Bison Prepare to Hold Off Upset
Southern Illinois poses as a dark horse in Missouri Valley
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 15:10
Now coming off a win in its homecoming, No. 1-ranked NDSU will be looking to tarnish another.
The Bison are scheduled to go on the road to Carbondale, Ill., to take on Southern Illinois 2 p.m. Saturday in the Salukis’ homecoming game.
Even though SIU isn’t a ranked opponent, SIU is far from a team to overlook, NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said.
“They’re playing well right now,” Bohl said. “They came up with a big win over Northern Iowa.”
Two weeks ago, the Green and Gold rode the sound waves of the Fargodome to beat top-10 UNI with a 14-point fourth quarter comeback. The Salukis, on the other hand, had to go to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take on the Panthers and won by a touchdown in overtime.
Bohl said the win showed many people what SIU is capable of.
“They’re playing with a great deal of confidence right now,” Bohl said. “They’ve beaten a couple of real good teams. To win the way they did in Cedar Falls was very impressive.”
While the Bison (6-0, 3-0 MVFC) won 41-26 against Missouri State, the Herd had difficulties with MSU’s 3-4 defense—the same style of defense the Salukis run.
Bohl said SIU (4-3, 2-1) runs a slightly different kind of 3-4, with the down lineman having more mobility than MSU’s.
“They put a lot of guys up at the line of scrimmage and play a lot of man-to-man defense,” Bohl said. “That’s been their philosophy for a lot of years.”
While many players were limited to the sidelines or injured during the game, Bohl said most players will be good to go this week.
Starters Carlton Littlejohn and Marcus Williams will both be ready to play against SIU. Williams, who fractured his hand, will need to wear additional protection during the game.
“Marcus will be ready to go,” Bohl said. “He’ll have a little bit of a casting on his hand, but his thigh bruise is fine.”
The Salukis, with dual-threat Kory Faulkner at quarterback, poses problems for the Bison defense, Bohl said.
Faulkner has gone for 1,727 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air and 179 yards and two scores on the ground this season.
“I think he’s a great field general,” Bohl said of Faulkner. “He makes really good decisions, is fairly mobile, takes care of the football and has got a good arm.”
However, the Bison also have a proven leader under center.
Despite lacking a run game from NDSU, which is known for being hard to stop on a consistent basis, Brock Jensen had a career day against MSU with 313 yards through the air and three touchdowns.
Since the Salukis run the same style of defense as MSU—which shutdown the Bison running game and is known for giving the Bison headaches—Bohl said his team may need to rely on the passing game once again.
While it’s not his normal style of play calling, Bohl said Jensen’s production has come at a good time.
“I think we’re throwing the ball better now than we did a couple years ago, and that certainly showed up last week,” Bohl said. “I think that’s certainly going to help us.”