SCC comes out swinging in win

Miles Meadows (above) was tagged out on a steal attempt Thursday afternoon, but little else went wrong for Solano Community College in a 13-3 victory over Marin. The Falcons evened the three-game series against the Mariners with the rubber match on Friday in Kentfield.

Solano is 13-4 in the Bay Valley Conference and trails Marin by one game for second place. Los Medanos sits atop the conference at 14-2 with both losses coming against Solano. The Falcons will finish the regular season next week with a three-game series against Napa Valley. Solano will be the home team Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and Friday at 1 p.m.

The Falcons scored five runs in the third inning and six in the fifth Thursday to make life much easier for Mateo Santos, who allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out eight in seven innings. The Bethel High product improved his record to 6-2 and moved into a tie with Peyton Czekalewski for the team lead in victories.

Solano designated hitter Connor Ross had three hits, including a two-run homer, The Napa High product ranks second in the BVC and fifth in the state with a .434 batting average. He also leads the Falcons in RBI with 47 and runs scored with 42.

Gregory Ryan

Three’s company at Sac State

Carson Camp started the 2023 season at quarterback for Sacramento State and finished it Saturday in a stadium he once called home. The junior transfer from South Dakota returned to Grand Forks for a second-round FCS playoff game and did all he could to spark the Hornets, but his effort was not enough in a 34-24 loss to his former team.

Camp made just his fourth appearance of the season after Kaiden Bennett was injured and exited in the second quarter. Turnabout must be fair play because Bennett replaced Camp in the second quarter of the Aug. 31 opener at Nicholls State. Camp was pulled after struggling in his debut with the Hornets and Bennett came to the rescue.

Carson Camp made a case to start in 2024 with a solid relief effort in Sacramento State’s loss to South Dakota on Saturday.

Bennett made a case to become the starter by throwing for two touchdowns and running for a third in a 38-24 victory. His first start came a week later in a 34-6 win over Texas A&M-Commerce and Bennett again delivered, throwing for 176 yards and rushing for 101. His two touchdown runs propelled the Hornets to a 24-0 lead at halftime.

His second start was even better. Bennett threw for 279 yards and ran for 100 in a 30-23 victory at Stanford. His footwork went beyond his 13 carries. Bennett scrambled out of a sack and flipped a pass to running back Marcus Fulcher, who did the rest for a 49-yard touchdown with 1:32 to play.

The spotlight shifted to Carson Conklin, however, after the true freshman relieved Bennett in a 51-16 victory at Idaho State on Oct. 28. Conklin threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns to put himself in line for more playing time. Conklin made his first start Nov. 11 in a 41-30 win over Cal Poly and rewarded the coaches for putting their faith in him.

Some folks will say the Hornets were not risking that much by going with Conklin because the Mustangs were 1-5 in the Big Sky Conference. The game was much closer than expected, so Conklin made the difference by passing for 313 yards and three touchdowns.

Conklin did not come close to those numbers against UC Davis in the Causeway Classic on Nov. 18. He got the hook at halftime with the Aggies leading 17-0 after going 13-of-25 for 137 yards. Bennett completed 19 of 28 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as the Hornets salvaged a smidgen of pride.

Bennett was incredible in a 42-35 win at North Dakota in the first round of the playoffs, accounting for three touchdowns with 333 yards of total offense. His injury Saturday might have had a silver lining because the offense was in need of a jump-start. The first four possessions ended in two punts, an interception and a fumble that South Dakota returned for a touchdown to take a 17-0 lead.

Camp provided it on the ensuing possession by throwing for 36 yards and running for 24 as the Hornets drove 75 yards to score their first touchdown with 9:31 to play in the second quarter. His effort did not rescue the Hornets, but it makes for quite a quarterback battle when the Hornets reconvene to prepare for the 2024 season.

The Hornets essentially had two starting quarterbacks the past two seasons with Jake Dunniway and Asher O’Hara. Now let’s see if they can juggle three.

Hornets try to stretch season

Sacramento State has not reached the end of the road, but the Hornets are facing a familiar pothole. Saturday’s 42-35 victory at North Dakota earned the Hornets a second game in the FCS playoffs for the third time since 2019, but they have yet to play a third game.

