SIU looking to keep wheel in Carbondale after annual ‘War for the Wheel’ game with SEMO

SIU fights to retain the Wheel
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 4:51 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2022 at 5:08 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE. (KFVS) - Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Southeast Missouri State University will face each other Saturday, September 10 for the annual rivalry “War for the Wheel.”

“I think it’s a great rivalry game, just with the schools being so close. Two Division 1 teams separated by 45 minutes away. I mean, so, I’m glad we play every year,” said SIU Coach Nick Hill.

Coach Hill shared some special moments in this rivalry, from his first win as a head coach to completing his first collegiate pass.

“Got a lot of respect for their program and especially just the connection Coach Tuke and I have, and him coaching me so it’s a great game, always a competitive game and so we’re looking forward to playing this one at home,” said Hill.

Coach Tuke was a coach at SIU for seven seasons. He coached Nick Hill when he was the quarterback for the Salukis.

Coach Hills players share the same excitement as him with the rivalry against SEMO.

“The War for the Wheel means pride, it means everything, Saluki nation, like, that’s what we bleed, I bleed maroon. So the War for the Wheel. We just been going back like head-butting them boys back and forth, back and forth but to have that war here, that wheel here and not letting them boys get it is means everything to us. We’re trying to keep that home,” said SIU linebacker Ma’kel Calhoun.

Even Calhoun’s quarterback Nic Baker shared that same excitement with the rivalry.

“It’s huge, Baker said. “Ever since I’ve been here, it’s been just a part of what we talk about every year just beating SEMO and that games just a big game and even when I wasn’t playing, just the atmosphere is just a little different for that game just the way that people approach it and the fans.”

SIU has won the last two matchups in the War for the Wheel. The salukis are trying again to keep the wheel in Carbondale.

“It means a lot to me, just being a Saluki and playing for that title and the rivalry that it is between us and SEMO. It’s just a great experience to be able to win that,” said SIU running back Javon WIlliams, Jr.

Every coach and player we talked with said they are excited to play this game at Saluki Stadium.

“I’m just excited for the atmosphere,” Baker said. “It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be super fun. We’re going to pack this place. It’s going to be loud. You know we’re ready for them, it’s going to be a fun game.”

This year, the broadcast of the game will be aired live on KFVS-TOO, with a half-hour pre-game special at 5:30 p.m.