PREVIEW: Sac State looks for first 3-0 start in 30 years against Colorado State

Hornets seek first win over an FBS opponent in 10 years.


Alyssa Branum

Sac State football running through team drills at practice Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Hornet Stadium. The Hornets are taking a trip to Fort Collins, Colorado for a clash with Colorado State on Saturday.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

The undefeated Sacramento State Hornets are on the road for the second game in their three-game road trip. This week, the Hornets make the trip to Fort Collins, Colorado, taking on the Colorado State Rams.

The Hornets are coming off a 37-21 win over Northern Iowa. Meanwhile, the Rams are coming off their third straight loss this season at Washington State.

RELATED: Sac State football sneaks out with 37-21 victory over Northern Iowa

While Sac State is 0-3 in games against FBS opponents under head coach Troy Taylor, every game they’ve played has been close. The largest margin of defeat was at Fresno State, where the Hornets lost by 14 points.

Despite this, the Hornets are treating it like any other game.

“It’s just another game for us,” junior running back Marcus Fulcher said. “We’re just going to do what we do day in and day out, play as a team.”

This is a point that Sac State head coach Troy Taylor emphasized. 

“What it really comes down to is the preparation,” Taylor said. “We are really a routine oriented program, so we do the same things every week… then hopefully, we put a good product on the field.”

None of Colorado State’s losses from Washington State, Michigan and Middle Tennessee State have been close, with the Rams only scoring double digits once this season. 

It is worth noting that this will be the Ag Day game at Colorado State’s Canvas Stadium. Celebrating Ag Day at football games started 12 years ago as a continuation of the 41-year-old celebration of Colorado’s agricultural roots and promoting agriculture in local communities. The Rams are 0-3 in their last three Ag Day games but expect this crowd to be fired up on Saturday.


The Hornets went with a short passing attack last week against UNI. The main targets being junior Marshel Martin, sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo and Fulcher. 

Skattebo has been the feature back for Sac State and maybe the most important part of their offensive attack. With 263 yards in just two games, while averaging 12.5 yards a run, if Skattebo keeps that up, the offense will be tough to stop.

“[The Hornets] do a good job at running the football,” Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell said in his weekly press conference. “We are going to have a big challenge against us in the running game.”

Expect Sac State to keep their short, quick, rhythmic passing game going. Senior quarterback Jake Dunniway should get most of the work here, but fellow senior quarterback Asher O’Hara should get plenty of plays in the red zone. 

Martin was critical to the Hornets success on third down last week. Throw in a little of senior wideout Pierre Williams, and the Hornets will keep the ball rolling in their passing game.

The Sac State pass rush will also be critical to this match up. The Rams offensive line has given up at least seven sacks a game this season, the most in the FBS. This has severely limited Colorado State’s offensive output as the Rams have lost 159 yards to sacks this season.

These two teams differ in the turnover differential. Sac State has a positive six turnover differential, meaning they have had six more turnovers than giveaways. 

“We talk about taking care of the football in terms of not turning it over,” Taylor said. “I think our defensive coaches do a great job of creating confusion and forcing quarterbacks to make a decision a little quicker than he wants to.”

Colorado State has a negative four differential. If the Rams want any chance in this game, they have to hold onto the football.

Colorado State wants to run their offense through redshirt freshman quarterback Clay Millen. Millen’s favorite target this season has been junior wideout Tory Horton, who is averaging 100 yards a game. Millen will have to get the ball out quickly to have any success.

The Rams will be without their number two wide receiver Melquan Stoval, who announced his departure this week. Colorado State will need others to step up; keep an eye on senior Ty McCulloch to step into that number two role.

However, Norvell feels these early struggles will make the Rams stronger.

“We are going through the fire right now,” Norvell said. “You learn more from your failures than you do from your successes. A good friend of mine told me this morning, ‘It’s the storm that makes the sailor.’”

In the past two games, the Hornets secondary has struggled when it comes to covering deep passes. Northern Iowa’s offense took advantage in the second half. The Rams will need to do the same.


Sac State: The Hornets need to get after Millen in order to win this game. Sac State’s pass rush has to take advantage of the Rams poor offensive line play. If they can get to Millen, they will force turnovers. If they force turnovers, they’ll win this game. 

Colorado State: Protect the football at all costs. That needs to be the mantra throughout the game for the Rams. Ball control is key and the Rams need to keep it out of the hands of Sac State. If they can keep the football and throw it deep, the Rams should have no trouble taking their first win.


Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer (2-0): I have a hard time seeing the Hornets dropping this game. The Hornets pass rush really came alive last week with 22 quarterback hits, and they’ve been excellent at forcing turnovers. Those are the two areas where the Rams have struggled the most. I trust the Hornets to exploit these weaknesses and come away with a win.

Sac State: 31, Colorado State: 24

Jordan Latimore, Sports Editor (1-1): Sac State has been extremely dominant in these opening two games, and I don’t see anything changing, even against an FBS opponent. Hopefully, we’ll see Skattebo get a bigger role in the running game and get the chains moving for the Hornets.

Sac State: 34, Colorado State: 14

Dylan McNeill, Sports Editor (1-1): The Rams have been outscored this season 123-33. While picking up back-to-back road wins will be a tall ask for Sac State, their dynamic running game and a few timely plays on defense may be enough to get the Hornets to 3-0. If Sac State can get an early lead they will be in great shape, as their rushing attack can wear down an opponent’s defense with the Hornets’ physical runners.

Sac State 27, Colorado State 21

Keyshawn Davis, Managing Editor (0-0): The Hornets have been on a tear lately and I don’t see that ending this week against the Rams. I expect the Hornets to get to the quarterback and force turnovers. 

Sac State 35, Colorado State 10


Sac State at Colorado State will not be streamed on ESPN+, like almost every other Sac State football game. Instead, it will  stream on the Mountain West network and on local Colorado television. You can also listen live on the local Sacramento ESPN station 1320 AM.