The Hornets will return to the Midwest for that second game this week and face third-seeded South Dakota in Vermillion. The Coyotes are 9-2 and rallied at home to beat North Dakota 14-10 on Nov. 11. Sacramento State and South Dakota will meet for the first time.

This season has not been like the past two for the Hornets. They brought an eight-game winning streak in the 2021 playoffs to earn a first-round bye and then lost to South Dakota State. They were 12-0 last year after a first-round win over Richmond and then lost 66-63 to Incarnate Word. The Hornets and Cardinals combined for 57 points in the fourth quarter.

Kaiden Bennett threw for 207 yards and rushed for 126 on Saturday to propel the Hornets to a 42-35 victory at North Dakota.

Sacramento State was lucky just to make the 24-team playoffs this season, much less receive a bye or a home game, after going 7-4 in the regular season and losing 31-21 to UC Davis in the Causeway Classic. That left the Hornets with a 1,743-mile trip to Grand Forks.

Finding their way to the Alterus Center was far easier than trying to figure out who would start at quarterback against the Fighting Hawks. Freshman Carson Conklin started the previous two games, but he was pulled at halftime against UC Davis with a 17-0 deficit.

Junior Kaiden Bennett threw three touchdown passes in the second half, the third making it 24-14 with 5:45 to play. The Hornets gambled on their next possession by going for it on fourth-and-12 at their 18-yard line, but Bennett’s pass intended for wide receiver Carlos Hill fell incomplete.

Lan Larison scored on a 12-yard run with 3:30 remaining for his fourth touchdown of the day to put the game away. The Aggies snapped a three-game losing streak against the Hornets.

Bennett’s start Saturday was his ninth of the season and he made the most of it. The Folsom High School graduate passed for 207 yards, ran for 126 and accounted for three touchdowns. The third was a 4-yard scamper for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:45 to go.

Tight end Marshel Martin IV wrapped his arms around Bennett at the 2-yard line and pulled him into the end zone. Bennett accounted for 63 of 75 yards during the seven-play drive by completing all of his three passes for 40 yards and gaining 23 on three carries.

Bennett has run for 100 or more yards in three games this season. He surpassed senior Marcus Fulcher on Saturday for the team lead in rushing yards with 578. Fulcher has 527.

Days numbered for ex-Viking

This is not how Armon Bailey envisioned his football career at Sacramento State coming to an end. The 2018 Vanden High School graduate expected the Hornets to beat UC Davis in the Causeway Classic, win the Big Sky Conference and host an FCS playoff game.

Bailey had every reason to believe the Hornets could achieve all three. Sacramento State beat UC Davis and won or shared the Big Sky championship in each of the past three seasons. And the Hornets began each of their three playoff appearances with a home game.

UC Davis running back Lan Larison could not get away from Sacramento State’s Armon Bailey on this play in the Causeway Classic.

Two out of three would have been fine with Bailey. One out of three would have been acceptable – especially if that one was another victory over the Aggies. Going 0-3 left the linebacker to wonder how a season with so much promise fell short of his expectations.

At least the Hornets are in the playoffs. Sacramento will face North Dakota in Grand Forks on Saturday. The Hornets are 2-4 against the Fighting Hawks, but Sacramento State won in each of its past two visits, most recently in 2017. Bailey had seven tackles when the Hornets lost 41-15 at home to North Dakota in 2018.

UC Davis was left out of the playoffs despite a 31-21 win over Sacramento State last week to finish 5-3 in the Big Sky. The Hornets were 4-4 and would have also been snubbed if not for their 30-23 win against their former coach, Troy Taylor, at Stanford on Sept. 16.

Sacramento State also received credit for three of its four Big Sky losses coming against ranked FCS teams – Montana, Idaho and Montana State. UC Davis did not play Montana State or Idaho. The Aggies lost to Montana, Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington.

Armon Bailey leads the Hornets in tackles with 82 as a senior.

Falling to 0-11 against Eastern Washington cost UC Davis after the Eagles finished 3-5. The Aggies would not have merited any consideration if they had lost to Sacramento State. Bailey did all he could to prevent that by leading the Hornets in tackles with nine.

“For me personally, it really sucked. I didn’t want to go out on that kind of note,” said Bailey, who had eight or more tackles in seven games this season. Bailey leads the Hornets in tackles for the second consecutive year with 82. He had 88 as a junior in 2022.

