Our Word: The season isn’t over yet, Saluki fans

By Gus Bode

SIU’s football team suffered its first loss Saturday, succumbing by a 37-10 score to Illinois State in front of a raucous homecoming crowd in Bloomington.

As it tends to be in sports and in life, this kind of bad news comes with multiple folds. The loss is bad enough, but with the loss comes the requisite drop in the polls. The Salukis came into the game ranked No. 7 in I-AA; expect that number to be somewhere closer to the teens in the upcoming poll.

Now at 2-1 in the Gateway conference, the Salukis have fell to a third place tie in the standings behind undefeated ISU, Northern Iowa and Youngstown State, which leads the Gateway with a 3-0 record.


All this can be disheartening to a maroon-hating, Luke-Drone-cursing Saluki fan. But to the fans: you should know that this is far from the end. So if anyone tries to get in your ear talking about “here we go again,” or “what backwoods college is going to eliminate us from the playoffs this year,” just brush them off and hit them with one of these facts, or something else, which show that the Salukis are still very much in control.

�SIU controls its own destiny. With three more games against the only teams left with winning records in the conference, only one of them has a chance to be undefeated when they play SIU. After this weekend’s clash versus 2-1 Western Kentucky, and a visit to 1-6 Missouri State, the Salukis go against Youngstown State and UNI in consecutive weeks. Those two teams go at it this weekend, and one will no longer be without a loss in the conference.

�The Redbirds have more than cupcakes on their menu: Illinois State’s schedule features three winnable games (Western Illinois, Missouri State and Indiana State), but two of them are on the road, and the Redbirds will also face Youngstown State and Northern Iowa, ending the season in Cedar Falls.

�The Salukis know what they are capable of. There has been no better win in the Gateway this season than SIU’s Big Ten victory at Indiana, which looks even better after the Hoosiers shocked No. 15 Iowa this weekend. Those type of wins are usually precursors to something special.

Plus, the Salukis have looked hungry all season, like they have something to prove. There was little complacency in star running back Arkee Whitlock’s post-game comments Saturday. The Walter Payton award challenger gained 144 yards against Illinois State.

“Yards don’t mean anything for me,” Whitlock said. “I’m determined to win football games.”

Many coaches believe that successful teams need the occasional loss to re-focus them to do greater things, and maybe this weekend’s loss will do that to the Salukis.


We’ll never know unless we pay attention, so keep going out to McAndrew. Show the Salukis that you still believe, and show the Hilltoppers that they have no chance because this weekend’s home game will say a lot about how far this team will go.