Pigskin Pimpin: Salukis FTW! Edition

The Southern Illinois University football team had won 127 games from 1994-2008.  None of them were at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

In what is arguably the most bitter rivalry in the Gateway Missouri Valley Football Conference, the University of Northern Iowa had always gotten the better of Southern Illinois when the games were played indoors.  Panthers fans called it "Dome Magic."  Saluki fans called it (expletive deleted) ... among other things.

And as yours truly predicted on Friday, it all came to an end as the Salukis beat the Panthers 27-20 on Saturday at the little dome of horrors.

Consider the following.  Southern has had six head coaches try and fail to beat UNI in its back yard since Rey Dempsey's squad did the trick in 1983 en route to the school's lone national title.  Ten different First Team All-Americans have suited up in the maroon and white.  None of them came home with a road win at Northern Iowa.  Southern has fielded 16 different 1,000-yard running backs.  But none had carried the Egyptian Hunting Dawgs to a road win in the terror dome.

That all became nothing more than a past nightmare as Deji Karim rushed for 125 yards and what turned out to be the game winning touchdown. The 1-yard score on 4th-and-Goal gave SIU a 20-13 lead with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

On the Panthers' ensuing possession, cornerback Brandon Williams took back a pick six to put the game on ice.

And for good measure, former Saluki great Jerry Hairston Jr. scored the winning run for the New York Yankees after leading off the bottom of the 13th with a base hit.  I guess you could pencil in a 10-tackle day for Bart Scott against the Bills and a 100-yard rushing game for Brandon Jacobs against the Saints as a pair of former Dawgs will hit the gridiron later today.

And now, the rest of your Pigskin Pimpin' on a Sunday morning...

A great day for the alma mater was made better by a loss for a school I never even thought of attending.  Notre Dame.  Sure, the Fighting Irish made it close in the end, but the Southern Cal showed it was just a better team.  At least, enough of a better team to beat the Irish by seven points.

I know ND fans thought they'd pick up a win in this one.  Their beloved Fightin' Stereotypes had the home field advantage, an edge at the quarterback position and the motivation to get it done.  However, I'm not sure why this team was so confident.  Sure, it had beaten the University of Washington, a team that had beaten USC a few weeks ago.  But if there's one thing I know about the Trojans is that they don't let an early-season loss put them down.

USC is one of the few teams that seems to get better each as the season goes on.  I guess that's why they always have an argument to be in the national title hunt at the end of the year despite losing to a mediocre Pac-10 squad earlier in the year.

Some Irish fans are shocked with the loss.  Why?  The Trojans had already beaten a quality opponent on the road.  Granted that opponent was the uber-fraudulent Ohio State, but give the Buckeyes credit where it's due -- they never lose at home.

As for Notre Dame, they somehow find a way to lose big games.  Remember when they used to win big games?  Ah, the days of Lou Holtz and Ron Powlus must feel like ages ago for fans of the Fighting Irish.

Yeah, I enjoyed the fact that Ohio State lost to Purdue.  You can't fault the Buckeyes for falling on the road in the Big Ten?  I can.  Terrell Pryor ain't winnin' the Heisman.  Not this year.  Maybe not ever.  He's gone after his junior year -- you heard it here first.  Still, gotta love The Sweatervest.

As for Purdue, well, Purdue is bad.  Plain bad.  Drew Brees isn't running the show.  Neither is Kyle Orton.  Once upon a time, Joe Tiller offenses used to light up the scoreboard.  Now, it's the Boilermaker defense that spends most of the time getting lit up.

At least Purdue has Matt Painter (yet, another Saluki reference in tonight's blog) and basketball season in the not-too-distant future.

The Atlanta Falcons provide the Chicago Bears with their biggest test to date when the team's square off for a nationally televised game on NBC.  Here's hoping Chicago fares better tonight than the last time the team was under the national microscope.

The bad news is that Jay Cutler is one four-INT game away from being the worst quarterback evar! in Chicago Bears history.  That's just how Chicago sports fans are.  One week, you're the savior.  The next week, the only person more maligned than you is Satan.  Those are just the breaks.

However, the good news is that the Bears do have Jay Cutler, and that means if this game gets into a shootout -- like the Falcons' Week 5 match-up against a good 49ers team -- Chicago should be adequately prepared.

Cutler has 10 games under his belt in which he has thrown for at least 300 yards.  He also has a 447-yard throwing performance in his back pocket as well.  In his big games, he owns a 60 percent completion rate and an 18 career touchdowns against 13 interceptions.  Cutler is 5-5 in such games.  In the wins, Cutler owns a 4-1 TD-to-INT ratio (12 TDs, 4 INTs) and his teams have averaged 32.6 points per game with a 41-point game against the Oakland Raiders in Sept. 2008 being the high-water mark.  On the other hand, Cutler's teams have allowed an average of 35.6 points per game in the losses.
For the Stat Boy in all of us:  The Falcons are averaging 25.5 points per game in 2009.  The Bears average 26.2 points per game.  Cutler is 14-1 when his defense allows 20 points or less.

Anyone ready for a shootout in the Georgia Dome tonight?