Marte Mapu finished second to Bailey in tackles last season with 76. Mapu was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and the New England Patriots selected him in the third round of the 2023 NFL draft. He now starts at linebacker for the Patriots.

The 23-year-old Bailey believes Mapu has paved a path for other Hornets to have an opportunity to play in the NFL. One such player for the 2024 draft is Bailey, who is a two-time All-Big Sky selection after missing a total of 13 games in 2019 and 2021 with injuries.

As a “humble kid,” Bailey will not come out and say he believes he deserves a shot. As a “resilient guy,” he would welcome the challenge of proving he can compete against the elite.

“I feel like it’s right around the corner,” said Bailey, who has earned a degree in criminal justice and is thinking of applying for law school. “Everything is starting to fall into place.”

Insider information for Hornets

Sacramento State has not played North Dakota since 2019, but the Hornets will know all about the Fighting Hawks before the teams tangle in the FCS playoffs Saturday in Grand Forks. Sacramento State happens to have an inside source with an updated scouting report.

And the Hornets need all the help they can get after losing 31-21 to UC Davis in the Causeway Classic on Saturday. Sacramento State was among the last four teams to get into the playoffs when the 24-team bracket was announced Sunday despite being ranked 10th in the latest FCS poll. UC Davis was among the final four teams to be snubbed.

Quarterback Carson Camp may be of assistance for Sacramento State because he faced North Dakota in 2021 when he was starting for South Dakota. And he led the Coyotes to a 20-13 victory by throwing for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Camp lost the starting job in 2022, however, and jumped into the transfer portal.

UC Davis linebacker Nick Eaton only has eyes for Sacramento State’s Carson Conklin.

Sacramento State was the ideal place for a quarterback trying to resurrect his college career. The Hornets were in need of a starter after the tag team of Jake Dunniway and Asher O’Hara guided Sacramento State to consecutive Big Sky Conference championships.

Kaiden Bennett was the heir apparent after paying his dues for two years. Camp won the job, however, and started the season opener at Nicholls State. His 26-yard run was the big play during the Hornets’ first possession as they drove 75 yards to take a 7-0 lead.

Bennett split time with Camp and made his case to become the starter. Bennett completed 11 of 16 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Camp was 5-of-11 for 35 yards and threw an interception in the third quarter that Nicholls State turned into a touchdown.

That score cut Sacramento State’s lead to 17-10. Bennett regained momentum for the Hornets with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Jared Gipson with 58 seconds to go in the quarter. Bennett started the following week against Texas A&M-Commerce, led Sacramento State to a 30-23 win at Stanford on Sept. 16 and held the job for the next six games.

Camp dropped to third on the depth chart when freshman Carson Conklin started over Bennett against Cal Poly on Nov. 11. Conklin earned the start by throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns after relieving Bennett in the Hornets’ 51-16 win over Idaho State.

Conklin passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns in the 41-30 victory over Cal Poly. The Hornets had more trouble putting the Mustangs away than UC Davis did in beating Cal Poly 31-13 on Sept. 30. The Aggies were in cruise control after leading 24-7 at halftime.

UC Davis also had a 17-point halftime lead against Sacramento State. Conklin’s day ended at the half with a 17-0 deficit. He was 13-of-25 for 129 yards and his last pass was intercepted by UC Davis linebacker Teddye Buchanan with 52 seconds to go in the half.

Bennett gave Sacramento State a bit of hope in the second half by throwing for 232 yards and three touchdowns. His performance leaves the Hornets with having to decide who will start against North Dakota. The safe bet is it will not be Camp.

Playing it safe can be risky

Hunter Ridley kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired in the first half Nov. 4 to give UC Davis a 17-7 lead against Portland State. The Aggies launched the 13-play, 75-yard drive with 5:26 to go and had three timeouts, so a touchdown was hardly out of question.

UC Davis coach Dan Hawkins answered that question, however, after running back Lan Larison was stopped for a 3-yard loss on first down at the Aggies’ 33-yard line. Hawkins let 27 seconds tick away by not calling a timeout as soon as Larison hit the synthetic turf.

Junior Trent Tompkins leads UC Davis in receiving yards and is second in rushing.

By the time Hawkins called his first timeout with 2 seconds remaining, UC Davis had wasted nearly 3 minutes by not stopping the clock. Portland State tied the score with 10 points in the third quarter when UC Davis could have entered the fourth with a lead.

