SACRAMENTO STATE (3-4, 2-1 BIG SKY CONFERENCE) at NORTH DAKOTA (2-4, 1-2)
Where: Alenus Center When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Radio: 1380
North Dakota at a glance: UND was plagued by four turnovers, including an interception that was returned 77 yards for a touchdown that halted a potential game-tying drive in the second half of its 35-14 loss to No. 6 Eastern Washington last week. Freshman Joe Mollberg threw for a career-high 355 yards and is averaging 204.3 passing yards per game. North Dakota has three standout receivers in Greg Hardin, Kenny Golladay and Jameer Jackson. Hardin, a senior who also returns kickoffs, has 180 career catches for 3,022 yards and leads the Big Sky Conference in averaging 202 total yards per game. North Dakota, which plays in an indoor stadium, is a program without an official mascot. In 2012, after years of acrimony between the NCAA and the university, state residents voted overwhelmingly to dump North Dakota's Fighting Sioux moniker, an issue that has put its athletic teams at risk of NCAA sanctions and divided sports fans, alumni and even tribes. State law prevents the university from adopting a new name until 2015.
Hornets at a glance: Sacramento State will try to rebound from its disappointing 39-38 home loss to Northern Arizona, a game in which the Hornets led 38-21 in the third quarter. The Hornets, 12th in the Big Sky Conference in total defense, are looking for answers after allowing 619 total yards to the Lumberjacks. While quarterback Garrett Safron continues to produce impressive numbers (220 passing yards and a touchdown pass, and a career-high 110 rushing yards and a touchdown against Northern Arizona), he threw two interceptions, including one that led to the Lumberjacks' winning touchdown. Although Safron has 17 touchdown passes – 11 to DeAndre Carter – he also has thrown nine interceptions.
Series: North Dakota leads 2-0. North Dakota beat Sacramento State 31-0 in 1979, and in its first-ever Big Sky matchup last season, topped the Hornets 35-13 at Hornet Stadium.
– Bill Paterson