Happy Thanksgiving, people. If you’re not already full of turkey, please stuff yourself full if general information about Eastern Illinois, the team South Dakota State will host on Saturday in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs:
The school has an enrollment of 11,866 and is located in Charleston, Ill. (pop: 21,838), roughly 45 miles south of Champaign.
EIU is 4-25 against Football Bowl Subdivision schools since moving to the FCS in 1981 with all four wins coming against MAC programs. The most recent was in 2004, a 31-28 win at Eastern Michigan.
The Panthers won the D-II national title under coach Darrell Mudra and offensive coordinator Mike Shannan, an EIU alum. Mudra won 200 games in his career and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Former Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress also went to the school as did actor John Malkovich.
Last season marked the 24th and final for Bob Spoo as head coach at EIU. He went 144-131-11 in that time. No other coach in program history has coached for more than eight years or earned more than 47 wins.
Some former Panthers players you’ve heard of: QB Sean Payton, QB Tony Romo and DL John Jurkovic. Romo won the Walter Payton Award in 2002.
EIU is making its 14th FCS playoff appearance, tied with McNeese State for eighth-most. The top 7: Montana (21), Eastern Kentucky (21), Appalachian State (20), Georgia Southern (19), Northern Iowa (16), Furman (15), Delaware (15).
The Panthers play at O’Brien Stadium, a 10,000-seat facility that has artificial turf and hosts the Illinois high school state track and field meet.
EIU has never faced SDSU, but is 3-0 against teams from the Rushmore State. That includes three wins over the University of South Dakota and one against Augustana.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.