North Dakota State hosts Southern Illinois in a game with a possible playoff birth at stake.
NDSU got bullied by SDSU as the Jacks handed the Bison their 3rd loss of the season and now NDSU is fighting for their playoff lives as they must win one of their last two games to make the playoffs and that is no guarantee as the 13th ranked Bison host the 15th ranked Salukis of Southern Illinois. Nick Hill's team started off the season 4-0 and rose to as high as #5 in the rankings before a soul-crushing loss to Youngstown State started a run of inconsistent play that leaves the Salukis at 6-3 on the season and badly needing a win to cement themselves as a playoff team.
The Salukis offense is under the command of quarterback Nic Baker who is believed by some to be the best quarterback in the MVFC. He leads an offense that averages 26 points a game which is good for 60th in FCS. Baker has passed for nearly 2,000 yards this season and thrown for 12 touchdowns to only 5 picks. Baker's two targets are #11 Vinson Davis lll, who leads the team in yards, and #5 Izaiah Hartup, who leads the team in touchdowns. The Salukis also rush the ball well as their leading ground gainer, #1 Ro Elliott, has rushed for 327 yards and five touchdowns this season in only five games played this season.
Where SIU shines is on defense as they allow only 16 points a game which is 5th in FCS. They are led by safety PJ Jules who has 81 tackles, 10 for loss, and a sack on the season. Where the Salukis are excellent is in their pass rush as they have two players with 3+ sacks in #97 Tim Varga and #2 Devin Cowan.
For NDSU to win they must be successful running the football and getting Nic Baker off the field on 3rd down to get Cam Miller and the offense a chance to improve on last week's lackluster performance.
Kickoff between the Bison and Salukis is set for 2:30 p.m from the Fargodome.