Aggies have a history with Boise State

By October 1, 2009

Enterprise columnist

In a previous life Ñ in fact the only other life I can remember Ñ I was a sports writer for an esteemed small-town daily in south-central Yolo County.

With no previous journalism experience, I got the job because I was able to prove to my editor, an able chap named Joe White, that I was a football fanatic who could accurately define the difference between a touchdown and a touchback. I also got the job, Joe White told me years later at his retirement party, because I was the only applicant.

The first Aggie football game I covered was at Occidental College in Southern California. It happened to be the first game where Jim Sochor roamed the sidelines as head coach. Occidental won, 20-6, an inglorious start to a soon-to-be-brilliant coaching career that eventually would land Sochor in the College Football Hall of Fame.

On that September night in Southern California I couldnÕt have imagined that Sochor would go on to win 156 games in 19 years or that one day, 39 years later, this humble Division II program would be traveling to Boise State to take on the No. 5 football team in the nation.

And while I have not been a sports writer for some time now, I must admit that come Saturday evening thereÕs no place IÕd rather be than in the press box at Bronco Stadium on the Boise State campus, reporting on what may be the most intriguing game in Aggie football history.

IÕd say itÕs the ÒbiggestÓ game in Aggie history, but it simply isnÕt. Unless, of course, the Aggies win, which no one Ñ including the Above-Pictured Columnist Ñ thinks will happen.

A win over Boise State would far eclipse that stunning 20-17 win over Stanford four years ago that some misguided national commentators called the biggest upset in college football history. Actually, anyone who has followed the Aggies and followed Stanford knows that what happened on that magical night in Stanford Stadium Ñ while certainly an upset Ñ was nowhere near the biggest upset in college football history. Not even close.

But, beat Boise State on Saturday and Òbiggest upset in college football historyÓ just might fit.

Consider that the Aggies opened the 2009 campaign with a 51-0 loss to Fresno State, which turned around two weeks later and dropped a 51-34 decision to Boise. If youÕre into comparative scores, that makes Boise 68 points better than UC Davis.

Consider that Boise opened the season with a 19-8 win over Oregon, the same Oregon team that routed No. 6 California, 42-3, last Saturday. That makes Boise State a scary 50 points better than Cal.

Consider that this game is on the BroncosÕ home blue turf in the Potato State, where Boise hasnÕt lost since before the French fry was invented.

The Aggies have met Boise three times on the football field Ñ IÕve been fortunate to cover all three games in my previous life Ñ with Boise coming away victorious all three times. Two, however, were nail-biters to the bitter end, and some Old Blues still talk about what might have been.

The first, in 1973, is quite simply the best football game IÕve ever witnessed. At any level. Boise emerged with a come-from-behind, last-second 32-31 win despite 419 passing yards by Aggie freshman quarterback Jim Speck, who came to UCD from Davis High School. Speck, ironically, now lives in Boise.

The next year Boise handed the Aggies their only loss of the season, 41-20, on a cold fall afternoon at Bronco Stadium. And finally, in the 1985 season opener in Boise, it was the Broncos again on their home field, stealing a 13-9 verdict. That, too, was UCDÕs only regular-season loss that year.

Interestingly, 1985 was the year that Chris Petersen, a junior college transfer, won the starting quarterback job at UCD, finishing his stunningly productive career in 1986 by becoming the first Aggie quarterback to complete over 70 percent of his passes in a single season.

Although he was here for only two years, Petersen completed 441 passes for a cool 5,555 yards and 42 touchdowns. I still remember the night in Stockton in 1986 when he completed 16 straight passes to lead the Aggies to a 45-41 upset of UOP.

And yes, since you asked, that would be the same Chris Petersen who is now the head football coach at Boise State and has been the talk of the college football world ever since the Broncos used a ÒStatue of LibertyÓ play with no time remaining to upset Oklahoma, 43-42, in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

While a dramatic conclusion is unlikely in SaturdayÕs Aggie-Boise matchup Ñ most commentators expect this one to be over by halftime Ñ those of us who have seen these two tangle over the years wonÕt be surprised if there are some heart-stopping moments before this one is over.

History demands it.

Ñ Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected] Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Bob Dunning

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