CARBONDALE — The SIU football team will open the 2018 season at Murray State on Thursday, Aug. 30, the Salukis announced Friday.
It will be the first meeting between the two programs since 2016 and only the fifth since 2000. The kickoff time at Stewart Stadium in Murray, Kentucky, has not been announced. The Racers went 3-8 overall and 2-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
SIU comes off its second straight 4-7 campaign and a 2-6 run in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
SIU then heads to Ole Miss Sept. 8 for its annual FBS game before opening the five-game home schedule against Southeast Missouri State Sept. 15. The Salukis, who played 11 straight games last year after taking the opening weekend off, get their bye week before conference play the week of Sept. 22. SIU opens Valley Football play at home against South Dakota Sept. 29 for Family Weekend. Homecoming is set for Oct. 20 against Indiana State.
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SIU will play Youngstown State and Illinois State on the road before coming home to face the Sycamores and second-year head coach Curt Mallory. The Salukis close the regular season at Missouri State Oct. 27, at home against Western Illinois Nov. 3, at home against South Dakota State Nov. 10 and at defending national champion North Dakota State Nov. 17. As part of the MVFC's two-year rotating schedule, the Salukis will miss Northern Iowa for the first time since 1985 and pick up the Bison.
SIU is 9-10-2 against Murray State in a series that dates back to 1927. The Salukis and Racers played for the first time in 13 years in 2016, when SIU won 50-17 at Saluki Stadium. This year's road trip to Murray will be SIU's first there since 2002.
SIU last played Mississippi in 2011, when the Rebels led 21-0 in the first half and won 42-24. There may not be a better time to play the Southeastern Conference member. Ole Miss was hit with several NCAA penalties last December, including reduced scholarships, fines and a 2018 bowl ban for multiple infractions. The NCAA Committee on Infractions accused Ole Miss of lack of institutional control and fostering an "unconstrained booster culture" after similar rules violation cases in 1986 and 1994.
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Quarterback Shea Patterson, a five-star prospect out of high school, transferred to Michigan after throwing for 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns for the 6-6 (3-5 in the SEC) club. Safety Deontay Anderson, the top-ranked safety in the nation when he signed with Mississippi, left for Houston. Former coach Hugh Freeze resigned last July and was replaced by Matt Luke. Luke led the Rebels as the interim coach during the 2017 season but was given the official title last November. Phil Longo, a former offensive coordinator at SIU under Dale Lennon, is Ole Miss' offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
SIU season ticket nenewals will be mailed out at the beginning of February. To purchase season tickets, contact the athletic office at 877-SALUKIS.