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With loss in rearview mirror, No. 7 Montana set for massive Big Sky clash at No. 2 Sacramento State

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Posted at 10:37 AM, Oct 22, 2022

MISSOULA — The show goes on for the Montana Grizzlies.

After UM lost its first game of the season over the weekend to Idaho, the Griz now look toward their next opponent.

That, is Sacramento State, a team currently ranked No. 2 in the FCS, and though UM fell to No. 7 in the latest polls, it'll still be a Top-10 clash when the Hornets and Griz meet on Saturday evening in Sacramento, California, at Hornet Stadium with a national TV audience as well.

"They've just been outstanding so far so it will be a real test for us," UM coach Bobby Hauck said. "Certainly we're well aware that it's a big game in terms of the conference schedule, has been the last couple of years so we're excited to go down there and play our best game of the year, hopefully."

The Hornets are off to a 6-0 start for the first time since 1991, and are 3-0 in Big Sky Conference play.

Sac State enters the game as the two-time defending regular season conference champs, and the program is 18-1 in league games since Troy Taylor was hired as head coach.

The Hornets have the top offense in the league in teams of yards (519.8) and points (48.3) per game, and they're led by standout running back Cameron Skattebo as well as the dual QB system of Jake Dunniway and Asher O'Hara.

"They're different from one another but the offense isn't different," Hauck said of the quarterbacks. "They've done a nice job with that, probably as good as I've ever seen."

The Hornets also haven't trailed yet this season, and are the only Division I football program in the country to do just that.

But Montana's defense leads a number of number of conference categories as well — like fewest yards per game allowed at 263.5 and sacks with 23 — but at the end of the day, only one stat matters to Hauck.

"It's important we score more points than them," Hauck said. "We can talk about crap like that but none of it has any bearing on the game. We got to outplay them, outscore them. They got to do the same to us. Whoever does that is going to win."

The Grizzlies have dropped two straight contests to Sac State, including a loss at home in 2021.

But after that loss last season, Montana responded in a big way with six straight victories, and it's about seeing if this year's squad can respond again after Saturday's stumble against Idaho.

Because after all, losing, is part of the game.

"Everybody here has played and coached a long time we've all lost before," Hauck said. "We know we're going to lose games at some point in time. Everybody who plays a sport does that so do you just quit or do you go play, we're going to go play. Hell, you play sports, you lose. We can play a game of cards, one of us can lose, cribbage, are we going to play the next one or are we going to quit?"

Kickoff for No. 7 Montana at No. 2 Sacramento State is at 9 p.m. Mountain Time, 8 p.m. Pacific. The game will air on ESPN2.