Salukis' Hill: 'Next step' ahead

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CRAIG HALEY (Stats Perform FCS Senior Editor=)
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(Stats Perform) - Southern Illinois coach Nick Hill feels the Salukis are ready to take the next step as a program, which seemingly is necessary in their 11-game 2020 schedule which was announced Monday.

The Salukis will play six FCS programs that had winning seasons last year and travel to Big Ten power Wisconsin for an FBS matchup.

It's probably beneficial SIU won't face North Dakota State, which has won the last nine Missouri Valley Football Conference championships as well as eight of the last nine FCS national titles. The Bison, though, remain a measuring stick for the Salukis.

"When I sit in front of recruits and tell them the expectations are to win a national championship, I feel like that's not just quotes on a wall, or saying that and not really believing it," Hill said.

Last year, SIU fell just shy of making its first playoff appearance since 2009, finishing 7-5 with an FBS win over UMass and 5-3 in the MVFC while tying for third place. The Salukis are expected to return 16 starters - eight on each side of the ball - for Hill's fifth season.

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2020 Southern Illinois Schedule

Sept. 3, at UT Martin

Sept. 12, at Wisconsin

Sept. 19, Southeast Missouri

Oct. 3, Northern Iowa*

Oct. 10, at Illinois State*

Oct. 17, at Missouri State*

Oct. 24, South Dakota State* (Homecoming)

Oct. 31, at Youngstown State*

Nov. 7, Indiana State*

Nov. 14, Western Illinois*

Nov. 21, at North Dakota*

* - MVFC game