Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Vinson Davis III (11) runs the ball down the field towards the end zone which resulted in the second touchdown for SIU against the Bears of Missouri State Sept. 30, 2023 at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Illinois.
Start fast, finish strong; SIU football pounds Missouri State 33-20 to mark best start since 2007
By Joey Bernard, Graduate Assistant • September 30, 2023

Through four games, the No. 10 Saluki football team (4-0, 1-0 MVC) remains perfect following Saturday’s 33-20 beatdown on the Missouri State...

Jacqueline Crain is hit with a cloud of color after she crosses the finish line first at the third annual Color Fun Run hosted by the School of Health Sciences Sept. 29, 2023 at the Campus Lake in Carbondale, Illinois.
School of Health Sciences hosts third annual "Color Fun Run"
September 30, 2023

The School of Health and Human Sciences hosted it's third annual "Color Fun Run" on Friday. Participants ran or walked a 2.2 mile course around...

Tim Kratochvil accepts his Saluki Hall of Fame enshrinement on Oct. 18, 2019 in Carbondale, Illinois.
Remembering "Mr. Incredible" Tim Kratochvil, Saluki Hall of Famer and Pawnee schools superintendent
By Ryan Grieser, Staff Reporter • September 28, 2023

Tim Kratochvil was, above all else, a Saluki. The Saluki Hall of Famer and longtime public schools administrator in Pawnee, Illinois, passed...

Bring back the Wheel! Salukis aim for revenge in rivalry game against SEMO

Lylee Gibbs
The Salukis take the field for the first game of the season as they face Austin Peay at home Sept. 2, 2023 at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

It was a tough pill to swallow last season when the Southeast Missouri State (SEMO) Redhawks stole a win and “The Wheel” at Saluki Stadium via a last-second touchdown. It left Saluki players, coaches and fans disappointed to lose grip of the coveted wheel in the final moments of the matchup.

“Just to come down to the end and lose like that, it was pretty heartbreaking,” SIU defensive tackle Kam Bowdry said. “…And losing that wheel is always something we don’t like.”

Wide receiver D’Ante’ Cox shared Bowdry’s sentiments about losing a game that means so much by such a close score (34-31).


“The emotions were obviously down, just because we lost the rival game plus The Wheel,” Cox said.

The storied rivalry between SIU and SEMO goes back over a century, with the schools facing off 90 times on the gridiron. So far, it has swung in favor of the Redhawks who hold a 43-39-8 advantage over the Dawgs. That is something that Southern will look to swing back to its side in this year’s game.

“I know it’s very important for the school and it didn’t go our way last year, but we want to get it back,” center Jacob Caughall said.

After transferring to SIU before the last season, Caughall’s introduction to the rivalry was the 2022 home opener for SIU which was, in fact, the War for the Wheel game. With only 50 miles separating the schools, he recognized the significance of the game. It provided a unique experience for him as a player.

“That one hurts a little extra because they’re right up the road,” Caughall said. “…Probably one of the best [atmospheres] I’ve played in in my whole career.

The close proximity causes an increased competitive environment that the players could feel throughout the game.

“The atmosphere is one of the best you’ll play in, everything that goes into it, it’s right around the corner, 45 minutes away,” Cox said.


Although it wasn’t the highest attended game at Saluki Stadium, with 8,662 people in the stands, the crowd sounded as if it was a full house to the players.

“I think the loudest game probably at home last year. It was so crazy man, I love the fans, I love the atmosphere,” Bowdry said.

The actual wheel, which sits on the sidelines during the game and will go with the winner, was introduced in the 2018 matchup between SEMO and SIU. It is a ship’s wheel to remind players of the time when teams traveled on the Mississippi River to play each other when the series began in 1913.

The rivalry is now titled as the ‘War for the Wheel’, with the physical wheel acting as extra incentive for the players to give it their all. SIU claimed the Wheel in 2020 and didn’t relinquish it until last year’s loss on their home turf, but the Saluki’s sights are bringing the Wheel back to Carbondale.

“Having the Wheel on your side… is obviously something you look forward to and always want to walk past and see in your facility,” Cox said.

With only 11 games guaranteed on the football slate, every second on the game clock is valuable; but this specific game means extra to everyone involved.

“It’s something special that you can take home and have some pride for a year,” Caughall said. “We’re all competitive out here. We’re all football players. We just want to go out and win, and that just adds a little something to it.

After SEMO dominated the early portion of the rivalry, SIU has rallied to win 21 of the last 31 games between the schools. The trend so far, since the tangible wheel’s incorporation, has been one side wins two years in a row before the other side claims it. After last season’s loss, SIU will look to revert this course after getting a taste of it in their hands in 2020 and 2021.

“It’s great walking in that room every day and seeing that wheel right there when you win. It just brings life every day you get to walk in,” Bowdry said. “You might be feeling down or something, but you get to see that wheel, all the hard work you put in during the week, that’s what you get at the end. It keeps us going…”

In order to bring the Wheel back to Carbondale, the Salukis will have to get the job done on the road at Houck Stadium on Sept. 16 at 6 p.m., where it is sure to be a high-octane matchup.

“Lot of people go to it, lot of people look forward to it, so looking forward to a good game between good teams,” Cox said.


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