Predicting the second half of the Sac State football season

Dante Geoffrey

The worst should be over for the Sacramento State Hornets football team. After tomorrow’s game at Northern Colorado the Hornets will finish the season with four of the last five games in the friendly confines of Hornet Stadium.

At 2-3 (1-2) the Hornets face an uphill battle for the playoffs but a favorable second-half schedule and an potentially explosive offense make a top-three conference finish a realistic goal.

Here’s how I expect* the rest of the season to shake out.

Oct. 8 – @ Northern Colorado

The Hornets take on the last place NCU Bears Saturday. The Bears are winless on the season with their closest loss coming in the season opener against Lindenwood, 22-20. Anyone want to tell me what a Lindenwood is?

Anything but a convincing win would be a disappointment for Sac State. Last week Northern Colorado lost 55-28 to Montana, a team the Hornets handled with relative ease at home two weeks ago. The Bears have allowed at least 45 points against each Big Sky opponent this season.

Prediction: Hornets 42, Bears 21. 

Hornets’ record: 3-3, (2-2)

Oct. 15 – Bye week

Prediction: I will drink more this weekend.

Oct. 22 – vs. Eastern Washington

Last year’s FCS champions have lost all of their intimidation factor, losing four in a row before finally winning against Weber State. To be fair, Eastern Washington almost beat Washington University in Week One, challenging Sac State for best FCS upset victory. The Eagles have played most teams pretty close but the Hornets should be able to further humiliate the reigning champs at home. 

Prediction: Hornets 27, Eagles 20.

Hornets’ record: 4-3, (3-2)

Oct. 29 – vs. Northern Arizona

Northern Arizona is 2-2 (1-1) with victories at home against Fort Lewis (forts can have football teams?) and Idaho State. Both losses have come on the road, at Pac-12 team Arizona and at Portland State. 

Lumberjacks junior quarterback Cary Grossart (a Folsom High School product) is more of a pocket passer than a scrambler, only rushing for positive yardage in one game so far this season. If Sac State can stop the Lumberjacks’ rushing attack it will give Zack Nash and the rest of the defense a chance to put the pressure on Grossart.

Prediction: Hornets 30, Lumberjacks 21.

Hornets’ record: 5-3 (4-2)

Nov. 5 – @ Portland State

The final road game of the season looks to be a bigger challenge than anticipated at the beginning of the year. PSU, 2-9 (1-7) in 2010 is a surprising 3-1 (2-0) in 2011. The Vikings are 2-0 at home with their lone loss coming at FBS powerhouse TCU.

PSU’s weakness appears to be similar to that of the Hornets. The Vikings defense has given up far too many points – 29 to Northern Arizona and 35 to Idaho State (it should be noted that PSU shut out NAIA opponent Southern Oregon). Sac State’s offense should be able to light up the scoreboard, but the Vikings can do the same, scoring less than 30 points only against TCU. 

Prediction: As much as I’d like to count on the “I’m going to be at this game and Sac State is 2-0 when I’m in attendance” factor, the Hornets defense has been too shaky, especially on the road, to inspire any confidence. Vikings 38, Hornets 28.

Hornets’ record: 5-4 (4-3)

Nov. 12 – vs. Idaho State

The final Big Sky game comes at home against the Idaho State Potato Farmers Bengals 2-3 (1-2).

The “Bengals” are much improved over last season, having already doubled their win total over last year’s 1-10 (0-8) campaign. 

With a record identical to the Hornets, the Bengals (show me a bengal in Idaho that isn’t caged and I’ll tattoo Idaho State’s mascot on my left butt cheek) seem like a formidable opponent. Upon closer inspection this game looks like it should be a cake walk for Sac State. 

Idaho State’s wins have come against Western State College of Colorado (which barely beat University of Phoenix in an online game of Madden) and Northern Colorado, which as previously stated, is winless.

Prediction: Hornets 41, Bengals 24.

Hornets’ record 6-4 (5-3)

Nov. 19 – vs. UC Davis

The 58th annual Causeway Classic marks the last time these teams compete as inter-conference rivals, as UC Davis football is joining the Big Sky next season. As for this season, the Aggies 1-3 (0-0) have had some trouble with their out of conference competition, scoring only 73 points in four games so far this season. The Aggies won’t start conference play until Oct. 22 due to playing in a five-team conference. 

Though the record is poor, it’s important to note Davis’ losses have come against Arizona State, Montana State (which just beat Sac State) and Hawaii. Only one loss has come against an FCS school.

Still, it’s the Causeway Classic, the last during my time a Sac State (knock on wood) so that’s enough excuses for the Aggies.

They stink, and I hate ’em!

Prediction: Hornets 23, Aggies 17 in a close and exciting battle. Here’s to wishful thinking!

Hornets’ record 7-4 (5-3)

Anything can happen the second half of the season, but just one more loss will completely douse any playoff hopes that still linger in the hearts of Sac State football fans. It can happen, the team has the talent, but the inconsistency that has plagued this team will keep it from reaching its fullest potential.

Still, a 7-4 record would be a one-win improvement over last season, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.


*based on almost nothing

Dante Geoffrey can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @dantegeoffrey.