Colorado State Football: First Look At The Sacramento State Hornets
The Rams will wrap up non-conference play by hosting FCS Sacramento State in late September.
Another big FCS test.
Colorado State Football: First Look at 2022 Non-Conference Opponents
The Colorado State Rams will host Sacramento State in Week 4 to close out its non-conference schedule, a bigger test of how the team has remade itself than it might appear at first glance.
That’s because, for the second year in a row, the Rams will host a pretty good FCS conferences champion in the Hornets, and last year’s disaster against South Dakota State may be fresh in some fans’ minds. Will the best team in the Big Sky cause problems where FBS opponents may not?
Location: Sacramento, California
Conference: Big Sky
Series History: CSU leads the all-time series 1-0. The Rams beat Sacramento State 23-20 in 2008 in their lone previous matchup.
2021 Record: 9-3 (8-0 Big Sky)
Head Coach: Troy Taylor (fifth year at Sacramento State, 18-7 overall). The Hornets had often been more of a forgettable FCS program than anything before Taylor’s arrival from Utah, but other than seeing COVID wipe out 2020 the program is in the midst of perhaps its best stretch ever. In his first year, 2019, Taylor’s Hornets clinched a share of the Big Sky title for the first time; two years later, Sacramento State won it outright, doing so for the first time since winning the defunct American West in 1995.
Jake Dunniway, QB
The throwing QB of the split quarterback duo. Dunniway averaged nine yards per attempt last season. He also set a school record for passing yards against an FBS opponent with 370 yards against Cal last season. When Dunniway is in, the secondary needs to be on watch.
Asher O’Hara, QB
The running QB of the split quarterback duo. O’Hara led the Hornets in rushing last year with 662 yards on the ground and nine scores. He’s a true dual threat QB as he threw for 899 yards and seven touchdowns last year. When O’Hara is on the field, the entire defense needs to be alert.
Marshel Martin, TE
Martin is a do it all type of Tight End and is one of the most athletic players on the roster. He was a running back in high school so you know he can run. Martin has 13 career touchdown catches to go along with a 13 yards per catch average. He is one player that everyone needs to know when he is on the field.
Pierre Williams, WR
The deep receiving threat for the Hornets, Williams had a caught pass of 25 yards or longer in five games last season. Williams has a nose for the ball, as he had a streak of 29 consecutive games. The Rams will need to play lockdown coverage against Williams.
Marte Mapu, NB
The Ballhawk. The true senior returns to the field with higher aims. Mapu and the rest of the secondary know their on an island and they have stepped up to that calling. Caly Millen and the rest of the Rams offense will need to know where Mapu is on the field at all times.
A balanced top 10 offense from last year that can keep anybody on their toes is a challenge for anybody, let alone a team rolling in a new coaching staff. But the Rams are aware and ready to step up to the challenge. Dunniway and O’Hara look to split time again leading the team.
After O’Hara the Hornets like to go running back by commitee as they had three running backs each with at least 55 carries last year. Watch out for Cameron Skattebo as he was the main rushing threat after O’Hara. Skattebo had 520 rushing yards and six touchdowns to go along with a 9.1 yard per rush average.
With mostly their entire offense returning from last season and not being picked to win their conference, the Hornets are on a mission to prove everyone wrong. They have had struggles getting over the hump in the playoffs and believe this is the year they finally get over it.
A top 25 FCS defense from last season that loses five of their top seven contributors. Only 7.5 sacks and 8 interceptions remain from last season. Mapu and Abel Ordaz are the leaders in the secondary. But watch for Cameron Broussard as well. The sophomore had a nice freshman season that he looks to build on.
The front seven is going to be the question for the Hornets this season. Can the Rams produce results before they get in sync? They need to in order to get on a roll. This unit will not go down easy and wants that elusive playoff victory as badly as the offense does.
This is another dangerous FCS matchup for Colorado State. A potent offense and stingy defense is good at all levels. Hero Sports picked this as the second most likely FCS over FBS upset of the season. The Rams have to play a complete game against the Hornets. This is game four, so some kinks should be worked in the air raid offense and Freddie Banks’ 4-2-5 defense. But this one will probably be closer than Rams fans want.
Colorado State 35, Sac State 31