All of that was easy to dismiss after UC Davis won 37-23. Hawkins got away with playing it safe in a game the Aggies had to win to stand any chance of making the FCS playoffs. UC Davis kept its postseason hopes alive last Saturday with a 21-14 victory at Idaho State.

Sacramento State, Montana, Montana State and Idaho are assured of representing the Big Sky Conference in the playoffs by having seven victories and being ranked in the FCS Top 25. UC Davis is 6-4 and unranked, so the Aggies have one objective Saturday afternoon.

Sacramento State’s Josh Cashiola sacks Portland State’s Sam Huard.

UC Davis will have to snap a three-game losing streak against Sacramento State in the Causeway Classic to have any shot of making the 24-team playoffs. With so much on the line for the Aggies, Hawkins cannot afford to play it safe as he did with Portland State.

Doing so against the Hornets last season did not work. One example was in the second quarter after a punt pinned the Aggies as their 14-yard line. A 1-yard run, a 2-yard pass and an incompletion forced a punt that gave the ball to the Hornets at the 50. Two passes for 31 yards led to a 19-yard touchdown run by Asher O’Hara to give the Hornets a 17-3 lead. Sacramento State never trailed in a 27-21 win.

In 2021, UC Davis was shut out in the first three quarters of a 27-7 loss. The Aggies scored first in 2019 on Jake Maier’s 76-yard touchdown pass to Kris Vaughn and took a 17-13 lead into the fourth quarter. Kevin Thomson rallied the Hornets with a 51-yard touchdown pass to freshman Marshel Martin IV and a 33-yard scoring run with 3:04 to play.

UC Davis will face Martin, who hails from St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, for the last time on Saturday. The senior had a 39-yard touchdown reception last Saturday in a 41-30 victory over Cal Poly. The score was his second of the season. Martin had 12 in 2022.

Hornets can slow Aggies’ roll

Troy Taylor certainly had a hand in Sacramento State flipping the script against UC Davis in the Causeway Classic. The Hornets are 3-0 against the Aggies since 2019, when Taylor returned home to resurrect a program that had been 4-15 in the rivalry since 2000.

Credit should also go to Andy Thompson, who was hired by Taylor as the defensive coordinator and continues to direct the defense in his first season as head coach. He knows what it takes to stop the Aggies and will likely stick with that strategy on Saturday.

Ulonzo Gilliam averaged 42 rushing yards in his last three games against Sacramento State.

Forcing UC Davis to abandon its running game will again be the key for Sacramento State. The Aggies must win to stand any chance of making the FCS playoffs and a one-dimensional offense is not going to bolster their chances of doing so.

UC Davis rushed for more than 80 yards just once in its past three meetings with Sacramento State. That one time was last Nov. 19, when the Aggies had 113 yards on the ground in a 27-21 loss. They averaged 203 yards in their other 10 games.

Sacramento State limited UC Davis to 73 rushing yards in 2021 and 63 in 2019. The Hornets opted not to play in the spring of 2021 after COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season. UC Davis managed just one rushing touchdown in losing the past three meetings.

Ulonzo Gilliam left UC Davis after last season as the program’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,617), touchdowns (51) and 100-yard games (22). He reached the century mark just once against Sacramento State, gaining 138 in the Aggies’ 56-13 victory in 2018.

That was the year when UC Davis shared the Big Sky Conference championship and advanced to the FCS playoffs for the first time. That was also a year before Taylor and Thompson were hired at Sacramento State to breathe new life into a morbid program.

Gilliam’s 138 yards in 2018 were 10 more than his total in his last three shots at Sacramento State. He managed just 61 yards in a 27-17 loss four years ago, 17 in a 27-7 loss in 2021 and 50 in a 27-21 loss in 2022. At least he reached the end zone in last year’s game.

Lan Larison

Lan Larison has been a frequent visitor to the end zone for UC Davis in 2023. And the junior could be just what the Aggies need to turn the Causeway Classic tide in their favor after being named Monday as the Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Week.

Larison rushed for 264 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-14 win at Idaho State. The Idaho native dashed 23 yards for the go-ahead score with 2:05 to play in a do-or-die game. Larison rushed for 255 yards against Eastern Washington on Sept. 23, but he sustained a knee injury in the second half and missed three games.

