The most important aspect of tomorrow’s matchup is Sacramento State’s athletic profile. The Hornets play in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), which used to be known as D-IAA. That means several things. First of all, they play against significantly inferior competition (the Big Sky conference) when compared to the PAC-10 or any of the conferences that belong to the Football Bowl Subdivision. After Saturday’s game against Stanford, Sacramento State will face Western Oregon (a D-II team), Weber State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Colorado, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Idaho State, and UC Davis. Stanford is the only FBS team Sacramento State will play all year. Like we said before, that level of play is nothing like that found in the PAC-10. The Hornets also draw in lower caliber recruits considering their lesser athletic prestige and resources. We couldn’t even find widely available information on the recruits committed to Sacramento State for next year or for any previous years.
In other words, this game is a tune-up for the Cardinal. Just as Stanford used to play San Jose State early in the year to get an easy game in before the grind of conference opponents, the Cardinal coaching staff has lessened the opposition this year (San Jose State is an FBS team and chose to play Alabama tomorrow in order to secure a greater financial compensation package than Stanford was willing to offer). Mismatches will abound on both sides of the ball, and Stanford should post at least 50 points. Andrew Luck and the wide receiving corps should pick up a ton of yards, and the unproven running back stable will have an opportunity to get used to game action and possibly determine who will be the definite starter when the important games arrive. If the Card don’t drop 50, it will be due to a mixture of good sportsmanship and a desire to get some bench players into the game. Sacramento State should not score more than 14 points in this game. If they do, Stanford fans will have legitimate reason to be concerned with the new 3-4 scheme and with whether or not Stanford will be able stop PAC-10 offenses.
This week’s preview will be a bit briefer than usual simply because this game is a no-brainer and Sacramento State is somewhat of an unknown quantity as a member of a different division of collegiate football. Last year, they went just 5-6, and were blown out by UNLV 38-3. It’s a new year, but don’t expect an upset from the Hornets. While Appalachian State, an FCS team, beat a top-10 Michigan team in Michigan Stadium on opening day three years ago, Appalachian State was an FCS powerhouse and was facing a Wolverine team that was exposed as a national title pretender as the season went on. FCS-FBS upsets happen, but don’t expect one at Stanford Stadium on Saturday. This won’t even be close. If you’re looking for a nice early-season barn-burner, we suggest buying tickets to the Wake Forest game at Stanford on September 18 or the USC game on October 9, which will probably be shoot-outs.
Verdict: Stanford beats Sacramento State, 52-10