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,
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
PICK: NU covers the "spread" with the Salukis
only getting "close" with some garbage time scores. Northwestern
35, SIU 10.
Season to Date: SU:
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football game, with an invariably fearless prediction of the outcome
how NU will fare against what the other "experts" predict. Our
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The crack Lowes Line Staff (alumni Lone Star Cat,
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the 2022 season it has returned to HailToPurple.com,
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