Despite being idle with a bye week, head coach Nick Hill’s Southern Illinois Salukis moved up one spot in the national FCS rankings. SIU now stands at No. 3 in both polls.
The Salukis, winners of five straight games, are 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Southern’s only loss came at FBS member Kansas State.
SIU plays a league game at Northern Iowa Saturday. UNI is fresh off a 26-17 upset of previously-ranked No. 6 South Dakota State. The Panther stand at No. 16 in the STATS Peform poll and No. 17 in the coaches ratings.
Weber State’s upset of previously No. 2-ranked Eastern Washington this past weekend is the main reason SIU moved to third in the polls.
The Salukis had been ranked fourth for the past two weeks in both the STATS Perform FCS media poll and the American Football Coaches Association rankings.
Sam Houston State remains atop the national rankings. North Dakota State, a Missouri Valley member, moved into the No. 2 slot.
According to the MVFC, the league has two of the top 3 positions in a weekly top-25 poll for the 41st time in conference history and first time this year.
ISU freshman grabs weeks Missouri Valley awards
Running back Cole Mueller rode a career-best performance to a pair of Missouri Valley Football Conference honors.
Mueller, a freshman from Wentzville, Mo., garnered both the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week following ISU’s upset of No. 15 South Dakota.
Mueller ran for a career-high 178 yards on 25 carries and scored a touchdown to lead the Redbirds to a 20-14 victory over the Coyotes. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry against the Coyotes and scored the game’s lone offensive touchdown for ISU on a 69-yard run in the second quarter that put the Redbirds up 10-0.
It was his third 100-plus yard effort of the season. Mueller leads the team with 578 yards on the season and three rushing TDs. He is on track to become the first freshman to lead ISU in rushing since 1993.
The Redbirds return to action next Saturday at Western Illinois, with kickoff set for 3 p.m. in Macomb.