PREVIEW: No. 6 Sac State football team faces off with co-Big Sky leaders No. 3 Weber State

Both 6-2 teams have yet to lose to an FCS opponent


Eucario Calderon

Sacramento State juniors, quarterback Kevin Thomson and running back Elijah Dotson, run an option play against Montana Oct. 19 at Hornet Stadium. The No. 6 Hornets host No. 3 Weber State Saturday night.

Mack Ervin III

The No. 6 Sacramento State football team got its fourth win in a row last Saturday, setting up a showdown for first place in the Big Sky Conference against No. 3 Weber State University this weekend.

The Hornets landed sixth in both the STATS and Coaches Poll this week, while Weber State enters at No. 3 in both polls after a 36-20 win over UC Davis. Both teams have identical records at 6-2, with both losses coming against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

Sac State has played three ranked teams this season while Weber State has yet to play one. The winner of the game will take sole possession of first place in the Big Sky Conference.

“They’re a great football team obviously, their record shows that,” Taylor said. “Very physical on defense, very sound offensively. They’re a versatile team (that) can run and throw the ball, all the units on special teams are very solid. Like you would expect a team that (is) undefeated in the Big Sky, they don’t have many weaknesses.”

In a 38-14 win against Cal Poly last Saturday, the Hornets’ offense was held to a scoreless first quarter, before taking control of the game later in the first half. Junior quarterback Kevin Thomson said the team will be looking to do the opposite this week.

RELATED: No. 7 Sac State football team runs over Cal Poly in 38-14 victory

“We got off to a bit of a slow start offensively that game. We just didn’t execute, didn’t make the plays that we wanted to early on,” Thomson said. “It’s a new week to prepare, a new game, so we’ll be looking to come out fast.”

A big factor for Sac State this season is the performance of its defense, which has held opposing teams to under 20 points per game on average. The most points allowed came against Eastern Washington when the defense allowed 27 points. However, the Hornets defeated the then-No. 21 Eagles by three touchdowns.

RELATED: Sac State football team upsets No. 21 Eastern Washington in Big Sky opener

Thomson said the defense has been instrumental in keeping the offense out of trouble in tough situations like the game against Cal Poly.

“The defense has been playing lights out. I love watching our defense play,” Thomson said. “They give us a lot of energy and get us the ball back quickly. They make huge stops and just give us a lot of momentum going back out there on offense. It’s great to watch.”

Taylor agreed, giving credit to the defensive coaching staff.

“They’re incredibly well coached,” Taylor said. “Andy Thompson, Kraig Paulson, Sam Cole and Cherokee Valeria, our defensive staff is unbelievable (with) their preparation and detail in teaching these guys. We’ve got good players, they’re working real hard, buying into the system.”

Junior linebacker Marcus Hawkins said that while the Wildcats’ movement will present challenges for his team, their game plan should overcome them.

“We’re just doing everything we’re being coached,” Hawkins said. “Our coaches have a great game plan going into every game. They really put us in great spots. We do the easy part, which is executing on Saturdays.”

The No. 6 Hornets face the No. 3 Wildcats Saturday night at 6 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.