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FCS Game of the Week Preview: No. 15 Sacramento State vs. No. 5 Montana

Only one of these teams will move to 3-0 in Big Sky play

NCAA Football: Montana at Oregon Rob Kerr-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: Saturday, October 19, 2019, 9 p.m. ET

Location: Hornet Stadium, Sacramento, California

How To Watch: Pluto TV

Betting Odds: Montana -2.5, O/U 62

Two of the best offenses in the country will be vying for Big Sky supremacy on

Saturday night when the Sacramento State Hornets host the Montana Grizzlies.

Sacramento State is ranked for the first time since 2011, and that was the only

time in the school’s history that it was able to knock off Montana. The Grizzlies

are 20-1 against the Hornets all-time, so a Sacramento State win would be


UNLV fans can take a keen interest in this game too as former head coach

Bobby Hauck is now in charge of Montana, and he brought in former Rebels’

quarterback Dalton Sneed to run his offense. In an interesting twist, another

former UNLV recruit, Kevin Thomson, is at the helm of Sacramento State’s

offense, making this a relatively cordial affair for such an important game.

Reasons to Like Montana

Hauck is set to make Montana a power again. He first rose to prominence as the

coach of the Grizzlies from 2003 to 2009, taking his team to the FCS Playoffs

every time. They never won an FCS championship, but they finished runner-up

three times, and he was the obvious choice to be the head coach after the school

parted ways with Bob Stitt.

Montana went 6-5 and missed the playoffs in his first season back in Missoula,

but the Grizz have one of the top offenses in the nation this year and are set to

make a return. This team’s only loss of the year was against Oregon, and the

Grizzlies have won their other five games by at least two touchdowns.

Sneed has had an excellent season, completing 67.9 percent of his passes, and

he is averaging 313.2 YPG through the air. He has limited his turnovers with 15

touchdowns against four interceptions, making this the fourth-best scoring

offense in the country with 41 PPG. The Grizzlies have the fourth-best total

offense too with 496.2 YPG, so this offense will be tough to stop.

Reasons Not to Like Montana

The Grizzlies’ defense hasn’t been great, but they haven’t needed to be given

their offensive prowess. Montana has surrendered 420.7 YPG this season, and

the Grizzlies’ secondary has had some trouble stopping opposing quarterbacks.

They are allowing 7.3 YPA on the year coming into Saturday’s clash with

Sacramento State. Dante Olson is a tremendous linebacker though, and he was

the only linebacker in the FCS to be placed on the Butkus Award Watch List.

Reasons to Like Sacramento State

Thomson has been one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. He is

responsible for 330 yards of offense per game, and he has notched 24

touchdowns in six games while only turning the ball over four times. His play has

been pivotal in turning Sacramento State into a contender for one of the few

times in the school’s history, and the Hornets will rely on him.

The sixth-year quarterback is one of the most experienced players in the history

of college football. Injuries have sidetracked his career, and Thomson has one

more year of eligibility after this one making him the rare player that stays on

campus for seven seasons. That has given him time to master the intricacies of

Troy Taylor’s spread option, allowing him to thrive.

Elijah Dotson has been used in a unique way in this offense. Dotson is one of the

most talented running backs in the FCS, but he is being used mostly as a

receiver. Taylor likes to get the ball to Dotson in space, and he leads the

team with 39 catches for 437 yards on the year. An excellent offensive line has

helped too as Thomson has yet to be sacked against an FCS opponent.

Reasons Not to Like Sacramento State

The Hornets have the same problems on defense that the Grizzlies do. They are

a little worse in the secondary, allowing 7.4 YPA and 13.2 YPC this year, but the

run defense has been better. They are conceding 2.9 YPC, yet a lot of that total

comes from sacks. Sacramento State has registered 20 sacks this year, and if

you take out the numbers from the sack yardage, the Hornets are conceding 3.8



Expect a ton of points in this one. Both of these offenses should move the ball

pretty well in one of the most entertaining games of the evening, but I trust

Montana more than Sacramento State even though they are on the road.

Final Score: Montana 41, Sacramento State 31