Lowes Line


Southern Illinois Preview and Prediction

By Joel Kanvik

Matchup: University of Southern Illinois Salukis (0-2) vs Northwestern Wildcats (1-1) 
Date: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 11:00 a.m. CDT, Ryan Field 
Line: No official line 


We're two games into the 2022 campaign, and what do we know about this year's Northwestern Wildcats?  Unfortunately, not a lot of great news.  Frankly, this team should be 0-2 at this juncture, if not for Nebraska's snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Dublin with an ill-timed and -conceived on-side kick when up by 11.  NU seized the momentum and Nebraska never scored again.  It could be aksed whether Northwestern should have done the Big Ten a favor by not pulling out that victory, as perhaps Scott Frost might have survived into the Big Ten season had Northwestern had the decency to lose that game.  But, the game, much like Scott Frost's tenure at Nebraska, is history.

So into Ryan Field came Duke, and away they left with a victory.  The offense tried to rally late, but the hole dug by the defense was just too deep.  And Duke wasn't going to be as accommodating as Nebraska and try to get NU back into the game.  And therein lies the problem.  Early in games the defense doesn't appear to be able to stop opposing offenses to keep the 'Cats in the game early.  We end up relying on furious comebacks to win late in the 4th.  And, unfortunately, the Duke loss doesn't have a "Miami of Ohio" feel to it, portending better things to come in the future once Big Ten play begins.

It's a shame that the defense has been so lackluster, as the offense seems to have found a playmaker or two this year.  Ryan Hilinski seems to have found his way to steady play, completing just under two-thirds of his passes.  Importantly, he has been a better steward of the football, throwing only 1 pick against 4 touchdown passes.  That's even more impressive when you consider that NU has been behind in both games, so the opposing defenses knew NU was going to throw the ball. 

Evan Hull has also revealed himself to be a dual threat from the backfield.  He leads the 'Cats in rushing attempts, rushing yards, receptions, and reception yards.  If not for an untimely fumble against Duke with NU deep in Duke territory for the possibly tying touchdown, a fumble that sealed the game late, Hull would be having a great start to his '22 season. 

Embarrassingly, the 'Cats bring FCS Southern Illinois to Ryan Field to try to make the 'Cats feel better about themselves.  Previous commentary predicting future games against New Trier High School remain valid.  The fact that this game has no official line is indication enough that NU needs to stop scheduling these patsies if it wants to be considered a legitimate program.  And sometimes, the "easy win" doesn't always cooperate (see, New Hampshire, University of).  Hopefully, the Salukis will be a little more willing to help the NU squad get healthy and in sync as we reach the quarter point in the season.  But first, an answer to a burning question:

Saluki:  (n) one of a breed of black and tan, white, gold, or tricolor dogs resembling the greyhound and having fringes of long hair on the ears, legs, and thighs, raised originally in Egypt and southwestern Asia.

For you visual learners out there:

Hopefully we won't be chasing this guy around the field.  Wildcats or no, he looks seriously fast.

I'm not going to get into a lot of analysis of the Saluki football team, as this, flat out, is a game Northwestern has to have and has to win going away.  ESPN's FPI gives SIU a mere 4.7% chance of winning this game.  Put another way, Northwestern has a 95.3% chance to win.  So we better win and better look good doing it.  I'm looking at you defense, because how "pretty" this victory is depends largely on you keeping them out of the end zone.  Especially early.  Unlike the Duke game.  If only our head coach knew defense...

Given the lack of an official line, the best suggested line I've heard is NU (-21.5).  Other Big Ten teams in this scenario would be rocking lines in the 30s or 40s, but perhaps we need to give the boys in purple and white (and whatever other colors Under Armour throws in there) a fair chance to cover, and also a reasonable measuring stick to know if last week was an aberration or if our defense truly stinks on toast.

PICK:  NU covers the "spread" with the Salukis only getting "close" with some garbage time scores.  Northwestern 35, SIU 10.  

Season to Date:   SU: 0-2                         ATS:  2-0

Lowes Line is an e-mailed description of NU's next football game, with an invariably fearless prediction of the outcome and how NU will fare against what the other "experts" predict.  Our good friend and Brother Marcus Lowes began the broadcast mailing in 1996.  The crack Lowes Line Staff (alumni Lone Star Cat, GallopingGrapes, P.S. O'Briant, Eric Cockerill, Joel Kanvik, Charlie Simon, and MO'Cats) have continued the Line in memory of Marcus.  For the 2022 season it has returned to HailToPurple.com, for anyone to enjoy.  Thanks to the gridiron brain trust at the Lowes Line!