In the annual battle of two local college football teams, Sacramento State football team will have the opportunity to win its first Big Sky Conference title on Saturday when it hosts the 66th Causeway Classic. The game against UC Davis will get underway at 2:05 p.m. from Hornet Stadium.

Prior to the start of the contest, Sacramento State will honor its 16 seniors who will be playing their final regular season game at Hornet Stadium.

The Hornets enter the week ranked fourth in both the STATS FCS media poll and the AFCA FCS coaches poll. Sacramento State improved to 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the Big Sky Conference with a convincing 31-7 win at Idaho last Saturday. The Hornets set their Div. I era record for wins in season and also tied the high mark for Big Sky wins in the game. The previous high for overall wins in the Div. I era came in 2017 where Sacramento State was 7-5 and 6-2 in league games. The last time the Hornets won eight games in a season came at the Div. II level where the team was 8-2 in 1991.

UC Davis dropped to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in league games with a 27-17 home loss to Montana State. The Aggies, which features Monterey Trail graduate Jehiel Budgett, surrendered 501 yards of total offense and were just 2-of-14 on third down and 0-for-3 on fourth down.

The Aggie offense has been led all season by quarterback Jake Maier and running back Ulonzo Gilliam, Jr. Maier became the all-time leading passer in UCD history with 10,930  career passing yards. This season, Maier has thrown for 3,330 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Gilliam has 1,188 rushing yards and 11 scores.

Eric Flowers (73) and Connor Airey (70) are the top two tacklers for the team. Devon King is the anchor in the secondary with three of the team’s eight interceptions and Nick Eaton has a team-best 12.0 TFLs, including 6.5 sacks.

Dan Hawkins is in his third season at his alma mater. Hawkins has a career record of 131-76-1 in 18 years as a collegiate head coach.

The Aggies have the two longest win streaks, with 18 straight from 1970-87 and eight consecutive from 2000-07. The longest Hornet streak was five straight from 1988-91, which included the NCAA first-round matchup that year. As noted above, this is the 11th straight year in which the Causeway Classic closes out the regular season... In fact, only 23 of the 66 all-time meetings had that characteristic, with another eight matchup serving as that year’s penultimate regular-season game... This will also become the first Causeway Classic in which Sacramento State is ranked in the FCS poll... The Hornets had made the Top 25 in 1999, 2000 and 2011, but never remained in the poll later than Oct. 16 (1999) until this year.

In fact, with Sacramento State sporting an 8-3 record and UCDavis entering at 5-6, this marks the most combined wins between the two teams at the time of the matchup since 1986, when a 5-3-1 Hornet team took on an 8-1 Aggie squad. In 1985, Sac State was 8-2 when it lost to an 8-1 UC Davis in a contest that arguably determined a Division II playoff berth.

In 1982, Dan Hawkins’ senior year, Sacramento State was 8-1 entering the game while UC Davis was undefeated at 8-0. The Hornets lost by whopping 51-6 margin but still made the playoffs, ultimately losing to Eastern Washington one week later. The Aggies went on to the D II title game that year.

– Brian Berger and Mark Honbo