Time, date, location: 8:15 p.m. MT, Saturday, Bobcat Stadium, Bozeman
Television: ESPNU/ESPN app
Radio: Bobcat Radio Network
Weather: 48 degrees
Vigen previously served as Wyoming’s offensive coordinator for seven seasons before joining MSU in 2021. Earlier in his career, he served as an assistant coach at North Dakota State.
Hawkins previously served as head coach at Willamette (1993-97), Boise State (2001-05) and Colorado (2006-10) before returning to his alma mater UC Davis in 2017.
Impact Players: Montana State
DT Sebastien Valdez
Montana State tapped Valdez to be a consistent point guard this season, and he lived up to expectations against Eastern Washington. Valdez finished with four tackles, including a sack, and hit EWU running back Micah Smith after MSU linebacker Callahan O’Reilly forced a fumble with 3 minutes and 43 seconds left. He’s now tied for first in the Big Sky with 5 1/2 sacks this season and has forced two fumbles.
RB Elijah Elliott
After getting just seven total runs in the first three games of the season, Elliott made his return to a starring role in MSU’s backfield against EWU last week. The Bobcats have been looking for a consistent starting running back all season, and Elliott beat the Eagles with 156 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Elliott is expected to have another heavy workload against UC Davis on Saturday.
DB Ty Okada
Okada said after the EWU game that he tried to stay “balanced” during a hectic second half. It helped that he made a few key plays on the field, like blocking a punt deep in Eagles territory late in the second quarter and recovering a fumble late in the fourth quarter. In four games this season, Okada is second on the team in tackles (21 total) and has three pass breakups.
Impact players: UC Davis
DB Rex Connors
The Aggies’ secondary anchor is Connors, who leads the team in tackles (28) and interceptions (two) this season. Those numbers also rank fourth and tied for second in the Big Sky, respectively. Connors also finished with a season-high 17 tackles in Davis’ 24-22 loss to No. 2 South Dakota State earlier this season. As Montana State quarterback Sean Chambers makes his first start of the season, it will be up to players like Connors and fellow defensive backs Devon King and Chris Venable to challenge him.
RB Ulonzo Gilliam Jr.
Gilliam is one of Big Sky’s most dynamic offensive players, proven by his ability to run and catch the ball out of the backfield. He was named the preseason Big Sky Offensive Most Valuable Player and was named a first-team All-Big Sky in 2021. So far this season, Gilliam has amassed 562 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns and 23 receptions, a team summit. He also leads the Big Sky in rushing yards this season (365 yards on 54 carries).
QB Miles Hastings
Hastings currently leads the Big Sky in passing this season, with 113 of 171 passes for 1,041 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions so far. Last time out against Weber State, he went 39 of 57 for 256 yards and a touchdown while throwing to eight different receivers. At the same time, Davis ranks only eighth in the Big Sky in total offense (22.5 points per game). Hastings is still the best FCS quarterback Montana State will face in the first five games and will look to continue their prime time hot streak against the Bobcats.
– Montana State is coming off a thrilling 38-35 victory over the then No. 1. 15 East Washington in Cheney, Washington, last Saturday.
– UC Davis is coming off a narrow 17-12 home loss to the then No. 1. 12 State of Weber. It marked the Aggies’ third loss in four games to start the season.
– MSU leads the all-time series 6-1. The last game between the Bobcats and Aggies ended in a 27-17 victory for MSU in Davis, Calif. on November 16, 2019.
–Davis running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. enters the game with 40 career touchdowns, which is tied for the most in program history for a non-quarterback (Matt Brown, Preston Jackson).
– MSU currently has the longest active home winning streak in FCS, with the Bobcats winning 14 games in a row at Bobcat Stadium. The most recent loss was a 34-21 loss to Sacramento State on October 12, 2019.
– Quarterback Sean Chambers will make his first start in an MSU uniform on Saturday. Chambers has already started 19 games during his time at Wyoming (2018-21).
– In four games, Davis is the least penalized team on Big Sky (16) and has allowed the fewest sacks (three). The Aggies offensive line is led by All-Big Sky preseason center Connor Pettek and guard Jake Parks.
Both Montana State players and head coach Brent Vigen viewed the 38-35 road win over Eastern Washington last week as a momentum-building victory. A game against UC Davis at home this Saturday in prime time will be a chance to prove it – without starting quarterback Tommy Mellott under center. Sean Chambers starts and although he was a more than capable rusher – 345 yards and nine touchdowns on 51 carries – he did not become a passer at MSU (9 of 21, 99 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions ). He might not need it if the Bobcats can replicate their running performance from the EWU game (355 total yards).
The Aggies, meanwhile, arrive with a chip on their shoulders. Davis is a deceiving 1-3 team, with close losses to the top 10 teams in South Dakota State and Weber State. The Aggies also have a dynamic offense led by quarterback Miles Hastings and running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. and an aggressive defense (eight forced turnovers this season). It’ll be an even bigger test than last week for MSU’s defense, a unit that has shown it’s susceptible to giving up big plays on the field. Even with some uncertainty, the Bobcats have the home advantage — where they’ve won 14 straight — and can win if they continue to find ways to stay creative on offense with Chambers in charge.
Montana State 28, UC Davis 24