33 on the line: can Herd bring it home at SIU?
Here we are at the last regular season game and still no blemish. As I said back in August, I didn’t think there would be a game where we were the underdog and we aren’t when we go down to face the Salukis.
SIU wins the most improved team in the MVFC this year. A year ago they were scrapping the bottom of the barrel, finishing at 2-9. Now they are 7-4, including a weak FBS win over U Mass. They are on a current five game win streak and a fairly solid bubble pick, even if they lose to the Bison, for a playoff bid.
They started poorly this year going 2-4. In the third game of the year, they lost their starting QB to injury, but junior K Lyles has filled in admirably. He isn’t a running threat, but has completed 63% of his passes. He has two good receivers in Landon Lanoir and Avante Cox. They also have a 6’8” TE who is a pro-prospect.
The Salukis are a solid running team at 237.1 YPG, which ranks them 10th in the FCS. It is a two headed beast. Sr. D J Davis whose style is a lot like Ty Brooks. If you give him a crease he can break it. He is complemented by Fr. Javon Williams, a veritable load at 6’ 1” 239 lbs. Most of his production comes from the wildcat formation with a direct snap back to him. That does limit the passing game from this formation. They have scored 30.2 PPG (45th in FCS) and generated 431.5 YPG in TO (27th FCS). They aren’t as explosive as USD.
The biggest change for SIU is that they are playing good defense for a change. Last year they gave up over 40 PPG (114th FCS), 483.4 YPG (114th) and 221.3 YPG in rushing (104th). That folks is bad defense. This year they have cut these figures to 23.2 PPG (34th in FCS), 351.2 YPG TO (29th) and 145.6 YPG rushing defense (49th). They also have 37 sacks (3 more the Code Green). This is good defense and is why they are on a five game winning streak. This makes them a team you shouldn’t look past to the playoffs. This could be that type of trap game in that they can’t be overlooked.
SDSU, UNI and IL State all play much better defense than the Salukis, so I am not an alarmist here. Two of these games were on the road for us. We averaged 324 YPG rushing in these three victories. We just need to play like the Bison on Saturday to win.
Sagarin has the Herd as a 19.4 to 22.3 point favorite and a 88% chance of winning. Eigen has the Bison at 20.8 points and an 89% win chance. Massey’s score prediction is 38-14. Weather has morning showers, 10 mph wind and low 40’s. Game time is 2 PM, so maybe showers clear out. Massey might be right on with both teams consuming time via the run game. Go Bison; put another unbeaten regular season in the books.