SIU to play at home vs. SEMO on Oct. 23

“SEMO being 45 minutes away gives us an opportunity to play at home,” Hill said.

Southern+Illinois+University+Saluki+freshman+running+back%2C+Romeir+Elliot%2C+runs+for+a+touchdown+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+9%2C+2019%2C+during+the+Salukis%27+37-14+win+against+the+Missouri+State+Bears+in+Carbondale.+

Nicole Tillberg | @NicoleTillberg

Southern Illinois University Saluki freshman running back, Romeir Elliot, runs for a touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, during the Salukis’ 37-14 win against the Missouri State Bears in Carbondale.

The Saluki football team will host the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks on Oct. 23.

This will be SIU’s only game this fall because the Missouri Valley Football Conference games and the FCS playoffs have been pushed back to spring due to the pandemic. 

SIU football head coach Nick Hill said every team in the league is starting practice this week.

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Hill said the NCAA has announced the fall game will count towards the FCS playoff selection, meaning these games will count as much as the games played in spring in regards to qualifying for the FCS playoffs. 

“It’s two teams ranked in the top 25. I think that our team made it clear that if they were gonna play in the fall they wanted these games to matter,” Hill said.

In order to play in this fall matchup, SIU and SEMO had to come to an agreement which Hill said required a few topics to be worked out amongst them. 

Hill said SIU is fortunate to have a non conference opponent so close to them so they could play a game this fall. With SEMO in the Ohio Valley Conference, Hill said “SEMO being 45 minutes away gives us an opportunity to play at home.”

On the current COVID-19 testing protocols, Hill said a lot of things have changed since July.

“The protocols aren’t as strict as if you’re pursuing games. The rule is you would just be doing surveillance testing if you’re just in fall ball,” Hill said. 

Hill said the team is tested once a week.

There is only one other college football game on Oct. 23; Louisiana Lafayette will play University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

Hill said the team and coaches are very excited to finally be able to get on the field and prepare for a game again. 

“I know the excitement they [the players] shared when I told them we would be playing in a month,” Hill said.

Hill said the team had been told that the game might happen but wasn’t allowed to post anything until it was official. 

Currently, the athletics department has not decided how many fans will be allowed in, but will try to get students and season ticket holders into the game. 

“I think we have a great opportunity to show the region and show the community a lot of hard work and we can all rally together for this one night,” Hill said.

Hill said that fans that do attend the game should follow the protocols like wearing a mask when they are at the game. 

“Whatever procedures they put in place for the game just come and be excited that we’re watching football and I think we can all agree that we’re all moving in the right direction,” Hill said.

SIU Athletic Director Liz Jarnigan said that SIU remained hopeful to play the SEMO game even after the game had been postponed. 

“Concerns over COVID and testing and all the uncertainty you know I think really caused them to back out of the game initially, and as we’ve gotten further into the season we’d agreed we would continue to stay in touch and talk about things,” Jarnigan said.

Jarnigan said that she expects playing a game in the fall will have a very small impact on the spring season.

Because SIU was preparing to have a regular season practice schedule, the game will have very little effect on practices. 

Jarnigan said the biggest factor in returning was that non conference games will still count towards playoff selection in the spring. 

“Moving all of the Missouri Valley conference schedules to the spring in addition to the Missouri Valley Football Conferences schedule has taken quite a bit of work to make sure that no institution is too overly taxed,” Jarnigan said.

The MVFC has yet to release a spring schedule. 

“My understanding is we are very close to an announcement on the schedule,” Jarnigan said.

Jarnigan said the expectation would be that games will start in late January or early February with games into March. 

The playoffs have been scheduled by the NCAA for April 18th through May 15th and will include only 16 teams as opposed to the usual 24. 

 

Sports reporter Ryan Scott can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @RyanscottDE. 

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