|Date||Saturday, Dec. 7|
|Time||6:00 p.m. PT|
|Radio||ESPN 1320 AM|
|Game Notes||Sacramento State | Austin Peay|
1. How This Works
For the first time in school history, Sacramento State will take part in the NCAA FCS Championships this Saturday. The tournament field consists of 24 teams which are made up of 10 automatic qualifiers and 14 at-large selections. The top eight teams are seeded by the committee and received first round byes last weekend. The remaining 16 teams were matched up in regional games with the winners moving on to face the top eight seeds. Teams will move through a bracket similar to other NCAA championships with the two finalists battling for the national championship on Jan. 11 in Frisco, Texas.
2. It's Been A While
The last time the Hornets appeared in a postseason game at any level all of the current players and a few of the Sacramento State coaches were not born. In 1988, the Hornets qualified for the NCAA Div. II playoffs and had to play at UC Davis in the opening round. Sacramento State downed the Aggies, 35-14, for its second win over UCD that season. The second round was held at Hornet Stadium where Sacramento State crushed North Carolina Central, 56-7. The team then traveled to North Dakota State for the semifinals where the Bison won 42-20.
3. How The Hornets Got Here
Sacramento State finished the regular season with a 9-3 overall record and a 7-1 mark in the Big Sky Conference which tied with Weber State for the title. The team's nine wins were the most in a regular season in program history and a victory this weekend would tie the team with the 1988 squad for the most all-time at Sacramento State. Along with the conference title, the team also went 4-0 on the road in conference games for the first time in school history. Sacramento State has won seven of its last eight games, including a 27-17 win over UC Davis in the 66th Causeway Classic to cap the regular season.
Head coach Troy Taylor was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year and is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award which goes to the top coach in the FCS. Fifteen players were named to the all-Big Sky teams, including a conference leading seven on the first team. Quarterback Kevin Thomson was named the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year.
4. Who They Are
Austin Peay hails from Clarksville, Tenn., which is about 50 miles northwest of Nashville. The school is named after the first three-term governor of Tennessee who later died in office. Not that long ago, APSU had a 29-game losing streak which spanned parts of four seasons. The program turned it around with an 8-4 mark in 2017 and then went 5-6 last season. This year, the Governors won the first first Ohio Valley Conference title and are 10-3 overall following a 42-6 first round win over Furman.
Sacramento State and Austin Peay are the only teams out of the 24 in the FCS playoffs that are making their first appearance in the tournament. Austin Peay's offense is very similar to the Hornets with a dual-threat quarterback, talented running backs and dangerous wide receivers. The Govs defense is one of the best in the nation against the run, limiting teams to 91.0 rushing yards per game.
5. Honorary Captain
This week's honorary captain is Zack Nash. The former All-American defensive end played for Sacramento State from 2007-11. Nash held the single-season and career sacks records from the time his career ended until they were topped by George Obinna this year. He went on to play for the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL and is currently a Berkeley police officer.
Nash will speak to the team on Friday night and then take part in the pregame activities on Saturday.
BONUS FACT - Weather Report
Yes, rain is expected. Yes, the game will still be played (that's a question that was asked this week). Do remember that umbrellas are not allowed in Hornet stadium. So grab your jacket and poncho and get out to Hornet Stadium for a memorable night.