CARBONDALE — The SIU football team will play Wisconsin in 2020 a week earlier than announced after the Badgers asked to change the contract so they could host Appalachian State of the Sun Belt Conference.
The Salukis will now play at Wisconsin on Sept. 12, 2020, according to SIU athletic director Tommy Bell. The change will allow SIU to play a yet unnamed regional FCS program (Bell said there is a verbal agreement with an opponent but no official contract as of today) on the road Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, go to Wisconsin the next weekend and then host Southeast Missouri State Sept. 19.
The purse for SIU's game at Wisconsin will remain $500,000. The Badgers get to host an FBS opponent, Appalachian State, as well as host Syracuse and play Notre Dame at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 2020.
"As this thing came together, it came together in our benefit, because we were going to play SEMO on the opening weekend of the season on a Thursday night before Labor Day weekend, a home game," Bell said. "That did not turn out. It wasn't in our best interest. So now we're gonna play SEMO in our home opener on the 19th, 2020."
SIU's trip to Wisconsin will be its first game against a Big 10 Conference opponent since falling at Indiana 48-47 in 2015. The Salukis are 1-7 against current members of the Big 10, beating Indiana in 2006 35-28 when current coach Nick Hill was the starting quarterback.
Madison is located about seven hours from Carbondale. The Badgers compete in 80,321-seat Camp Randall Stadium.
Wisconsin paid Western Illinois, the most recent Missouri Valley Football Conference team to play the Badgers, $450,000 in 2014. Northern Iowa got $450,000 in 2012.
Wisconsin is a combined 17-1 against current members of the Valley. South Dakota State beat the Badgers 13-6 in 1935 for the league's only victory in the series.
The Big 10 announced a no-FCS opponents policy in 2015 in order to strengthen its non-conference scheduling and improve its chances of landing a team in the four-team College Football Playoff. It has since backed off that policy since moving to a nine-game conference schedule this summer, and now allows a school with only four conference home games to schedule an FCS opponent those years.
SIU received around $300,000 to play at Memphis this year, and will play at Mississippi in 2018. The Salukis have two FBS opponents in 2019. The Salukis are scheduled to play at UMass, a former program in the Colonial Athletic Association, and at Arkansas State that year after Liberty backed out of its scheduled rematch with SIU.
UMass is now one of four FBS independents, along with Army, Notre Dame and BYU. Arkansas State competes in the Sun Belt Conference.
SIU also has a road trip to Kansas State in 2021 that will pay the athletic department $450,000.