Meet the opponent: #4 Sacramento State to host SDSU in FCS Playoffs

KELOLAND.com Original

SACRAMENTO, CA (KELO) — The second round of the FCS Playoffs will see SDSU and #4 Sacramento State cross paths for a spot in the quarterfinals.

The game is set to begin at 8 p.m. on ESPN+ and you can follow along with the action by visiting the KELOLAND.com Live Blog on the sports page.

So, who is Sacramento State and what should the Jackrabbits expect come Saturday night?

SACRAMENTO STATE

Sacramento State is a public university located in Sacramento, California. It was founded in 1947 and is one of the campus’ in the California State University system.

Sac State struggled from 2015-2018 as they went just 13-30. Since that point, the Hornets have gone 18-6 in two seasons. They opted out of the spring FCS season in 2021.

The Hornet football team started the 2021 season with a 1-2 record, after suffering losses to Northern Iowa (34-16) and Cal (42-30).

Since that point, Sacramento State has won eight straight contests to close out the season with a 9-2 record and a Big Sky regular season title. They went 8-0 in league play.

A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

Stat CategorySDSU#4 Sacramento State
Total Offense448.8 YPG (10)462.5 YPG (9)
Scoring Offense38.8 PPG (6)31.4 PPG (31)
Passing Offense234.1 YPG (38)284.1 YPG (14)
Rushing Offense214.8 YPG (10)178.4 YPG (25)
Red Zone Offense89.1% (12)82.4% (47)
Total Defense333 YPG (29)326.6 YPG (21)
Scoring Defense18.75 PPG (18)18.64 PPG (17)
Passing Defense228 YPG212.6 YPG (50)
Rushing Defense105 YPG (12)114 YPG (21)
Red Zone Defense72.2% (15)68.8% (8)
YPG = Yards per game, PPG = Points per game ( )= National Rank

When looking at the team numbers, not a whole lot stands out as the two teams are quite similar, though there are a few differences.

The yards per game offensively are basically even, but the points per game aren’t. Despite averaging 14 yards less per game, SDSU is scoring more than a touchdown more per contest.

The two offenses have different strengths. SDSU has a top ten rushing offense, while Sacramento State’s offense relies more on the pass.

In the red zone, SDSU scores on nearly 7% more trips than Sac State.

Defensively the two teams are almost equal. They are both very solid on the defensive side of the ball and the stats certainly tend to show that.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sacramento State has three offensive players to watch for including quarterback Jake Dunniway, backup quarterback Asher O’Hara and wide receiver Pierre Williams.

Dunniway rarely runs the football, but he is the leading passer with 2,245 yards (39th best in FCS) on the season to go along with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.

O’Hara is the backup QB, so why is he a player to watch? Simple, he has a huge impact in the game for a backup. He has 855 passing yards and six passing touchdowns this season, but his greatest impact comes on the ground. He is the Hornets’ leading rusher with 655 rushing yards and nine touchdowns this season. He has carried the ball 157 times this season. His 15 total touchdowns leads the team.

Cameron Skattebo, BJ Perkinson and Marcus Fulcher share the carries as the running backs. They are basically identical on carries as Skattebo has 54, Perkinson has 54 and Fulcher has 53.

Pierre Williams leads the team in receiving yards at 664 yards with two touchdowns. Tight end Marshel Martin is their go to guy in the red zone as he has six touchdowns. He also has 590 yards.

Defensively, Sacramento State is led by Marcus Hawkins. The senior linebacker has 74 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions this season.

SDSU’s players to watch on offense have to be Chris Oladokun, Pierre Strong Jr., Isaiah Davis and the Janke brothers at wide receiver.

Jadon and Jaxon Janke

The Jacks have had no shortage of weapons this season, but the return of Isaiah Davis has rebuilt the power duo of running back in Strong Jr. and Davis.

FRISCO, TX – MAY 16: Isaiah Davis #22 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits runs for a touchdown against the Sam Houston State Bearkats during the Division I FCS Football Championship held at Toyota Stadium on May 16, 2021 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

That tandem certainly makes the offense flow and we’ve seen that so far in the playoffs.

THE GAME

SDSU and Sacramento State will cross paths for the first time in the two schools history on the football field. SDSU is 3-3 against Big Sky opponents in the playoffs.

Kick-off is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 4. The game will air on ESPN+.

The game is set to begin at 8 p.m. on ESPN+ and you can follow along with the action by visiting the KELOLAND.com Live Blog on the sports page.

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