No. 8 SIU tests its mettle at FBS Kansas State Saturday

Javon Williams Jr. (15) and the SIU Salukis travel to Kansas State Saturday. (photo courtesy siusalukis.com)

Southern Illinois steps up in class with a Saturday game against Kansas State, a member of the Big 12 Conference, but don’t tell Salukis head coach Nick Hill it’s just one of those FCS at FBS matchups for a money guarantee.

“It’s a great opponent. Anytime you play a Power 5 opponent, there’s the obvious things. (They’re) supposed to have more depth, more scholarships, all that kind of stuff,” Hill said during Monday’s Zoom media address.

“We’ve been here before. This is our sixth season; we’ve always played FBS schools. This one is as good as anyone we’ve played,” Hill added. “Our team will be really excited for the opportunity to play well. This is a veteran (SIU) group . . . it’s not going to be wide-eyed, let’s look at this bigger stadium and how cool it is to play. I think we have a team that’s going to have high expectations.”

According to SIU’s official athletic website, 19 of the 104 players on the SIU roster are seniors. Of those, 17 are sixth-year seniors and two are fifth-year seniors.

The Salukis (1-0) are ranked No. 8 in this week’s STATS FCS poll. Kansas State (1-0) opened its season with a 24-7 victory over Stanford.

“It’s about going and executing and playing well and that’s going to be our (approach) as a coaching staff as well,” Hill said. “We won’t treat this game any differently. We’ll put together the best plan we can to execute and go out and play at a high level.”

Salukis versus the Big 12

 SIU and Kansas State have never met in football. The Salukis have played only two Big 12 teams all-time and are 0-4 in those games.

SIU is 0-3 against Kansas and 0-1 versus Oklahoma State. SIU’s last game with a Big 12 team was a 42-0 loss at Kansas in 2000.

Baker’s big day

Saluki quarterback Nic Baker was chosen as Missouri Valley Football Conference co-Offensive Player of the Week following SIU’s 47-21 triumph at Southeast Missouri State in the opener for both teams.

Baker set the school record with 460 passing yards. The sophomore from downstate Rochester improved to 4-0 as a starter at SIU by completing 25-of-34 passes with four touchdowns and one interception.

His first pass of the game went for a school-record 99 yards to former high school teammate Avante Cox. Nine different players caught passes and four different players caught touchdowns from Baker.

Scouting Kansas State

The Wildcats ran for 200 yards while holding the Stanford offense to just 39 yards on the ground. It was the fewest rushing yards allowed by a K-State defense since allowing 31 yards to Texas Tech in 2018, and the fewest in a non-conference Power 5 matchup since allowing 17 rushing yards to Arizona State in the 2002 Holiday Bowl.

Quarterback Skylar Thompson ranks in the top 10 in school history in 15 career categories. He had two rushing touchdowns against Stanford to give him 24 in his career, which ranks fourth in K-State history among quarterbacks.

Defensively, Kansas State rotated nearly 10 players along the defensive front against Stanford; linebackers Daniel Green and Cody Fletcher combined for 17 tackles and a sack.

Payday

According to published reports, Southern Illinois will receive a $450,000 guarantee from Kansas State for the matchup.

Where to find the game

Southern Illinois plays at Kansas State Saturday. Kickoff is 6 p.m. It will be televised on ESPN+ and the Big 12 Now and broadcast on the Saluki Radio Network.

 

Leave a comment