Illinois State University (3-2, 0-1) is coming off a disappointing 37-3 loss to North Dakota State last week in which the No. 13 Redbirds struggled to get anything going on either side of the ball. Will the Birds get back on track Saturday at Southern Illinois (2-3, 0-1)? Here are five things you need to know ahead of the matchup: 

Rivalry

The Salukis hold a slight 41-37-3 advantage in the all-time series between the two schools, dating back to 1929. This will be the 82nd meeting between the two clubs, which includes four victories for ISU in the last five contests. Last season, the Birds walloped the Salukis 51-3 behind 541 total yards of offense. The Birds amassed 409 rushing yards, including 202 yards from James Robinson and 143 yards from Markel Smith. 

Ranked opponents

SIU has struggled mightily against ranked opponents, as it has lost its last seven contests against ranked opponents. The last time the Salukis won against a ranked opponent was on Oct. 14, 2017 where they defeated the No. 15 ranked Redbirds 42-7. This season, SIU has lost two contests against ranked opponents, with the most recent fallback coming last week against No. 3 South Dakota State, 28-10. 

Sack attack

So far this season, both teams are among the nation's leaders in team sacks and team tackles for a loss. The Redbirds are currently ranked first in the nation with 21.0 sacks on the season, while SIU has garnered 16.0 team sacks, good for 10th in the FCS.ISU also currently leads the FCS in sack yardage (127).Senior defensive end Romeo McKnight is tied for eighth in the FCS in sack per game, averaging 1.0. 

Injury plague

Both teams have faced some unfortunate and key injuries this season, as the Redbirds are without sophomore wide receiver Taylor Grimes (knee) and senior offensive lineman Gabe Megginson (back) for the rest of the season. Sophomore receiver Andrew Edgar, the leading returning receiver for ISU, will be out for significant time with a shoulder injury. On the opposite side, SIU lost sophomore starting quarterback Stone Labanowitz (right shoulder) to injury early in the season and will likely be without him for another couple of weeks. Starting running back DJ Davis (dislocated elbow) has also missed time for the Salukis, and will likely be out against the Redbirds. 

How to follow

The game, which begins 6p.m. Saturday in Carbondale, will be available to watch live on ESPN3. Fans can also listen live on WJBC AM 1230/93.7 FM or follow along online at goredbirds.com. Sports Editors Blaine Lewallen and Jake Sermersheim will be live tweeting the game from @Vidette_Sports on Twitter. Live tweets can also be found on ISU football’s Twitter page, @RedbirdFB, throughout the game. 

BLAINE LEWALLEN is the Sports Editor for The Vidette. He can be contacted at bmlewal@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @blainelew3 


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