CARBONDALE, Ill. -- It's mid-October, but the UND football team is already talking about a playoff-like matchup.

The No. 22 Fighting Hawks will travel to Saluki Stadium for the first time since 2008 to play No. 4 Southern Illinois on Saturday at 2 p.m. with a bit of desperation in their motivation.

The Hawks are looking to avoid their first 0-3 league start since 2010 when the Fighting Sioux went 0-4 in the Great West Conference. Before that, UND hadn't started 0-3 in league play since 1986 when the Sioux were 2-7 in the North Central Conference.

The Salukis are coming off a thrilling win over then-No. 2 South Dakota State in Brookings. Where the Salukis may be trying to recreate that magic this week, UND is trying to look entirely different than the undisciplined, sloppy version of itself the Hawks showcased in Vermillion last week.

SIU coach Nick Hill was asked this week about the program's highest ranking since 2010.

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"If you sign up to be a head coach and take over a program, none of your goals or standards is to have some moments," said Hill, a former SIU player. "It's to have a sustained championship program. It's to have a lot of those games and to win championships, and we have not done that yet."

In order to make the FCS playoffs, UND can likely only afford one more loss and the Hawks know they still need to travel to tough road games at Missouri State and South Dakota State.

If UND fans were hoping to catch the Salukis feeling over-confident, one angle working against that dream is a revenge factor coming off UND's 44-21 dominant win over Southern Illinois in Grand Forks last spring.

In that win, UND held the Salukis to 90 yards rushing. They're the only unit to hold SIU under 100 yards in the last 28 games. The defense also scored a touchdown and forced five turnovers.

"They're a different team, and we're a different team," UND linebacker Devon Krzanowski said. "We'll probably look back at the game and see what we did that was successful. We'll look at things that might've changed and how we can combat that, but it's a must-win game. We have to come in with high-energy, high-focus and be ready to execute."

The Salukis entered that spring matchup with a challenging practice schedule. SIU wasn't able to practice like it would like due to the cold weather in the strange spring timeline.

"We've got to be prepared for a really hungry Southern Illinois team because I'm sure they felt like they didn't play as well as they could have when they came up here," UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said.

The game will mark Schweigert's first trip back to Carbondale as head coach after serving as Saluki defensive coordinator for former UND head coach Dale Lennon from 2008-13.

"We ask our players to eliminate distractions and all that, so it's got to be a business trip," Schweigert said. "I'm sure I'll have some thoughts going through my mind and had a wonderful six years down there and a lot of good times and met a lot of good people, so that takes care of itself. We'll be focused on the game, and I think I can do a good job ... as you get up in age you can focus a little bit better and not worry about all the stuff that happened in the past."

No. 22 North Dakota at No. 4 Southern Illinois

Kickoff: 2 p.m., Saturday.

Where: Saluki Stadium, Carbondale, Ill.

TV: None.

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

Streaming: ESPN-Plus.

Betting line: Southern Illinois -11.

Injuries: The injuries are piling up for UND. The most notable players with fresh injuries likely to sit out against Southern Illinois include wide receiver Garett Maag, linebacker Josh Navratil, kicker Adam Stage and nose guard Jalen Morrison. UND's wide receiver corps might see some new faces this week as injuries have caused the unit to be without Maag, Tyler Burian and Christian Cochran. Rookies Nick Kupfer and Nate Demontagnac started the season on the scout team but have taken more reps with the regulars this week. Backup kicker Brady Stevens will be asked to handle field goals for the second game in his career after debuting with a 2-for-2 showing last week at South Dakota.

The Fighting Hawks will win if the offense can shake free its rushing attack. UND has played two strong run defenses in North Dakota State and South Dakota. Southern Illinois hasn't been bad defending the run, but statistically they're more in the middle of the pack of the league in run defense compared to the clear top two in NDSU and USD. That could open the door for UND's offense to find a rhythm and get star running back Otis Weah into the clear more than he's been allowed this fall. As painful as UND's start to league play has been for some fans, they've also lost by one score to both opponents. If UND can put an end to its penalty problem, the Hawks are close to breaking through.

The Salukis will win if UND can't match the explosive nature of Southern Illinois. UND and Southern Illinois have seemingly opposite offenses this year. The Fighting Hawks have struggled to net many big plays and the Salukis thrive on them. Southern Illinois could also pounce on UND's shaky quarterback status. If UND starter Tommy Schuster doesn't put together a great first few series, this week may be the time the Hawks' coaching staff feels the pressure to see what backup Quincy Vaughn can do. UND's defense might also face a new challenge with nose guard Jalen Morrison unlikely to suit up against the Salukis. That'll put pressure on UND's unproven depth behind Morrison at a position vital in a 3-4 defense's hopes of stuffing an opponent's run game.