Football must have sense of urgency with two regular season games left


Jake Thompson

Charlie Fisher and company need to win one more game to officially punch their postseason ticket.

Danny Frey

The luck ran out for Western Illinois football on Saturday. Another last-minute comeback just wasn’t in the cards against a scrappy Illinois State team. There’s no doubt that the Redbirds are now clicking on all cylinders following back-to-back upsets over top-ranked teams with their backs up against the wall.

This doesn’t necessarily apply to the team itself, but many people felt that the Leathernecks at 6-2 were practically a lock for the FCS playoffs. Not to be all gloom and doom, but that just isn’t the case. If Western loses out, they would be 6-5. The Leathernecks were the first team ever in FCS history to qualify for postseason play with that record last season. This week’s opponent, Northern Iowa, can win out, and Illinois State can close out their regular season victoriously against Missouri State this Saturday.

Again, I hate playing the “what if” game, but I will continue. If Illinois State and Northern Iowa are 6-5, then they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Leathernecks. I find it very hard to believe that the playoff selection committee would take more than one or two 6-5 teams. Head coach Charlie Fisher realizes that business has to be taken care of. The Panthers roll into Macomb this upcoming weekend obliterating teams after struggling in the middle part of the season. UNI will be out for revenge after last year. Bob Nielson’s formula worked when a then-unranked Leatherneck football team pulled off an upset in Cedar Falls.

The seventh win would almost lock Western into a second consecutive playoff berth. Eight wins could lock up a home playoff game in the first round, but ultimately Fisher won’t start to feel comfortable until the Leathernecks win one more game. Don’t write off Southern Illinois in Week 12. The Salukis have been competitive all season long in the MVFC. It just took them until last week to break through with a 35-28 win versus South Dakota.

With all that being said, I would expect these final two games to come down to the wire. The Leathernecks just play in close and exciting games. That’s what they do. But as seen last week, the result can go both ways.