Today, seven of the Gateway Conference's eight teams will be in action. Southern Illinois is idle.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State defensive line coach Antoine Smith is very familiar with the Penguins' opponent today -- the Maine Black Bears, who play the Penguins at 4 p.m. in Stambaugh Stadium.
Smith joined the Penguins in the spring after spending two seasons as defensive line coach at Lafayette, helping the Leopards to the I-AA playoffs a year ago.
But before that Smith was a three-year starter and four-year letterwinner at defensive tackle for Maine, and in 2003 he spent one season as defensive line coach for the Black Bears.
Still knows staff
"I know it's going to be pretty exciting," Smith said. "I'm still familiar with some of their coaches and players, but come game time I'll only be concerned with what their offense is trying to do to our defense."
From 1996 through 1999 Smith played in 38 games, recording 111 tackles, including 58 solo stops, for the Black Bears.
YSU and Maine haven't met since 1990 and the series record is 2-2 with both teams winning on their home fields.
Today seven of the eight teams in the Gateway Conference will be in action. Only Southern Illinois is idle.
Besides YSU, Northern Iowa and Western Illinois will be trying for their second straight victory.
The Panthers will play host to North Dakota at 5:05 p.m. at the UNI-Dome. UNI leads the series 25-12, but the teams haven't met since 1978 when the Panthers prevailed, 35-17.
The Leathernecks will take on Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., in a 3:30 p.m. game that will be televised on ESPNU. This is Western Illinois' second meeting with the Badgers winning the first one in 1991, 31-13.
Illinois State, coming off a near-upset win over Kansas State, will play host to Central Arkansas at 7:30 p.m. It is the first meeting between the teams.
Missouri State (0-1) will play host to Southwest Baptist at 7 p.m. in Springfield, Mo., which is also the first meeting between the schools.
Indiana State, which scored 35 points in a loss at Purdue last week, will be on the road again, at Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. EIU leads the series 39-37-4, including a 24-13 win last season.
Western Kentucky (0-1) will take on in-state rival Eastern Kentucky in Richmond, Ky., at 6 p.m. The Hilltoppers hold a 46-33-3 advantage in the series, including a 23-21 win last season.