FOOTBALL CLOSES REGULAR SEASON WITH CAUSEWAY CLASSIC ON SATURDAY
A BRIEF PREVIEW
The Sacramento State football team will play its final regular season game of the year as it travels to UC Davis to face the Aggies in the 59th Causeway Classic on Saturday, Nov. 17. The game against the Aggies will kick off at 3:08 p.m.
There will be multiple ways to follow this week’s game. Hornet fans can tune in to Classic 93.1 FM and KAHI 950 AM in the foothills to hear the radio call of Jason Ross, Steve McElroy and Danny Sullivan. Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com and on the iHeart Radio application for mobile devices.
The game will be televised by Comcast SportsNet California. Roxy Bernstein (play-by-play), Mike Lamb (color) and Dan Dibley (sideline) will provide the commentary. The game will mark the fifth time this season that the Hornets have been on television.
Sacramento State fell to 6-4 on the season at 4-3 in Big Sky games with a 20-17 loss to then-No. 3 Montana State. The Hornets took their first lead of the game (17-13) with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter on Morris Norrise’s 76-yard touchdown reception. MSU answered with a fourth-quarter touchdown from Cody Kirk. The Sacramento State defense limited the Bobcats to just 275 yards while the offense posted 332 — the most allowed by MSU against a Big Sky opponent this season.
The game capped a three-game stretch which saw the Hornets play three teams all ranked in the top 11 at the time of the game. Sacramento State went 1-2 with a 35-29 victory over Cal Poly. The losses each were by three points and came against top-ranked Eastern Washington and MSU.
UC Davis is 3-7 overall and 2-5 in its first Big Sky season. The Aggies most recently lost at Eastern Washington, 31-28. UCD took control of the game in the first half behind a 22-point second quarter. However, the Eagles rallied and blocked Davis’ game-tying 52-yard field goal attempt with under a minute to play.
Junior quarterback Randy Wright leads the UCD passing attack with 222.9 passing yards per game. Wright has thrown for 12 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Five Aggies have caught at least 20 passes, led by Corey Galindo who has 31 grabs, including three touchdowns.
Jordan Glass and Byron Gruendl have recorded 71 and 70 tackles, respectively, to lead the team. The pair also have two interceptions each.
Marshall Sperbeck is in his sixth season as the head coach at Sacramento State. During that span, Sperbeck has produced a 30-35 overall record.
For the final time, UC Davis will be coached by Bob Biggs. The former Aggie quarterback will retire following the game, ending a 20-year run as the team’s head coach. During Biggs’ tenure, UC Davis has produced a 143-85-1 record. Prior to becoming head coach, Biggs was an assistant under Jim Sochor.
Sacramento State and UC Davis have met annually since 1954. UC Davis leads the all-time series, 41-18. The last four meetings have been split with the Hornets winning in 2008-09 and the Aggies in 2010-11. The last three meetings have been decided by four points or less.
CAUSEWAY CLASSIC QUICK FACTS
• Despite this being the 59th Casueway Classic, Saturday’s game will be the 60th meeting between the two schools. In 1988, the teams met twice, with Sacramento State winning in both the regular season (31-28) and the first round of the Div. II playoffs (35-13). The first of the those victories ended an 18-game losing streak against the Aggies.
• The game was not referred to as the Causeway Classic until 1983. Former Sacramento State SID Mike Duncan is credited with creating the moniker.
• The Causeway Classic has drawn 545,007 fans over the past 58 years. The two largest Sacramento State football crowds have come against UC Davis. In 1999, 20.993 attended the game while the 2001 contest drew 17,328.
• One thing is for sure for Sacramento State to have a chance to reach the FCS playoffs, the team has to win at UC Davis. The rest will be up to the committee.
• The 20-team FCS field consists of 10 automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large selections. The field will expand to 24 teams in 2013.
• The playoff field will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 10:30 a.m. on ESPNU.
• The Causeway Classic has been known to divide households in the Sacramento area. This is no exception for a couple of Hornets.
• Senior linebacker Jeff Badger’s father, Lance, played for UC Davis in 1985 and 1986. Badger was also a high school teammate of Aggie Randy Wright at Santa Rosa’s Cardinal Newman High School.
• Sacramento State head coach is the brother-in-law of former UC Davis and NFL quarterback Ken O’Brien. O’Brien began his collegiate career at Sacramento State before moving across the Causeway where he was a first round draft pick in the 1983 NFL Draft.
DEFENSE DOUBLES DOWN
• For the second consecutive week, the Sacramento State defense provided a stellar effort. A week after holding Cal Poly’s high-powered rushing attack in check, the Hornets limited Montana State to a season-low 275 yards on 68 plays.
• One constant theme throughout the year has been the team’s ability to get to the quarterback. This was no different against MSU, as Sacramento State matched its season high with five sacks.
• Those five sacks raised the season total to 32 in 10 games. The team’s average of 3.2 sacks per game ranks the Hornets fifth in the FCS.
• Sacramento State is now just one sack away from matching its Div. I-AA/FCS era record of 33 which came in 2004 and 2007. The school record for sacks is 53 which came in 1986.
PICK YOUR POISON
• Unlike the last two seasons where All-American Zack Nash dominated the pass rush for the Hornets, this year’s team total has come from several sources.
• Through the first 10 games, 14 different Sacramento State players have recorded a sack, including nine who have 2.0 or more.
• The team high of 4.5 belongs to senior defensive end Avery White. The fact that White is even playing for team is amazing. The Manteca, Calif., native suffered what was believed to be a career-ending injury in the season-opener at Stanford in 2010. He returned midway through last season.
• Junior defensive end Trent Eskew ranks second with 4.0 while linebacker Todd Davis has 3.5 sacks.
