SIU Salukis leap to No. 4 in latest FCS rankings

Southern Illinois players and staff celebrate Saturday’s 42-41 overtime victory at South Dakota State. The Salukis are now ranked No. 4 in the national FCS polls. (photo courtesy siusalukis.com)

Southern Illinois’ come-from-behind overtime win at previously second-ranked South Dakota State vaulted the Salukis to No. 4 in Monday’s national FCS polls.

A week ago, the Salukis were ranked No. 7 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll and No. 8 in the STATS Perform FCS poll. Following Saturday’s triumph at SDSU, Southern Illinois moved to the No. 4 position in both polls.

SIU (5-1, 3-0) stands atop the Missouri Valley Football Conference standings heading into this weekend’s home game with nationally ranked North Dakota.

“It was an exciting game, coming down to the last play two weeks in a row for us,” SIU head coach Nick Hill said during Monday’s Zoom media address. “I’m just proud of our guys and their commitment to just play hard and to do the things we set out to do.”

Saturday’s win snapped a six-game SIU losing streak to South Dakota State.

“We’ve been here (SDSU) four or five times in my tenure at Southern Illinois and we’ve never prevailed and today we did. That’s something that will live with me for the rest of my life,” Saluki punter Jack Colquhoun said afterward.

Injury update

Center Calvin Francis Jr. had surgery Monday to repair a torn ACL/meniscus. Francis will miss the rest of the season, according to Hill.

Wide receiver Avante Cox is questionable for Saturday’s game. Cox traveled with the team to South Dakota State, but only watched from the sidelines with his arm in a sling.

Fullback Jacob Garrett and linebacker Bryson Strong are eyeing returns in early November, Hill said.

Players of the Week

The Missouri Valley Football Conference named three Salukis as players of the week.

Quarterback Nic Baker improved to 8-1 as a starter and earned MVFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the third time in his career.

Jack Colquhoun

Baker rallied SIU from a 20-point deficit by completing 28-of-45 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns. The sophomore also rushed 12 times for 43 yards.

Baker led a game-tying 70-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter that included conversions on 4th-and-6 (ran for 8 yards) and 4th-and-11 (passed for 18 yards).  

Colquhoun — a 23-year-old from Melbourne, Australia — took home MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time in his career. 

Colquhoun had five punts for a 49.2 yard average, including a long of 65. He pinned SDSU inside its 10 twice and inside its 20 three times, including a field-flipping 65-yard boot that was downed at the Jackrabbits’ 1.

“There was a lot of pressure on special teams (with us down early in the game),” Colquhoun said after Saturday’s win. “When it was time for us to walk out on the field and do our job, we had to do it. That’s been at the forefront of my mind the whole season whether we’re up or down (on the scoreboard).”

Making his 40th-consecutive start, ZeVeyon Furcron won the MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week award.

The Joliet Catholic High School graduate anchored a Saluki offensive line that helped Southern generate 546 total yards (183 rushing, 363 passing) and 26 first downs. Furcron won the award for the third time in the last seven months.

Stats Perform FCS Top 25 (Oct. 11)

1. Sam Houston (5-0, 3-0 AQ7), 1,229 points (39 first-place votes)

Previous Ranking: 1; Week 6 Result: 41-7 win over Lamar

2. Eastern Washington (6-0, 3-0 Big Sky), 1,186 (9)

Previous Ranking: 6; Week 6 Result: 63-17 win at Northern Colorado

3. North Dakota State (5-0, 2-0 Missouri Valley), 1,174 (2)   

Previous Ranking: 5; Week 6 Result: 34-20 win over then-No. 16 Northern Iowa

4. Southern Illinois (5-1, 3-0 Missouri Valley), 1,081

Previous Ranking: 7; Week 6 Result: 42-41 OT win at then-No. 2 South Dakota State

5. Montana (4-1, 2-1 Big Sky), 996

Previous Ranking: 4; Week 6 Result: 31-14 win over Dixie State

6. Villanova (4-1, 2-0 CAA), 977

Previous Ranking: 12; Week 6 Result: 28-27 win at then-No. 3 James Madison

7. South Dakota State (4-1, 1-1 Missouri Valley), 972

Previous Ranking: 2; Week 6 Result: 42-41 OT loss to then-No. 8 Southern Illinois

8. James Madison (4-1, 2-1 CAA), 906

Previous Ranking: 3; Week 6 Result: 28-27 loss to then-No. 11 Villanova

9. Montana State (5-1, 3-0 Big Sky), 881

Previous Ranking: 11; Week 6 Result: 45-7 win over Cal Poly

10. ETSU (6-0, 3-0 Southern), 796

Previous Ranking: 13; Week 6 Result: 48-21 win over The Citadel

11. Southeastern Louisiana (4-1, 2-0 Southland), 741

Previous Ranking: 14; Week 6 Result: 58-48 win at then-No. 25 Nicholls

12. Rhode Island (5-0, 3-0 CAA), 694

Previous Ranking: 21; Week 6 Result: 22-15 win over then-No. 9 Delaware

13. UC Davis (5-1, 2-1 Big Sky), 564                

Previous Ranking: 8; Week 6 Result: 27-17 loss at Idaho State

14. Delaware (3-2, 2-1 CAA), 559

Previous Ranking: 9; Week 6 Result: 22-15 loss at then-No. 18 Rhode Island

15. Kennesaw State (4-1, 1-0 Big South), 543  

Previous Ranking: 20; Week 6 Result: 34-15 win at Hampton

16. Northern Iowa (3-2, 1-1 Missouri Valley), 410 

Previous Ranking: 15; Week 6 Result: 34-20 loss at then-No. 5 North Dakota State

17. UT Martin (4-1, 1-0 Ohio Valley), 409  

Previous Ranking: 23; Week 6 Result: 48-24 win over Murray State

18. UIW (4-1, 2-0 Southland), 344

Previous Ranking: 24; Week 6 Result: Open week

19. Weber State (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky), 330

Previous Ranking: 19; Week 6 Result: Open week

20. Missouri State (3-2, 2-1 Missouri Valley), 285  

Previous Ranking: 16; Week 6 Result: 41-33 loss at Youngstown State

21. South Dakota (4-2, 2-1 Missouri Valley), 229

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked; Week 6 Result: 20-13 win over then-No. 13 North Dakota

22. North Dakota (2-3, 0-2 Missouri Valley), 216

Previous Ranking: 10; Week 6 Result: 20-13 loss at South Dakota

23. New Hampshire (3-2, 2-1 CAA), 124

Previous Ranking: 25; Week 6 Result: Open week

24. Jacksonville State (3-3, 1-0 AQ7), 122  

Previous Ranking: 17; Week 6 Result: 28-24 win over then-No. 23 Stephen F. Austin

25. Princeton (4-0, 1-0 Ivy), 88

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked; Week 6 Result: 31-28 win at Monmouth

Dropped Out: Stephen F. Austin (23),Nicholls (25)

Others Receiving Votes (schools listed on two or more ballots): Mercer 78, Jackson State 63, VMI 60, Duquesne 48, Harvard 36, William & Mary 28, Central Arkansas 21, Youngstown State 20, Stephen F. Austin 11, Nicholls 10, Eastern Kentucky 9, Prairie View A&M 8

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