In the war room with Warfel: Is SIU playoff bound?

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

For fans who listened to the radio broadcast of the SIU football game on Oct. 26, Mike Reis said something that brings joy to Saluki fans alike.

After their 48-28 win over South Dakota on Saturday, Reis said the Salukis will be playing meaningful games in November after the win pushed their record to 4-4. 

For fans of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, you might remember last season when Indiana State rattled off five wins to end their season, which left Sycamore fans hoping for a playoff berth.

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If the Salukis win their next three games against Indiana State, Missouri State and Western Illinois, they would head into the last matchup of the year with a 7-4 record.

Not to get Saluki fans excited, but if SIU can capture the same mojo that the Sycamores captured last season when they won five straight, Southern might see the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

If the Dawgs finish the season 7-5 or even 8-4, if they beat North Dakota State, they could see themselves in a position Saluki fans have been craving for a decade. 

Last year in the 2018 playoffs, there were four teams with four losses that were included in the FCS playoffs.

The argument can be made that with an 7-5 record the Salukis should make the playoffs based off of the strength of their schedule alone.

SIU has played four opponents ranked in the top 25 in the FCS this season. In those matchups, they are 1-3.

In two of those three losses, however, the Saluki defense held South Dakota State and Illinois State to 28 and 21 points respectively.

While those both were losses, they were not what I would define as an ‘ugly’ loss, especially when considering the quality of the opponents that SIU played.

Tack on the fact that the Salukis have a victory over an FBS team in UMASS, and this strengthens the idea that a 7-5 record could be considerable for the playoffs.

If the Saluki defense can continue to play at the level they have played at since conference play started, and the offense can continue to churn out rushing yards, this team could bring excitement back to the football program.

Since conference play opened, the Southern defense has given up 1,397 total yards, in comparison to last year through four games the defense had given up 1,672 yards.

Since the 35-10 win over Youngstown State on homecoming weekend, the Saluki offense has fired on all cylinders putting up a total of 915 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Freshman running back Javon Williams Jr. has been the catalyst for the SIU offense this season leading the team with 13 touchdowns.

Senior running back D.J. Davis is a threat, but the Williams and Davis, together in the back field, are a dynamic duo.

The two have combined for a total of 365 rushing yards in Southern’s two conference wins.

In those two wins, the rushing attack of SIU has put up 523 yards, so the two have equated for nearly 70% of SIU’s rushing attack.

On the defensive side, senior safety Jeremy Chinn has been on a tear since returning from injury accounting for 13 solo tackles and two interceptions.

Regardless of how the rest of the Salukis season pans out, this team is fun to watch right now. Hopefully in three more weeks, we will be seeing an SIU team that might be ranked in the top 25.

But for right now, the Salukis need to turn to Terre Haute in hopes of chopping down the trees and maintaining momentum.

Sports Editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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