UC Davis faces another must-win game on Saturday against Sacramento State, which climbed to No. 10 in the FCS rankings this week. The Aggies and Hornets are both 4-3 in the Big Sky, but Sacramento State has the magic playoff number with seven victories.

Sacramento State will be joined by Montana (9-1), Montana State (8-2) and Idaho (7-3) in the 24-team playoffs. UC Davis could qualify with six wins, but a seventh would be nice.

The latest playoff projections by the College Sports Journal have UC Davis at No. 17 against No. 16 Central Arkansas and Sacramento State at No. 14 against No. 19 Holy Cross. That would give the Hornets a home playoff game for the third time in the past three full seasons.

Bulldogs run out of time again

Time turned its back on Vacaville High School Friday night in Stockton. A 38-point deficit in the third quarter took care of that, making the scoreboard operator’s job much easier because he no longer had to stop the clock with St. Mary’s on its way to a lopsided win.

The agony of such a defeat was nothing new for the Bulldogs and their supporters. Vacaville’s time in the 2022 Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs was also cut short in a 42-0 loss to Manteca. The Bulldogs are 6-10 in the postseason with just one semifinal appearance in the past 12 seasons.

There is always next season, but is there any reason to believe the Bulldogs will fare much better after losing several key seniors? And to think the junior varsity team’s 10-0 finish this season will bode for a brighter future for the varsity squad is a bit of a reach.

On top of all that, Vacaville finished second in the Monticello Empire League for the first time since the MEL was realigned in 2017 after Napa and Vintage departed. The 2023 season ended abruptly with the Bulldogs having nothing to show for all their perseverance.

The varsity team ruled the roost in the MEL for six seasons even when the junior varsity did not follow suit. And replacing the likes of Cristian Diosdado, Massimo Menicou, Mills Sweany, Jemeir Buckner and Justin Albrecht could very well be a mission impossible.

Folks in Vacaville chuckled in 2021 when Vanden won the 3-AA state title because the Bulldogs pounded the Vikings 35-17. Vanden snapped Vacaville’s 28-game MEL winning streak on Oct. 6 with a 24-9 victory at Tom Zunino Stadium. The Vikings pulled off the upset with junior quarterback Kalani Mcleod throwing for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

Mcleod will return in 2024 with an opportunity to become a two-time MEL Player of the Year. Will C. Wood will also be set at quarterback with Kimani Dokes coming back as a junior. Dokes threw for 1,400 yards and rushed for 647 in his first season with the Wildcats.

Quarterback is just one of several positions the Bulldogs will have to fill. The MEL will change again when two schools (Armijo and Fairfield) leave in 2024 and three (Pioneer, River City and Sacramento) arrive. Sacramento and Pioneer made the playoffs this season in Divisions IV and V, respectively. Both teams were knocked out Friday night.

For the Bulldogs to dismiss those teams because they qualified in lower divisions would be a mistake. Vacaville fans should have learned the lesson after mocking Vanden in 2021.

Father knows best? We’ll see

Cody Hawkins had it made at UC Davis. Job security would be his as long as his father Dan was the head honcho. Hawkins joined his father’s staff in 2017 as a volunteer assistant to help out with the wide receivers, so no one could accuse his father of favoritism.

That changed in 2019 when Hawkins was named assistant director of football operations and recruiting coordinator – a job apparently intended for him when his father created it. Hawkins was promoted again in 2020 when he was named offensive coordinator.

Cody Hawkins wore orange as offensive coordinator at UC Davis so the players could easily spot him on the sideline. He now wears it as head coach at Idaho State.

How could Hawkins have asked for anything more at the ripe age of 32? He was directing an offense featuring players he had talked into playing at UC Davis. The Aggies went from averaging 28.3 points per game in his first season of calling plays to 35.9 in 2022.

UC Davis is averaging just 25.7 points per game this season, but Hawkins is not to blame. He left UC Davis last December to become Idaho State’s head coach. The Bengals are averaging 27.7 points a game and led all FCS teams in passing yards per game at 338.2.

Hawkins inherited a team that went 1-7 in the Big Sky Conference and 1-10 overall in 2022. Idaho State is 3-3 in the Big Sky this season. So is UC Davis, which is 5-4 overall and will have to win its final two games to stand any chance of earning a spot in the FCS playoffs.

