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Five keys to upsetting an FBS team
With SIU’s annual Football Bowl Subdivision game on tap this weekend at Mississippi, here are five tips on how to beat an upper division opponent.
Good luck charm not included.
* No. 1: Don’t turn the ball over. Last year against Illinois, SIU coughed it up twice and forced three turnovers. However, the Salukis fumbled at the 7-yard line and missed a 38-yard field goal. At Marshall, SIU turned it over three times in a 31-28 loss.
By comparison, North Dakota State only had one turnover in its 6-3 win at Kansas last year, the only win by a Missouri Valley Football Conference team against an FBS opponent.
They already have 22 extra scholarships and the home-field advantage. You want to make it even tougher on yourself?
* No. 2: Don’t be awestruck by the environment. Players can say they only see the field when the ball is snapped, and that they actually get excited by the big atmosphere, but it can engulf some people. Heck, I wasn’t even playing in the game, and I was nervous sitting down in the press box at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards Stadium just because of the history there.
If Mississippi sells out Saturday’s game against SIU, it will be the third-largest crowd ever to see the Salukis play football.
* No. 3: Have good players. Even the worst FBS school will have athletes capable of dominating the football game. It’s no mystery why Nick Hill was the quarterback that led SIU past Indiana in 2006 for the MVFC’s only win against a Big 10 Conference opponent. If you have good players, you can compete. The question is, how long can you compete? Youngstown State was down 14-6 at the half at Michigan State last weekend and ended up losing 28-6.
* No. 4: Keep the football. Unless you can throw it like Stephen F. Austin, your best bet is to follow the New York Giants’ philosophy. Run the football, grind out the clock, and take your chances in the fourth quarter. SIU has a great offensive line and four reliable tailbacks, so it may have a shot to get to the second half while still within striking distance.
* No. 5: Bring the rabbit’s foot, but keep the faith. You’re the underdog. Face it. SIU has had some success against the FBS, but is still 3-23 against upper division opponents since 1982. Even if you do everything right, you might get snake-bit at the end, because if a Football Championship Subdivision team loses to an FBS team, it’s kind of expected. If an FBS team loses to an FCS team, people get fired.
However, it can be done. The Salukis beat Indiana and Northern Illinois in back-to-back seasons, and the feat has already been orchestrated twice this year. Richmond beat Duke, 23-21, and Sacramento State finished a two-point conversion in overtime to beat Oregon State, 29-28.
By TODD HEFFERMAN, The Southern Illinoisan