(19) Eastern Illinois (8-3) at (1) Southern Illinois (10-1)
The Sports Network
By Brett Kahn, FCS Assistant Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 28th, 2 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: McAndrew Stadium (17,324) -- Carbondale, Illinois. Surface: AstroPlay turf. Television: None. Home Record: Eastern Illinoix 3-2; Southern Illinois 5-0. Away Record: Eastern Illinois 5-1; Southern Illinois 5- 1. Series Record: Southern Illinois (38-25-1). Last Meeting: November 24, 2007 (Southern Illinois, 30-11 at SIU - FCS Playoffs). Series Streak: Southern Illinois has won the last two meetings. Conference: Eastern Illinois - Ohio Valley; Southern Illinois - Missouri Valley. Sports Network Ranking: Eastern Illinois (19); Southern Illinois (1). Playoff Record: Eastern Illinois (3-12); Southern Illinois (7-6). Nicknames: Eastern Illinois Panthers; Southern Illinois Salukis. Coaches: Eastern Illinois - Bob Spoo (140-112-1, 65-31 at Eastern Illinois); Southern Illinois - Dale Lennon (19-4).
GAME NOTES: Two in-state schools will meet for the 65th time overall and the third time in the postseason since 2005 as Eastern Illinois takes on Southern Illinois in the first round of the 2009 FCS playoffs.
EIU and SIU last met in 2007 in the first round on the playoffs, with the Salukis advancing at home, 30-11. Southern Illinois would go on to lose in the semifinals against Delaware.
They also met in the 2005 playoffs at Eastern Illinois, with SIU winning its first playoff game in 22 years, 21-6, before losing to eventual national champion Appalachian State.
No. 3 seeded Southern Illinois earned its seventh straight playoff appearance, winning the MVFC title and earning the auto bid for the first time since 2004. The Salukis closed out the regular season with a 42-24 win over Southeast Missouri State.
Payton Award nominee Deji Karim (1,512 yards rushing, 16 TDs) leads SIU's offense at running back and compiled 155 yards and two scores against SEMO. The senior ranks second nationally in rushing and third in all-purpose yards (2,068 yards). His 2009 rushing total ranks fourth in school history.
Freshman quarterback Paul McIntosh (1,160 yards of total offense, 10 TDs) has stepped in nicely for Chris Dieker, who is out until at least the semifinals with a broken left clavicle. McIntosh threw for a career-high 181 yards against SEMO.
Wide receivers Joe Allaria (48 catches, 13.8 average, three TDs) and Bryce Morris (11.8 average, two TDs) lead the Salukis' receiving corps and combined for eight catches and a touchdown against the Redhawks.
Defensively, Southern Illinois ranks 11th nationally in both scoring defense and sacks. The unit has held opponents to 16 points per game, but has surrendered 48 points in the past two games.
Standouts on SIU's defense are Buchanan Award nominee Brandin Jordan (70 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries) at linebacker and Kyle Walker (35 tackles, seven sacks) at linebacker and All-American cornerback Korey Lindsey (54 tackles, six interceptions).
Eastern Illinois earned the Ohio Valley Conference crown and league auto bid for the third time in four years.
The Panthers clinched the accolades with 21-10 loss to Tennessee State, as Eastern Kentucky also lost to hand the Panthers the title and the bid.
Quarterback Jake Christensen (2,191 yards passing, 19 TDs) leads Eastern Illinois' offense that ranks 47th nationally in scoring offense. The senior transfer from Iowa struggled against Tennessee State throwing three interceptions, but threw for a career-high 322 yards and four scores the week before against Tennessee-Martin.
Christensen's top targets at wide receiver are Charles Graves (24 catches, 13.9 average, three TDs), freshman Kenny Whittaker (27 catches, 12.2 average, two TDs) and Lorence Ricks (19 catches, 20.1 average, three TDs).
Running back Mon Williams (763 yards rushing, nine TDs) leads the Panthers' rushing attack. However Williams has compiled just two games with 100 yards rushing for EIU's 74th-ranked unit.
The Panthers have been solid defensively, ranking 21st nationally in scoring defense and 23rd in total defense. The unit features cornerback CJ James (51 tackles, four interceptions), defensive end Perry Burge (6.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries), defensive tackle Trevor Frericks (39 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss) and linebacker Nick Nasti (69 tackles).
Eastern Illinois really struggled down the stretch, while Southern Illinois could be the hottest team heading into the post-season with its balanced offensive attack.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Illinois 28, Eastern Illinois 16.
11/27 13:33:21 ET