In 2006, when Dennis Green, then head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, famously yelled, “They are who we thought they were!” he was talking about the Chicago Bears.
UC Davis football coach Bob Biggs has been more than a bit calmer than that when talking to the media this season, but he’s probably thinking a similar thing as the Aggies navigate through their first season in the Big Sky Conference.
After losing 21-7 to Northern Arizona on the road Saturday, UCD (3-5 overall) is now 2-3 in league play, a respectable record as a newcomer in a conference that is arguably the best in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The Big Sky features four teams in the The Sports Network’s Top 25, including the nation’s top team in Eastern Washington. The other three ranked Big Sky teams — No. 4 Montana State, No. 11 Cal Poly and No. 13 Northern Arizona — will be familiar to Aggie fans as they are the three squads to which UCD has lost conference games.
This season’s high rankings aren’t an aberration for the league. Before last season — when Montana made it to the FCS semifinals — the FCS championship game had one Big Sky team in it from 2008 to 2010. The Grizzlies were the tournament’s runner-up in ’08 and ’09, before Eastern Washington won it all in 2010.
But while the Big Sky is rich at the top, it is also deep in talent. Despite beating a pair of teams that have combined to win just one conference game — Weber State and Idaho State — UCD has had to work hard for its league victories.
The Aggies got their biggest challenge from the last-place Bengals, who are 1-6 overall but gave UCD all it could handle in a 52-45 game at Aggie Stadium.
“They fought us every step of the way,” Biggs told the media after that game.
Notes: UCD’s two nonconference losses also have come against highly regarded competition. South Dakota State, which edged the Aggies 12-8, is unofficially the 26th-ranked team in the FCS. They received the most votes of any team not in the top 25. The other UCD defeat came at the hands of Football Bowl Subdivision San Jose State. … Another example of the Big Sky’s depth comes to Aggie Stadium on Saturday for a 2 p.m. kickoff. Portland State is just 1-3 in conference play, but its one win was a 77-10 thumping of Idaho State. … After the Vikings, the Aggies’ next opponent is — you guessed it — No. 1 Eastern Washington. The season then wraps up against a Sacramento State squad that also received votes in the most recent Top 25 poll.
— Reach Chris Saur at email@example.com or 530-747-8049.