That means Hawkins can knock his father’s team out of contention when Idaho State and UC Davis tangle Saturday in Pocatello. The Bengals are 1-6 against the Aggies, but Idaho State has a 42-41 win over Eastern Washington on Oct. 14 in its favor. UC Davis lost 27-24 to Eastern Washington on Sept. 23, leaving the Aggies at 0-11 against the Eagles.

Eastern Washington had won 12 in a row against Idaho State before squandering a 27-point lead Oct. 14. The Bengals trailed 41-14 with 1:48 to go in the third quarter, then scored 62 seconds later and three times in the fourth quarter to pull off an improbable victory.

Sacramento State is also 3-3 in the Big Sky, but the Hornets control their destiny because they are 6-3 overall and can virtually clinch a playoff berth Saturday at home by beating 1-5 Cal Poly. The Mustangs lost 48-13 to Eastern Washington in Cheney last Saturday.

Larison’s return fuels Aggies

Lan Larison celebrates with Jake Parks (60), Peter Povey (63) and Jordan Ford after scoring the Aggies’ first touchdown on Saturday.

Every college football team has a trick play in which a running back attempts to throw a pass. Lan Larison has throw six passes for UC Davis, completing three for 38 yards. Those paltry numbers do not strike fear in opposing defenses, but they know better than to ignore the junior.

Larison played quarterback at Vallivue High School in Caldwell, Idaho, where he attracted attention for his running prowess. His statistics as a senior in 2018 bear that out. Larison rushed for 2,373 yards and 27 touchdowns. In his spare time, Larison passed for 788 yards and nine touchdowns.

UC Davis made it clear when Larison arrived in 2020 that there would be little chance he would ever play quarterback. There was always the possibility of Larison throwing the ball on a trick play. And that led to a trick play in which Larison acts as if he will throw and then tucks the ball away to run.

That very play produced the Aggies’ first touchdown in Saturday’s 37-23 victory over Portland State. Larison was aligned behind quarterback Miles Hastings on second-and-goal at the 4-yard line. Hastings went in motion to the left, leaving Larison to take a direct snap. Larison cocked his right arm as if to pass and then bolted untouched to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

Larison had only just begun. He ran for two more touchdowns for the first hat trick of his career. He also had his second consecutive 100-yard game by running for 136 on 25 carries. Larison carried the ball 49 times in those two games after missing three games with an injured right knee.

Lan Larison is upended by Portland State’s Michael Hurst.

The injury occurred in the third quarter of the 27-24 loss to Eastern Washington on Sept. 23. Larison’s departure likely cost the Aggies a shot at beating the Eagles for the first time in 11 meetings. He left after gaining 54 yards on nine carries to fuel a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that put the Aggies ahead at 24-20 with 6:24 remaining in the third quarter.

A 300-yard game was well within Larison’s reach after he finished with 255 yards on 22 carries, including a 78-yard touchdown dash in the second quarter. Mike Ichiyama is the only UC Davis player to rush for 300 yards in a game, doing so in 1994 against San Francisco State and Chico State .

Larison leads the Big Sky Conference by averaging 119.3 rushing yards per game. He ranks third in rushing yards (716) despite missing three games. Larison ran for 416 yards in 2022 as the understudy to senior Ulonzo Gilliam, who graduated as the Aggies’ all-time leading rusher with 4,364 yards.

UC Davis will need Larison to be at his best to stand any chance of making the FCS playoffs. The Aggies are 5-4 with two games to go and it usually takes seven victories to earn a postseason ticket. UC Davis and Sacramento State are among the six teams tied for fourth place in the Big Sky at 3-3.

Montana State, Montana and Idaho share first place at 5-1. Montana rolled past Sacramento State 34-7 on Saturday night in Missoula. The Grizzlies became the first team since Arizona State in 2019 to shut out the Hornets in three quarters of a game. Sacramento State is 6-3 and will likely get to seven wins when it faces Cal Poly (3-6) next Saturday at Hornet Stadium.

The Causeway Classic on Nov. 18 at UC Davis Health Stadium could very well determine whether UC Davis or Sacramento State makes the playoffs. The Hornets have advanced to the postseason in each of the past three full seasons. Sacramento State did not play when the 2020 season was wiped out by COVID-19 and turned into five games in the spring of 2021.