Here are game-by-game predictions for the Hornets, who are ranked No. 10 in HERO Sports’ FCS Preseason Top 25.
RELATED: Sac State Football Preview
Nicholls, a team that’s been in the playoffs from 2017-2019, has fallen off and finished 3-8 in 2022.
vs Texas A&M-Commerce
Texas A&M-Commerce looks to continue competing better as it transitions from D2. Last year, it went 5-6 overall and 3-3 in the Southland Conference.
These first two games will see Sac State heavily favored.
It’s a chance for first-year head coach Andy Thompson and his team to get the new starting QB settled in. There are not many questions elsewhere on the roster. Sac State returns its leading pass-catcher Marshel Martin, All-Conference RB Marcus Fulcher, four starting offensive linemen (three of which are All-Conference players), leading tackler Armon Bailey, DT standout Jett Stanley, CB standout Caleb Nelson, and eight of the top 11 tacklers.
Calling my shot now. Sac State shocks everyone and beats P5 Stanford.
Or would it really be all that shocking?
Stanford Athletics is going through a tumultuous time as it has been left in the dust by a majority of Pac-12 members. Its conference affiliation in 2024 is unknown. The football team also just isn’t very good. Stanford went 3-9 last year and is picked to finish last in the 2023 conference standings.
Will new Stanford head coach Troy Taylor let his old team beat his new team? He’ll certainly try to get his players up for this game, but going from playing USC to Sacramento State a week later can be a gotcha moment for 18-22-year-olds. Sac State has the guys in the trenches to compete. And I think the Hornets pull off the win. Fulcher arrives on the national FCS map in this one.
at No. 5 Idaho
After an emotional win, Sac State drops its first Big Sky contest since 2019.
Idaho is going to have a great home-field advantage this year. And its elite passing attack will stress Sac State’s defense that ranked No. 91 in the FCS with 243.0 passing yards allowed per game.
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vs Northern Arizona
NAU is a bit of an unknown with 28 Division 1 transfers coming in, including 18 from the FBS. Sac State should be favored here.
at Northern Colorado
Northern Colorado has a lot of work to do. The program hired the right man in head coach Ed Lamb, but it will be a big rebuilding project.
vs No. 3 Montana State
MSU hasn’t beaten Sac State since 2015. Then again, the two have only met twice since then with the last matchup coming in 2019. The 2022 Big Sky co-champs both finished 8-0 in the standings. Adding to this matchup is the national spotlight of ESPN2.
I’m very high on MSU this year. I think they have the play in the trenches, the veteran leadership, and the mental makeup to win a lot of tough road games this season. Sac State loses a wild one.
vs Idaho State
A good get-right game for the Hornets in between tough opponents.
at No. 16 Montana
Sac State may run into a buzzsaw.
Montana has a top-notch home environment. And the Griz players/coaches/fans will be out for revenge.
Last year’s Sac State 31-24 overtime win over Montana saw a controversial call late in the game in the Hornets’ favor. It also saw a targeting penalty inflicted on Griz QB Lucas Johnson, which knocked him out of the game and the next week’s game at No. 5 Weber State, a 24-21 loss. If that helmet-to-helmet hit didn’t happen, you could argue that Montana beats Sac State and Weber.
A tough place and spot to get a win. Sac State drops its third game of the season.
vs Cal Poly
Another good get-right game for the Hornets.
at No. 18 UC Davis
Just like in past years, the playoff implications will be huge here. Both squads could have seven D1 wins by now, so a victory pretty much locks in a playoff bid.
Last fall’s 27-21 Sac State win got the Hornets the No. 2 playoff seed and knocked UC Davis to the wrong side of the bracket bubble at 6-5.
I really like UC Davis’ team this year. But Sac State has had the upper hand in this rivalry. The Hornets extend their Causeway Classic winning streak to four.
Regular-Season Record Prediction: 8-3