One team returns home, eager to bounce back. The other has a bye week to recover and regroup.
UC Davis on Saturday at 1 p.m. will host Montana in a meeting to Top 20 FCS programs while Sacramento State is off after a 34-20 loss at Fresno State and opens Big Sky Conference action at Hornet Stadium on Oct. 5 against Eastern Washington.
No. 4 UCD (2-2) is coming off a 27-16 loss at FCS No. 1 North Dakota State in Fargo.
The Aggies were pained by the loss, which was closer than the score indicated, but consider the opponent. The Bison have plowed over 25 consecutive teams and have dominated the decade with seven FCS national championships.
Montana used to be that sort of FCS powerhouse and the Grizzlies are still formidable, ranked No. 18 with a 3-1 record, losing to Oregon 35-3. UCD opened with a 27-13 loss at Cal, now 4-0 and ranked 15th nationally in the FBS AP Top 25 poll.
“We’ve had a couple days to watch (UCD), and they’re deserving of every bit of their national ranking,” Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. “I think they are a really, really terrific football team who absolutely handled us last year, and you couple that with the fact that they have most of their team back, it’s a tall order to try to go get a win down there.”
UCD beat Montana in Missoula a year ago, rallying from 21-3 down to prevail 49-21 for its first win over the Grizzlies in eight tries. Saturday figures to be another entertaining Big Sky contest with star quarterbacks.
Jake Maier dazzled against Montana last season for UCD and he was strong at North Dakota State last week, passing for 312 yards. That was his 18th 300-yard passing game with UCD as a three-year starter, breaking the Aggies mark held by J.T. O’Sullivan, ending in 2001.
UCD outgained North Dakota State 422-354 and held the Bison 118 yards short of their weekly rushing average.
UCD tight end Wes Preece caught UCD’s lone touchdown, a 17-yarder, giving him 20 for his career. He is two TDs shy of tying Randy Williams for fifth on the program’s career list.
Maier has 67 career touchdown passes, two shy of passing Kevin Daft (1995-98) for second on UCD’s all-time list.
Montana seeks its ongoing FCS-record 24th playoff berth, having reached seven title games since 1995, winning it in 1995 and 2001.
Dalton Sneed passed for 334 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-27 win over Monmouth last week. Malik Flowers had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score, the longest for Montana since Damon Boddie (a Cordova High star) went 99 yards at Idaho in 1993.
Sacramento State football beats odds
Sac State (2-2) isn’t in this for style points, but it is interesting to note that the Hornets’ two losses were to teams heavily favored to roll.
The Hornets were 37-point underdogs at Arizona State and battled the Sun Devils in a 19-7 loss. Last week, Fresno State was favored by 24.5 points on the betting lines and won by 14.
Joked Sac State coach Troy Taylor before the game about the point spread difference with ASU and Fresno State, “We’re getting better!”
Sac State was within five of Fresno State in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs pulled away. Kevin Thomson passed for 233 yards for the Hornets, who rushed for just nine yards.
“Our guys competed,” Taylor said afterward. “This team is resilient, and I think we’ve proven that in the first four games. Each week, we just get better. We’ll try to get some guys healthy, get a little rest and start getting ready for Eastern Washington.”
And the Sac State athletics department is a bit richer for the two FBS contests, taking home checks that combined for nearly $1 million.
FCS rankings love the Big Sky
The Big Sky is deemed the top FCS conference in the land, with No. 5 UCD, No. 6 Weber State, No. 11 Montana State, No. 17 Montana, No. 21 Eastern Washington and No. 25 North Dakota, with Northern Arizona and Sac State also receiving votes.
Sacramento-area junior colleges
American River College lost 42-10 at San Mateo on Saturday and also took a hit in the state rankings, falling six spots to No. 11 in the JC Athletic Bureau poll compiled by Fred Baer.
San Mateo is No. 2 in the state behind Riverside. ARC hosts No. 4 Modesto (3-0) on Saturday.
After opening with losses of 27-0 to ARC and 47-0 to San Francisco, Sacramento City beat Diablo Valley 13-10, rallying from 10-0 down with fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 5 and 8 yards by Tyrone Roper.
Sac City had six sacks. It plays at Shasta on Saturday.
Sierra won its first game after an 0-2 start, racing past West Hills 69-32 as Graylon Lindsey rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns, and Preston Eklund passed for 275 yards and four scores, including a 33-yarder to Lindsey.
Sierra vists Diabla Valley on Saturday and hosts Sac City on Oct. 5.