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Date Posted: 20:43:29 10/17/03 Fri
Author: Leatherhead
Subject: Re: two must read articles
In reply to: fourbags 's message, "two must read articles" on 12:16:00 10/17/03 Fri

Yes, they were very interesting.

Here's Tony Moss's preview of the game:

No. 7 Southern Illinois (6-0) at No. 2 Western Illinois (5-1), 2:05

What was that about overrated? Southern Illinois did its best to silence the skeptical I-AA pundits last week, hammering Illinois State, 45-17, on homecoming in Carbondale. The Salukis clinched their first .500 season since 1991, and started 6-0 for the first time since the national championship season of 1983. If SIU can go into Macomb this week and take down Western Illinois, whatever trace of remaining doubt some might harbor about the team’s talents will be erased.

Southern Illinois’ systematic pounding of ISU last week came despite the continued absence of running back Muhammad Abdulqaadir, who was limited to two carries due to a bruised knee. That’s less of a problem when your backup is Tom Koutsos, who bolted for 153 yards and three touchdowns and seized the Gateway Football Conference’s all-time rushing crown in the process. Sophomore quarterback Joel Sambursky had an off day, completing just nine of 21 passes, but still ranks ninth in I-AA pass efficiency (152.34). A huge factor for SIU this season has peen the consistently strong play of the defense, which is giving up fewer than 10 points per game and has forced 17 turnovers. Linebacker Royal Whitaker (40 tackles, 3 INT) has been among the stalwarts there.

As surprising as Southern Illinois’ blowout of Illinois State was, far more Gateway fans were taken aback by Western Illinois’ 54-20 manhandling of Youngstown State on the road. No one had scored more than 50 on YSU at the Ice Castle since James Madison did it in 1992, but WIU jumped ahead by a 27-0 count early and was scarcely challenged thereafter. Running back Travis Glasford (198 yards, 5 TD) gutted the Youngstown run defense, and quarterback Russ Michna’s (11-18 passing, 156 yards, 1 TD) receiver of choice was Reggie Gray (7 receptions, 116 yards, 1 TD). Defensively, the Leathernecks forced five fumbles, including two recovered by Buck Buchanan Award candidate and linebacker Lee Russell.

SIU shocked WIU, 54-52, last season, with a last second pass from Sambursky to Brandon Robinson providing the winning margin. Abdulqaadir went for 261 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s game, so slowing the Saluki rushing attack figures to be job number one for Don Patterson’s team this time around. Another priority will be getting the Hanson Field crowd involved, especially since Southern hasn’t won in Macomb since that magic season of 1983. Though you can expect SIU to continue play a role in the Gateway race, I’m going with recent history in picking Western Illinois. The Leathernecks have simply looked too good thus far to expect a loss, and they’ll be hungry for revenge after last year’s heartbreaker. WIU by more than 10.

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