Southern Illinois > Northern Iowa: Book It!

Road sign for Florida panther crossing

Deji Karim is good.  Everyone knows that by now.  And quarterback Chris Dieker threw for 274 yards last week in a game fans and coaches have been waiting for him to have for a long time.  Chauncey Mixon returns for the Saluki defense after leaving Week 1's loss with a busted jaw.

I could bore you with numbers and drown you with plenty of logical reasons why the No. 5 Salukis of Southern Illinois Universiy will finally end their drought inside the UNI Dome on Saturday against Northern Iowa.

I won't.

Instead, I'll tell you a story about a feeling.  It's a good feeling.  Almost like the kind of feeling you get after a sip of Dirty 30 juice ... without the remorse of a hangover or having to take a walk of shame.

I felt this feeling in 2006.  The story as I remember it is that myself and a few college buddies were planning to make the trip to Bloomington, Ind., the morning of the game.  SIU had never beaten a Big Ten team, in fact, it had been a mighty long time since they had beaten a Division I-A (or Football Bowl Subdivision) team.  After narrow defeats against Northern Illinois and Western Michigan, I figured that it was time to get it done and there was no better time to do so than against the Hoosiers -- who agreed to host SIU in a package deal that landed the Salukis basketball team a home-and-home series with IU.

Unfortunately, at the last minute, the plans fell through.  And we watched the game from a friend's couch as I made cheeseburgers on the stove top.

Then there was 2007, when I had a real good feeling about beating Northern Illinois.  SIU lost by one point to their Northern rivals and figured without Michael "The Burner" Turner, the Salukis had more than just a slight chance to win.  Again, last-minute plans fell through and I ended up watching the game at a bar.  Early in the game, it would have been easy to dismiss the missed trip as the Salukis found themselves down early and I had started to receive phone calls from friends that were at the game.

But one of the greatest comebacks in school history began to form, and ended with a Nick Hill game-winning touchdown pass.  The night ended with me calling friends at Northern Illinois and leaving voicemails that said, "You want to know what a Saluki is?  Well, it just kicked your ass!"

Now, I have those same feelings about this game at Northern Iowa.  The SIU football team would be breaking a streak of 12 straight games in which the home team has won if the Road Dawgs were able to knock of the Panthers.  And if they did so, it would be the first time turning the trick since 1983 -- the year that Southern won it's lone national championship.

And of course, I predicted a national title for the Salukis this year -- only one year after being the only "expert" on a panel of Daily Egyptian sports writers to pick SIU to win the conference championship.

Ready for the kicker?  I had two peeps bail on me for this year's road trip.  Not to mention a heads up report about crappy construction road work.

So, let's get this straight...
  • Potential road trip to difficult match up
  • Looking to break lengthy losing streak
  • Last minute cancellations

Yep.  Sounds like a Saluki win to me.

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