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10-10-2008, 01:47 PM

Two a big number in MVFC race
By Todd Hefferman, The Southern
Thursday, October 9, 2008 10:33 PM CDT
CARBONDALE - Only one of Southern Illinois University's two football losses this season came in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, but with six league games left, the Salukis have already hit the wall.

No. 15/16 SIU (2-2 overall, 1-1 MVFC) let a 20-0 lead slip away at No. 6/11 North Dakota State last weekend in a 35-27 defeat. Since the MVFC champion has never had three losses in a season, the Salukis know they probably can't afford even one slip-up the rest of the way if they hope to be in the race for the league title.

In fact, in 23 seasons, the MVFC champ has only had two league losses once. Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois and Youngstown State all shared the 2005 title with 5-2 records. That season, SIU lost to UNI 25-24, but beat YSU and UNI beat both SIU and YSU.

"Now we just got a win-win situation," SIU linebacker Brandin Jordan said. "We just can't look at losing as an option from here on out."

The Salukis host winless Indiana State (0-5, 0-1) at 1:37 p.m. Saturday to cap homecoming festivities. The Sycamores have lost a Football Championship Subdivision-high 19 straight games and 43 of their last 44 games.

SIU is tied with four other teams for third place in the league at 1-1 (Western Illinois, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa and Youngstown State). Illinois State (2-2, 1-0), which beat the Sycamores 57-6 last weekend, leads the league. South Dakota State (3-3, 2-1) is in second and doesn't return to league play until Oct. 25 at Indiana State.

Jackrabbits coach John Stiegelmeier said with NDSU and his team in the race now, the conference champ could very well have two losses this season. Earlier this week, five MVFC teams were ranked in both polls. NDSU and UNI were in the top 10 in the FCS coaches list and were Nos. 10 and 11 in The Sports Network rankings.

"If you have just one loss (now) then you truly are blessed," Stiegelmeier said. "Based on the competition and what's been shown, it might be a two- or three-way tie at the end with two losses.".............