Sacramento State is off to its best start in 20 years at 5-2, and its 3-1 Big Sky Conference record is the Hornets' best start to league play in school history. But are the good times about to end?
According to NCAA.org, the Hornets will face the toughest remaining schedule in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The brutal four-week slog starts Saturday at No. 1 Eastern Washington (5-1). Then the Hornets come home for Cal Poly (6-0) and Montana State (6-1) before finishing the season at UC Davis (3-4). That's a combined record of 20-6.
Comcast Hometown Network (Channel 104) will broadcast Saturday's game live at 4:05 p.m. The game will be the Hornets' first against a No. 1 FCS team since hosting Montana in 2007.
Eastern Washington defeated then-No. 2 Montana State 27-24 in Bozeman, Mont., last week to improve to 4-0 in the Big Sky.
"Each week, you have to get your team prepared whether they are ranked No. 1 in the nation or No. 100. It does not matter," Hornets coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "You focus on so many things that the opponent does that you don't have time to worry or think about those outside things like records and rankings because you can't control those things."
Eastern Washington leads the all-time series against Sac State 16-4, but the Hornets' four victories have come in Cheney, Wash.
Oddly, Sac State's first seven games ranked as the easiest in the FCS. But the NCAA rankings do not take into account the opponent's level, so a one-win Colorado Buffaloes squad ranks lower than a six-win team from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Saturday's game, though, will prove if the Hornets are a playoff-caliber team or one that feasted on a favorable early schedule.
Dome sweet dome? After beating Idaho State 52-45 last week at Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho, UC Davis will play in another dome, the Walkup Skydome, Saturday at No. 16 Northern Arizona.
It's believed to be the first time that UCD will play in a dome in consecutive weeks.
"We've played in a lot of domes over the years at North Dakota State, University of North Dakota, South Dakota and the University of Idaho," coach Bob Biggs said. "It was our first time indoors at Holt Arena, and it will be the first time at Northern Arizona.
"I think the players enjoy that atmosphere. The air is obviously dead other than the noise factor when you're on the road. I think it's a good experience for everybody, so we're looking forward to going there."
The Walkup Skydome seats 12,000, but why not play the game outside? The weather forecast for Flagstaff calls for temperatures in the low 70s with wind gusts between 10 to 13 mph and no chance of rain.
Aggies punter Colton Schmidt sure had fun at Holt Arena. While punting during Friday's walkthrough, the senior booted one ball so high that it got stuck in the roof supports. During the game, Schmidt had just one punt after the team's opening drive stalled. But on nine kickoffs he had nine touchbacks, including two that flew out of the back of the end zone. That's a kick of at least 75 yards.
Schmidt may want to put a few punts into the rafters at the Walkup Skydome rather than let Northern Arizona's Austin Shanks return one. He leads the FCS with a 33.1-yard average and has returned two for touchdowns.
The Aggies may need to punt often Saturday. No non-FBS opponent this season has rushed for more than 117 yards or thrown for more than 250 against the Lumberjacks.