YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An 0-2 start to conference play is one of the reasons the Youngstown State University football team failed to qualify for the playoffs last season.

This season, the Penguins are hoping to avoid the same start in the MVFC with a win this weekend against nationally ranked Southern Illinois.

Watch the video above to hear from the YSU football team before this Saturday’s big matchup.

“We can talk all we want about Southern Illinois,” said YSU head coach Doug Phillips. “I think they’re a great program, great team, fifth-ranked team, great run defense, but we got to fix us.”

“It’s a big game,” added Penguins linebacker Alex Howard. “Every game in the conference is a big game, but we got to get started so we can get rolling.”

“We don’t want to start off how we started off last year’s conference play,” said Penguins wide receiver Bryce Oliver. “So if we could flip the script this weekend, it’d be a blessing.”

“For us, I think it’s a pressure cooker. Every Saturday, we take the field; our kids got to feel that,” added Phillips. “You got to learn to thrive in that pressure.”

“It’s just one game. We got a whole season to play. We don’t want to harp on just one game,” said Oliver. “So for the fans, just ride behind us and gel behind us. We got you, man. It’s going to be a special season. You just got to trust it”.

The Penguins will play host to undefeated Southern Illinois this Saturday at 6 p.m. under the lights at Stambaugh Stadium.