampshire

17. Chattanooga (3-2, 3-1 Southern), 304

Previous Ranking: 9; Week 7 Result: 35-28 loss to Mercer

18. Southern Illinois (4-3, 3-3 Missouri Valley), 267

Previous Ranking: 10; Week 7 Result: 30-27 loss at Missouri State

19. Missouri State (4-4, 4-1 Missouri Valley), 226

Previous Ranking: Unranked; Week 7 Result: 30-27 win over then-No. 10 Southern Illinois

20. UIW (3-1 Southland), 206

Previous Ranking: 13; West 7 Result: 75-45 loss at then-No. 17 Nicholls

21. Furman (3-2 Southern), 194

Previous Ranking: 20; Week 7 Result: No game

22. Rhode Island (2-1 CAA), 181

Previous Ranking: 18; Week 7 Result: 35-21 loss to then-No. 11 Delaware

23. Northern Iowa (3-3 Missouri Valley), 176

Previous Ranking: 22; Week 7 Result: 34-20 win at Western Illinois

24. Idaho (3-3 Big Sky), 110

Previous Ranking: Unranked; Week 7 Result: 33-32 win over Southern Utah

25. Southeastern Louisiana (2-2 Southland), 103

Previous Ranking: 23; Week 7 Result: No game

Dropped Out: New Hampshire (24), Maine (25)

Others Receiving Votes (schools listed on two or more ballots): Maine 82, Monmouth 61, Tarleton 37, San Diego 36, Duquesne 35, Gardner-Webb 35, New Hampshire 30, Jackson State 28, Austin Peay 11, ETSU 10

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