MOVING ON UP
• Behind a season-long 76-yard touchdown, junior Morris Norrise finished the Montana State game with a career-high 128 yards on five catches. The Berkeley, Calif., native leads the Hornets with 54 receptions for 727 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Norrise’s seven touchdowns place him in a 10-way tie for ninth place in school single season history.
• During an impressive freshman season, Norrise scored eight touchdowns, including seven during a five-game span. Last season, he led the team with 38 receptions and ranked second with 471 yards but did not score a touchdown.
• Norrise added a new wrinkle to his career at Idaho State, serving as the team’s punt returner in place of the injured DeAndre Carter. In two returns, Norrise compiled 57 yards, including a 44-yarder. He added a 41-yarder against Montana State. With 11 returns this year, Norrise is averaging 13.5 yards per return. If he met the NCAA minimum of 1.5 returns per game, Norrise would rank sixth in the FCS this season.
START TO FINISH
• Quarterback Garrett Safron began 2012 with back-to-back 300-yard seasons, including a win at Colorado. He is concluding the year much like he started, throwing for at least 250 yards in the last two games and wrapping up one of the best single seasons in school history.
• Against Cal Poly, Safron completed 31-of-38 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. The sophomore set career marks for completions, attempts and touchdowns en route to earning ROOT Sports Offensive Player of the Week.
• Safron’s completions were tied for third in school single-game history and were the most since Jason Smith also completed 31 passes against Montana in 2009. His four touchdown passes also rank third in school history and were the most since Jeff Fleming had five TD passes against Montana State in 2010.
• Against Montana State, Safron was 20-of-35 for 250 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
• On the year, he ranks third in school history in completions (209), fifth in attempts (316), tied for second in touchdowns (20), is seventh in yards (2,216) and will likely set the school record for completion percentage.
NICE FILL IN
• Junior Dijon Washington, once again, was in the starting lineup against Montana State in place of the injured Robert Beale. Washington made the most of his opportunity and led the team with a career high 13 tackles.
• The safety, who transferred from Nebraska during the spring, also tied his career high with six solo stops against the Bobcats.
• This season, Washington has 46 total tackles while appearing in all 10 games.
• Since moving to the FCS in 1993, Sacramento State has had five different linebackers earn All-America honors and 22 named all-Big Sky Conference. That list could expand following this season with the performances of Todd Davis and Jeff Badger.
• Davis enters the final game with a team-high 100 tackles. His total is the most by a Hornet since Zach Schrader had 103 tackles in 2009. The last linebacker to tally 100-plus tackles was Cyrus Mulitalo who had 120 in 2006.
• The Palmdale, Calif., native needs just five tackles to move into a tie for 10th place in school single-season history. He also moved into 10th place on the career list with 217 tackles.
• Badger ranks 15th with 199 career stops. The Windsor, Calif., native leads the team this season with three forced fumbles and also has two interceptions.
• Badger has started every game over the last three seasons and Saturday will mark the 44th game of his career. His first career start came at running back during his freshman season where he amassed 75 yards and a touchdown at Northern Colorado.
• Tight end T.J. Knowles has found a home in the end zone over the last four weeks. The senior has caught a touchdown pass in each game and now has five on the year.
• The five receiving touchdowns ranks second on the team — trailing only Norrise’s seven — and are the most by a Hornet tight end since Chris Kelly had six in 2009. That season, Kelly earned All-America and first team all-Big Sky Conference honors.
• On the year, the 6-foot-7 Knowles has caught 31 passes for 317 yards and is averaging 10.2 yards per catch. He has also been productive on third down as each of his six receptions have resulted in first downs or touchdowns.
• Knowles’ route to Sacramento State was a long one. After graduating from Coronado High School in Las Vegas, he attended West Texas A&M where he redshirted in 2008. He played the 2009 season at Saddleback JC and earned all-conference honors as a receiver. That performance led to a scholarship offer from South Florida where he caught three passes for 13 yards in 2011.
• Last season, his first with the Hornets, he caught one pass for 22 yards while appearing in five games.
• Aside from Davis and Badger, the other five leading tacklers for Sacramento State all play in the secondary. Senior safety Ryan McMahon ranks second on the team with 88 tackles and is just six tackles away from cracking the career top 20 at Sacramento State.
• Nickelback Markell Williams has at least seven tackles in each of the last four games and now ranks fourth on the team with 63 stops on the year. Included in that total are five tackles-for-loss, including 2.5 sacks, and an interception.
• Cornerback Osagie Odiase leads the Hornets with three interceptions and is tied for 10th in the Hornet record book with seven career picks. Odiase is fifth on the team this season with 62 tackles.
• Robert Beale and Washington have split time all season at safety. Washington is fifth on the team with 46 stops while Beale ranks seventh with 35. The pair have combined for 81 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, from the position.
EVERYONE GETS A TURN
• Twelve Hornets have caught at least one pass this season, including 11 who have seven or more receptions. The 11 players to catch at least seven passes is the most in a single season since Sacramento State moved to Div. I-AA/FCS in 1993.
• Stephen F. Austin, which leads the FCS in passing offense, Murray State and UC Davis are the only other FCS teams to have 11 players record seven grabs this year.
• Marshall leads all Div. I schools with 14 players to hit the mark.
BIG SKY NOTES
• The Big Sky Conference ROOT SPORTS Offensive Player of the Week was Northern Colorado quarterback Seth Lobato who threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Weber State.
• Southern Utah safety Tommy Collet, Jr., Montana State defensive lineman Caleb Schreibeis and Cal Poly linebacker Kennith Jackson shared the defensive honor.
• Montana State returner Shawn Johnson was the Special Teams Player of the Week after a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown.