PREVIEW: Sac State football continues Big Sky gauntlet against Weber State

Undefeated Hornets take their historic season on the road


Dominique Williams

Sac State freshman offensive lineman Tyler Perez battles with a fellow Hornet during offensive walk-throughs in Sacramento on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. With a physical game in store for both teams, Sac State has to win in the trenches to have a chance against Weber State.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

The #2 Sacramento State Hornets have their first-ever ranked top-five matchup in Ogden, Utah Saturday against the #5 Weber State Wildcats. 

This week marks the third straight game facing top 15 opponents for both teams. It wraps up the hardest part of both teams’ schedules.

The Hornets have beaten the #7 Montana Grizzlies and #14 Idaho Vandals. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have lost to the #3 Montana State Bobcats but beat the #11 Montana Grizzlies.

“It’s a challenge,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said. “You finish one game and you’re like, ‘woah! Okay, we are playing these guys.’”

RELATED: RECAP: Sac State football staves off hungry Vandals in thrilling victory

Both teams are battle tested and ready for whatever this game throws at them. 

Mother nature will have her hand in this game; the weather in Ogden should be cold, with a high chance of rain throughout the game.

“Once we get to game time, we will be ready,” Sac State senior wide receiver Pierre Williams said. “You get that adrenaline running– the cold doesn’t really bother you.”

Both teams will have to lean into their strength in the run game. 

The Hornets rank third in the nation in rushing yards, while the Wildcats rank 22nd. These are two teams that like to run the ball physically and control the clock. 

Sac State holds the third-best scoring offense in the country– averaging 44.0 points a game. Weber State enters with the fifth-best scoring defense,  allowing only 16.25 points a game. 

“We are going to do what we do,” Taylor said. “[We] have to find a way to run the ball a little bit; [we have to] protect and take care of the football.”

Historically, the Hornets have struggled when going to Ogden. Sac State has only won one game on the road against Weber State. 

The Wildcats are the only team in the Big Sky Conference to beat the Hornets under Taylor’s coaching. 


Stopping the Run

Weber State’s offensive attack starts on the ground. 

The three-headed rushing attack starts with sophomore running back Damon Banks, who had 162 yards against Utah Tech this season. 

Fellow sophomore running back Donate McMillen had the bulk of the carries against Montana– setting a career record with 100 rushing yards. 

Throw in a little of senior running back Josh Davis, who led the room against UC Davis. It’s hard to say who will get the start– so expect to see work from all three of these backs against Sac State.

Once the Wildcats establish the run, they will head to the air. 

Sophomore quarterback Bronson Barron runs the offense for Weber. Barron has done a solid job under center, with 14 touchdowns to just six interceptions on the year. 

His favorite big play target is senior wideout Ty MacPherson, who has caught eight of Barron’s 14 touchdowns.

Feisty Wildcat Defense

This Weber State team shines on defense. Led by junior linebacker Winston Reid, the Wildcats boast the best goal-line defense in the country and the third-best third-down defense. 

This team is built to get off the field and hold teams to field goals. 

In addition to Reid, the Wildcats also have junior cornerback Maxwell Anderson– who totals five interceptions in eight games. 

The Hornets have proven they’ll throw at good corners, but be wary of when the ball goes Anderson’s way.

Leading the Weber State pass rush is redshirt freshman linebacker Jack Kelly. Kelly leads the Wildcats in sacks with five. 

Sac State will have their hands full trying to stop this defense.

The Turnover Battle

Turnovers have been an issue for Sac State over these past two games. 

Of the Hornets’ 14 total turnovers, nine have come in the past two games. This has been keeping a lot of the games very close. 

Needless to say, Sac State cannot turn the ball over this much against Weber State.

“There were interceptions– a fumble,” Taylor said. “Those things are going to happen; hopefully [we] make good decisions and catch the ball.” 

The Hornets should continue their ground-and-pound attack with sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo, senior quarterback Asher O’Hara and junior running back Marcus Fulcher. 

Keeping the ball out of the air should help the turnover problem— especially in cold conditions.

“Every week there is a different guy who could have a big game,” Williams said. “We have so many weapons on offense; you can’t just focus on one guy.”

Sac State will get into passing situations throughout the game, where they will need to lean on senior quarterback Jake Dunniway. 

After struggling the past two weeks pushing the ball down the field recklessly and throwing four interceptions, Dunniway will need to be more protective of the ball against the Wildcats.

Instrumental to stopping the Weber State run game is senior linebacker Armon Bailey, who led the Hornet defense with three sacks and seven tackles last week against Idaho. 

Senior nickelback Marte Mapu should sit in the box and stop the Wildcat rushing attack.

Outside, junior cornerback Caleb Nelson will face a bulk of the targets and be crucial in stopping the Wildcat deep passing attack. 

To end both their thrilling wins, Sac State’s defense needed to come up with a stop. In a close matchup like this one, the defense just might find themselves in the same spot for the third week in a row.

“We practice those situations a lot,” Sac State sophomore safety Gavin Davis-Smith said. “When it comes game time we are ready to execute and get off the field; we like being on the field at the end of the game.”


Sacramento State: Protect the ball. Sac State has been really sloppy with the football over the past two weeks. Nine turnovers in two weeks is unacceptable; doing this against Weber State ends almost any shot the Hornets have at the game. Take care of the ball, drain the clock, win the game— that’s the recipe for Sac State on the road.

Weber State: It’s our house! Weber State is a tough team to beat at home, especially in the elements. The Wildcats will have a packed house Saturday; the crowd will be roaring. The weather will play into their strengths. Weber State needs to take advantage, play to the crowd and make it difficult for the Hornets to get going on offense in the cold.


Jack Freeman, Football beat writer (8-0):

If there was a game this regular season, the Hornets could easily drop it is this one. The Wildcats are a really solid football team that can beat Sac State at their own game. However, I don’t think they will lose this one. The resilience I’ve seen in the Hornets has been impressive. They’ll need it Saturday;I see them outlasting Weber State in a close game.

Sac State: 27, Weber State: 24

Jordan Latimore, Sports Editor (4-4):

I might have the worst record between everyone predicting, but I promise you folks, now is the time to really start listening to me. Sac State has not played as the road team against a squad as good as Weber State, not even to mention the tough weather conditions the Hornets are in for this Saturday – Yet, they will find a way. Sac State will heavily lean on running the rock with  their stellar running back tandem to earn themselves a huge win in Ogden. 

Sac State: 21, Weber State: 17

Dylan McNeill, Sports Editor (7-1):

Weber State is designed to beat Sac State, stingy defense that gets big plays, along with a powerful running game. Throw in the fact that it’s 80% chance of rain in cold weather, it’d take a Hornets team of destiny and overcome their 1-11 record in Ogden coming into Saturday. But so far this year the Hornets have looked like a team of destiny.

Sac State: 20, Weber State: 24

Keyshawn Davis, Managing Editor (6-0):  

The Hornets narrowly escaped the last two wins and I see that trend continuing this game. These two teams are evenly matched and rely heavily on the run game, but the Hornets are miles ahead when it comes to running the football. I think the Hornets beat the Wildcats in another thriller.

Sac State: 35, Weber State 31