In 1954, Dave Strong was named the first football coach for the Hornets football program. The programs' first victory came in the second season, during the 1955 season, where the Hornets defeated Southern Oregon by a point, which was also their only win of the season(they failed to win a game in their inaugural season in which they went 0-7). Sacramento State Football first affiliated with the Northern California Athletic Conference (NCAC) from 1962 until 1972, where they were added to the Western Football Conference (WFC) from 1973 to 1985, then becoming part of the D-1AA American West Conference (AWC). In 1996, Sac State was added to the Big Sky Conference along with Portland State, becoming the first California school in the Big Sky. Hornet Stadium has been home to the football team since 1969. The program's all time football record is (252-339-8).
The history of Sac State football classifications
The team were never ranked in any major polls by the end of all their past seasons, but have won a total of 4 conference titles since 1954. The Hornets football team participated in 2 bowls, The Pasadena Bowl in 1968 against Grambling State, where the Hornets lost 7-34, and The Camellia Bowl in 1964 ( 1964 College Division National Runner-up), where Montana State Bobcats defeated the Hornets 28-7.
One of Sac State's most notable wins came on September 3, 2011 in the season opener for both Sac State and Oregon State Beavers of the Pacific-12 conference at Reser Stadium. The Hornets upset the Beavers in OT 29-28 with a 2-point conversion pass from QB Jeff Flemming to WR Brandyn Reed, beating an AQ (or BCS) Conference team for the first time in school history in front of an announced crowd of 41,581. The Beavers were a 23 point favorite coming into the game. Just four weeks after the win over Oregon State, the Hornets defeated FCS national power Montana for the program's first ever win over the Montana Grizzlies on September 24, 2011. Hornets defeated the then #10 ranked Grizzlies by a score of 42-28 in Hornet Stadium.
On September 8, 2012, Sac State defeated Colorado Buffaloes of the Pac-12 conference, at Folsom Field as 20 point underdogs. Colorado jumped to an early 14-0 start but the Hornets quickly answered back with a pair of touchdown passes from Hornets QB Garrett Safron and a 2-yard rushing touchdown by A.J. Ellis to lead 21-14 over the Buffaloes. Sac State led 24-21 during intermission. With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and down 28-27, Hornet's walk-on kicker, Edgar Castenada, made the 31-yard field goal winning kick for a final score of 30-28. After the game, Hornets Head Coach Marshall Sperbeck announced in the locker room that Sacramento State has offered Castendada a scholarship. This marked a consecutive year in which Sac State faced an AQ conference school (both in the Pac-12 conference) as heavy underdogs on the road and walked out with victories.
Sacramento State Football team plays against their arch rivals, UC Davis Aggies, annually and usually the last game of the regular season. This rivalry game is known as The Causeway Classic, and each team competes for the Causeway Carriage, referring to the fact that the schools are connected by the long Yolo Causeway bridge over Yolo Bypass flood way. UC Davis leads the series 40 to 18 with no ties. This game has drawn crowds up to 18,000 in the Hornet Stadium, and is widely popular in the local area. Other notable rivalries includes Portland State, Eastern Washington, Weber State, the Montana schools and Big Sky conference foes.