Whether on the basketball court or football field, the sentiment around Sacramento State vs. UC Davis is simple to senior guard Trevis Jackson: “It’s a game we have to win.”
Both the Sac State football and men’s basketball programs will get their shot on Saturday and Monday, respectively. In fact, the rivalry will be magnified as the Hornets (1-2) play UC Davis (3-1) at the brand-new Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center in its 115th meeting against the Aggies.
Sac State — which won its home opener 82-60 against Antelope Valley on Thursday — leads UC Davis 66-48 in the all-time series dating back to 1954. This includes a 2-1 edge in favor of the Hornets during the last three seasons, which senior forward and captain Nick Hornsby has experienced first hand.
“Since I’ve been here for three years, every game has been good, there’s never been a blowout game — it’s always competitive and it’s always a rivalry,” Hornsby said after posting back-to-back double-doubles in the first two games of the season. “It’s always respect at the end of the day, but it’s always a game you look forward to when you see it on the schedule and it’s always fun to play against those guys. They’re just as competitive, just as good as we are.”
The Hornets have had its fair share of competition already this season after road losses against Power Five opponents Colorado (90-53) on Nov. 11 and Nebraska (83-61) on Nov. 13. These initial losses bring Sac State to a 17-45 win-loss record dating back to Nov. 16, 2012, away from the Hornets Nest.
“By the time we get to play UC Davis, which is normally three to four games into the season, we start to grasp a sense for who we are and I think that is the biggest thing about this first road trip and how it is a learning experience because like our coach says, ‘It is about what team figures themselves out first by the end of the year and that is the team that is successful,’” Jackson said.
“I feel these big road trips at the beginning of the season are very pivotal for us because they help us figure ourselves out (and) that edge with the rivalry adds to that — you want to perform well. So for us, it helps us realize this is what we need to do for us to win and it’s almost second nature by then.”
The desire to defeat UC Davis is already second nature to Sac State senior running back Jordan Robinson — who rushed for a career-high 262 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-35 victory over Portland State on Nov. 12 — as the Hornet football team (2-8, 2-6 Big Sky) prepares for the last game of the season against the cross-town Aggies (2-8, 1-5 Big Sky) at Aggie Stadium on Saturday.
“That’s the most important one — we could win no games, but we’ve got to win Davis,” Robinson said after earning Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors on Nov. 13. “There’s no exceptions with that so this is a good little momentum going into Davis week. I’m sure (they) don’t like us, we don’t like them.”
The matchup, much like this season, has been unfavorable for the Sac State football team as the Hornets are 1-4 against UC Davis in the last five games and have a 19-44 all-time record against the Aggies dating back to 1954. However, the feud still runs strong throughout the Yolo Causeway to players and coaches alike.
“It’s your rival, it’s your cross-town foe, the neighborhood dude you want to beat every time,” Sac State head football coach Jody Sears said in regards to bringing back the Causeway Cup to Sacramento. “Like (Robinson) said, they don’t like us, we sure as heck don’t like them … it’s the spirit of the rivalry (and) I don’t care if it’s USC-UCLA, Sac State-Davis, Army-Navy — it’s why we play the game and I can’t wait to watch these kids go play them next week.”
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