Last three football games will be stressful

By Tony McDaniel

SIU basketball started the season with something to excite the Saluki faithful, a blowout win.

The 102-63 victory over lowly University of St. Mary was a bright spot for Dawg nation. It was a slight break from the train wreck the Saluki football (5-4, 2-3 in conference) season is threatening to turn into.

The last three games for the Salukis have been in a few words bleak, disappointing, and at times hard to watch. The defense hasn’t been good and the offense simply has not been the same as it was to start the season.

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SIU is in an unfortunate position, which is to win every game or start thinking about offseason plans and hope 2015 turns out better.

Essentially the playoffs begin Saturday at Missouri State for head coach Dale Lennon and the rest of his team.

SIU crushed all of its opponents through the first six games apart from Big Ten opponent Purdue to start the season 5-1. Junior quarterback Mark Iannotti seemed to be the final missing piece to a tremendous offense, and the defense shut down each opponent.

It seemed to be the best team SIU assembled in quite some time.

The Salukis looked so good to start the season, the team was thinking about a potential Missouri Valley Football Conference championship and a high seed in the playoffs.

This was until the Oct. 11 game at North Dakota State. The second SIU took the field at the Fargodome, things turned south.

Since that game, the Salukis have been outscored 105-50 in games against Indiana State, North Dakota State and Youngstown State.

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Suddenly a team that seemed a shoe-in for the Football Championship Subdivision Postseason is on the verge of not even getting in.

The odds couldn’t be stacked anymore against SIU to make the postseason. It may be time to hit the panic button.

Standing between the Salukis and a playoff berth are Missouri State (4-5, 1-4), Northern Iowa (5-4, 3-2) and Illinois State (7-1,4-1).

Not only will they have to play two really good teams and another above average team, it may have to be with out one of its best players.

Senior running back Malcolm Agnew is dealing with an ankle injury and Iannotti is not the clear starter anymore. Iannotti was benched in the first half of the game against Indiana State for sophomore Ryan West. West played well enough to warrant consideration for more playing time.

SIU’s playoff chances couldn’t be slimmer, and there is not much to be really excited about.

A glimmer of hope for the fan base is the team is coming off its bye week and can be rested for the final games.

If the team can win these last three games to become playoff eligible it will be a reason to celebrate. To beat the odds and three tough teams would be something for the Saluki faithful to be very proud of.

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