Sure, UC Davis head coach Bob Biggs would rather his football team had a better record and was heading to the 2012 Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
But with postseason play already off the table for the Aggies (3-7, 2-5 Big Sky Conference), hosting Saturday’s 59th annual Causeway Classic at Aggie Stadium is a great way for the legendary mentor to spend his last day on the sidelines.
Biggs, who announced before the season that he will retire following this, his 20th year as an Aggie head coach and his 39th in the program as a player and coach, has more good memories than he can count from those 38 Causeway Classics.
In recent history, there have been games like the 1997 clash, which UCD won 36- 28 in triple overtime after Jeremy Veasey blocked a Sacramento State field goal attempt to force OT and teammate DeSha Runnels did the same in the first extra session. The Aggies eventually won that contest when Kevin Daft — now UCD’s co-offensive coordinator — threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Francis Montes.
The 2003 Causeway was memorable for the Aggies’ game-winning drive that started with 1:26 left. The unconventional last-minute march featured five key running plays and ended with UCD’s Antar Mashin punching it in late for a 31-27 victory.
What makes rivalry games like the Causeway Classic so memorable — and therefore a great way to send Biggs out — is that they always bring out the best in the players involved, whether they are the team’s most decorated athletes or key reserves steeping up at just the right time.
The past two Classics are perfect examples.
In a 2010 game that featured monsoon-like conditions at Aggie Stadium — including a 47-minute lightning delay — UCD battled back from a 13-0 deficit to win 17-16. The two Aggie touchdowns came on passes from Randy Wright to Anthony Soto and key defensive plays were made by Kevyn Lewis, Byron Gruendl, Andrew Benjamin, Jordan Glass and Bobby Erskine. All of those guys — except Erskine, a senior captain who is out with a season-ending injury — should suit up for UCD on Saturday.
Last year’s contest, a 23-19 Aggie victory, saw UCD players on both sides of the ball have breakout games.
On offense, it was then-redshirt freshman running back Colton Silveria, who exploded for 170 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, it was Gruendl, who solidified himself is a defensive star with nine tackles, two for loss, plus a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Whoever steps up on Saturday certainly will find a place in Aggie lore, especially if they help Biggs go out with a win, which would be his 16th in 20 career games against the Hornets.
Notes: Heading into his career finale, Biggs has an all-time coaching record of 143-85-1. … The Aggies are 41-18 all-time against Sacramento State. … The Hornets (6-4, 4-3) are unofficially ranked 28th in the FCS as they received the third-highest votes of anyone outside The Sports Network’s Top 25. … Saturday’s game will start at 3 p.m. and be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet.
— Reach Chris Saur at [email protected] or 530-747-8049.