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UND football Week 4 primer: How to watch, injuries and matchups with Southern Illinois

The Fighting Hawks take on the Salukis in Carbondale at 2 p.m. Saturday. SIU enters off a win over Northwestern.

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Southern Illinois receiver Izaiah Hartup lunches for the goal line as he scores on a 58-yard scoring pass Saturday as UND's Hayden Galvin defends. Southern Illinois held off UND 31-28. Photo/Southern Illinois Athletics
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CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois started the 2022 season 0-2.

The Salukis gave up 451 passing yards and 64 points in the opener at Incarnate Word. SIU then came home and gave up 332 passing yards and 34 points at home to Southeast Missouri.

It was a head-scratching start for SIU, which returned veteran skill players from a program that has reached the round of 16 in the FCS playoffs two years in a row.

Last weekend, though, Southern Illinois flipped the struggling narrative. The Salukis knocked off Northwestern 31-24, beating a Big Ten program for the first time since 2006 when quarterback Nick Hill (now SIU head coach) threw four touchdowns to beat Indiana.

Which version of the 2022 Salukis will No. 19 UND see on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Saluki Stadium?

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"They're coming off a huge win," said UND coach Bubba Schweigert, a former SIU assistant coach. "They were forcing turnovers and making big plays. That's an impressive win."

The Hawks are looking to win two games on the road in a season for the first time since 2018. UND won at Sam Houston State, Northern Colorado and Sacramento State for three-straight road wins early in the 2018 season.

Nic Baker leads the SIU offense with 664 passing yards, going 62-for-102 this year with five touchdowns. Baker threw for 177 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in SIU's 31-28 win over UND in Carbondale last season.

SIU's top pass catcher is Avante Cox, who has 14 grabs for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

Ro Elliott is the leading rusher with 172 yards on 31 attempts.

"Their playmakers are a challenge," Schweigert said. "It starts with the quarterback. He hurt Northwestern with his feet but he has a good, strong arm with a lot of weapons. They'll come in with a wildcat quarterback (Javon Williams Jr.), and he'll throw it, too."

A year ago, UND went to Carbondale and had 111 more yards total offense than the Salukis but lost after missing two fourth-quarter field goals.

In that game, UND starting running back Otis Weah was a surprise scratch from the lineup. The Hawks kept Weah back in Grand Forks with an illness.

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In his place, Isaiah Smith had his breakout performance. Smith rushed 17 times for 111 yards and a touchdown. Schuster was 31-for-48 for 267 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was fifth-year senior Jacob Richter, who had six catchesfor 82 yards.

UND linebacker Devon Krzanowski, a transfer from St. Cloud State after the Huskies shuttered their program, has scored a defensive touchdown in both of his career games against the Salukis.

No. 19 UND at No. 24 Southern Illinois

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Where: Saluki Stadium (15,000 capacity)

TV: Midco Sports 2 (GF Channel 322), Brian Shawn play-by-play, Stone Labanowitz analyst.

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Radio: 96.1 FM (Jack Michaels on play-by-play, Tom Dosch analyst, Paul Ralston sidelines)

Streaming: ESPN-Plus

Injuries: The Fighting Hawks remain relatively healthy through three weeks. UND could see wide receiver Elijah Klein make his first impact this season offensively. Running back Luke Skokna remains sidelined, as do backup blocking tight ends Trae Steckler and Jack Ihry.

The Fighting Hawks need to limit the big plays of Southern Illinois, a team with veteran players at the skill positions. UND has had success the last two years in getting to quarterback Nic Baker, who has been sacked eight times by UND in the last two meetings. Baker has been under pressure for the Salukis again this season, but he's dangerous when he can extend plays and get the ball to SIU's elite playmakers. Perhaps the best way to slow SIU's offense is to control the ball offensively. Both teams are averaging around 350 yards of total offense per game, with the Salukis giving up 332 passing yards per game, which means there should be plays to be had for UND quarterback Tommy Schuster who is coming off the best back-to-back performances in his career.

The Salukis need to take advantage of an unsettled secondary for the Fighting Hawks, who are still searching for consistency on the back end. UND has tried quite a few players opposite C.J. Siegel at cornerback and the Hawks are still waiting for someone to click there. At safety, after the loss of starter Sammy Fort, UND is trying to figure out the personnel at safety. The Hawks are replacing two three-year starters at safety in Jordan Canady and Hayden Galvin.

Related Topics: UND FOOTBALLUND SPORTS
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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