October 29, 2015

(STATS) - Illinois State coach Brock Spack believes Anthony Warrum would be one of the best shooters on the school's basketball team if he had decided to go that route.

As it stands, Spack is certainly glad the star receiver is instead playing for him.

Warrum looks to extend his stellar stretch as the third-ranked Missouri Valley Conference leaders seek an FCS-best 17th straight home win Saturday against No. 21 Indiana State.

Warrum earned MVC offensive player of the week honors after finishing with four catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday's 48-28 win over Western Illinois. He also recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score.

The junior has totaled 11 receptions, 364 yards and six touchdowns in his past two games, leaving him fifth in the nation in receiving yards (743) and tied for second in touchdowns (10).

"He had a really good freshman year as a starter for us. Last year, he didn't have quite as many opportunities," Spack said. "But this year he's kind of taken off as our lead guy."

Since a 31-14 season-opening loss at Iowa, the Redbirds (6-1, 4-0) have averaged 39.8 points and 438.3 yards while winning their last six to build a one-game conference lead. Quarterback Tre Roberson accounted for 300 total yards and four touchdowns last week, while Marshaun Coprich rushed for 206 yards and two scores on 29 attempts.

Coprich, third in the nation with 985 yards and 12 touchdowns, has run for 263 and four scores in his last two meetings with the Sycamores (4-3, 2-2).

"I'll call it the three-headed monster and that's the starting point," Indiana State coach Mike Sanford said. "We have to be able to defend those guys."

The Sycamores, however, have given up 30.3 points and 450.8 total yards per game over their last six. Quarterback Matt Adam's 81-yard run in the fourth quarter tied last Saturday's contest before visiting North Dakota State scored the final two touchdowns for a 28-14 victory.

The Redbirds have dominated this series by winning 15 of the past 17 meetings, but they needed a field goal with three seconds left to pull out a 20-18 win at Indiana State last year. Coprich led the way with 126 rushing yards and a touchdown.

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STICK ANSWERING THE CALL=

With freshman Easton Stick filling in well for injured starter Carson Wentz, No. 7 North Dakota State (5-2, 3-1) is back on track heading into Saturday's trip to Southern Illinois.

Wentz, the most outstanding player of the 2014 national championship game, won't play again until at least December because of a wrist injury. Stick stepped in last Saturday, running for 124 yards and throwing for 126 at Indiana State.

"I'm really happy for Easton and his productivity," coach Chris Klieman said. "I thought he did a great job managing the game as well as giving us a nice threat running the football. We're hoping that each week that he takes some snaps he's going to keep getting better and better."

Southern Illinois (3-4, 2-2) has had its share of success offensively, leading the MVC with 41.1 points and 531.6 total yards per game. Matt Iannotti threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns while running for another score as the Salukis improved to 3-0 at home with last Saturday's 38-31 overtime win over then-No. 16 Youngstown State.

The senior is tied for fifth nationally with 22 total touchdowns (16 passing, six rushing). He provides a difficult challenge for the four-time defending national champs, who lead the MVC in total defense at 297.1 yards allowed per game.

"We have to be able to somewhat control (Iannotti)," Klieman said. "He throws the ball exceptionally well and they have a lot of schemes for him to run the football so we're not going to stop him. We just have to try to control him a little bit."

The Salukis have lost the last five meetings, including the past two by a combined 69-20.

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PENGUINS LOOK TO STOP SLIDE=

While the 23rd-ranked Leathernecks look to rebound from their first MVC defeat, the No. 25 Penguins try to avoid their first four-game skid since 2012 Saturday in Macomb.

Youngstown State (3-4, 1-3) allowed a total of 20 points during a three-game winning streak before giving up 35.7 per game while dropping its last three. The Penguins surrendered a season-high 459 yards to Southern Illinois last Saturday.

Now they'll have to deal with Western quarterback Trenton Norvell and receiver Lance Lenoir. Norvell ranks second in the MVC with 254.9 passing yards per game and Lenior is third with an average of 92.9 receiving yards.

Norvell, a third-year starter, threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns, while Lenoir had 11 catches for 131 yards and a score in last Saturday's loss at Illinois State that dropped Western (4-3, 3-1) one game behind the Redbirds.

The Leathernecks had dropped nine of the previous 10 meetings with the Penguins before Norvell threw for four touchdowns - two to Lenoir - in a 30-24 road win last season.

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SDS WON'T LOOK PAST BEARS=

Following a crushing 10-7 home loss to Northern Iowa, No. 14 South Dakota State (5-2, 2-2) appears poised to get back on track against struggling Missouri State.

Coach John Stiegelmeier, however, knows anything can happen in the MVC.

"Every game is going to be tough," he said. "It doesn't matter (what the records are), you have to prepare that way. It's about how we perform, not who we're playing."

Stiegelmeier's squad is playing well defensively, allowing a total of 25 points in its last three games. It'll try to continue that trend against Missouri State (1-6, 0-4), which has scored 12 in the last two of a five-game losing streak after a 40-10 loss at South Dakota last Saturday.

The Jackrabbits have won six of seven meetings, but lost 35-21 in their most recent trip to Missouri State in 2013 and had to rally from an 18-point deficit for a 32-28 win last season.

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COYOTES BUILDING MOMENTUM=

After upsetting North Dakota State 24-21 on Oct. 17 and routing Missouri State last Saturday, South Dakota is on a roll entering its road test against No. 18 Northern Iowa.

Ryan Saeger completed 20 of 29 passes for a career-high 275 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Michael Fredrick ran for 129 yards and a score against the Bears.

"(Saeger) throws the ball well. He can get himself out of trouble," Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley said. "They're playing with good energy and momentum right now."

Farley would like to see another solid defensive effort from his group after the Panthers (3-4, 1-3) snapped a three-game losing streak last Saturday at South Dakota State.

Aaron Bailey gives Northern Iowa a dual-threat under center, throwing for 113 yards and running for 169 and a touchdown against the Jackrabbits.

The Panthers have won five of the six all-time meetings, though South Dakota (4-3, 2-2) came away with a 38-31 win in its last trip to Cedar Falls on Oct. 19, 2013.

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