While the Football Championship Subdivision is certainly a half step down from the Football Bowl Subdivision in terms of talent, there are still some amazing athletes on the elite FCS teams.
One of those elite FCS squads this season is No. 2 Montana State, which will be at Aggie Stadium to face UC Davis (2-3, 1-1) on Saturday. The Aggies’ Homecoming game starts at 4 p.m.
The Bobcats (5-0, 2-0 Big Sky), who have won 14 of their last 15 games and been in the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, are paced by DeNarius McGhee, one of the most talented quarterbacks in the FCS.
And even though Montana State will be without Caleb Schreibeis, its top pass rusher and one of the best in the nation with 4.5 sacks, the Bobcats still have a star on that side of the ball in Jody Owens.
MSU’s leading tackler with 44, the senior linebacker is fresh off of a monster performance in a 24-17 win over Southern Utah last week. Owens forced a fumble and had a sack, one of his two tackles for loss among his 13 stops.
“Jody had a fabulous game and he’s just an outstanding player,” Montana State coach Rob Ash said of his Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week. “I think he’s lived up to his billing going into the season as one of the top players in the Big Sky Conference.
“He’s just so dynamic, he sheds blocks well, he reads things well, he’s so fast and he’s always on. He’s just always making plays.”
Even more dynamic than Owens is McGhee, the Bobcats’ dual-threat QB who ranks 14th in the FCS in total offense at 279.2 yards per game. McGhee has thrown for 11 touchdowns this season and run for three more.
The Aggies are familiar with McGhee — who threw for 257 yards and two scores, while running for 59 yards and a TD in last year’s 38-17 Montana State win in Bozeman, Mont. — but stopping him will not be easy.
“Obviously, DaNarius kind of makes things happen and it’s important to try to contain him,” said UCD head coach Bob Biggs. “I think he’s most dangerous when he’s out of the pocket making plays with his feet.”
Still, the Aggie defense it at the top of its game right now after holding South Dakota State to just 12 points on Sept. 15 and posting a similarly impressive performance last week at home when UCD got its first Big Sky win ever, 37-13 over Weber State.
“It was obviously a huge stepping stone for this program getting our first ever Big Sky win in front of a huge crowd,” said defensive end Andrew Benjamin. “It was a really positive note for the season.
“(Defensively), I think we are coached very well,” Benjamin added. “We are just gelling as a squad, everyone kind of likes each other and loves to play with each other. We have a brotherhood on the defense that we just all feed off of.”
Notes: Even though Biggs will retire after the season, his 20th as the Aggie head coach, Rob Ash — his counterpart at Montana State — won’t be taking it easy on him. “I’ve got a ton of respect for Bob Biggs. He’s an outstanding coach and a very highly respected man in our profession and you hate to see guys like that ever have to retire. It’ll be sad to see him go… but at the same time, I’m not going to let him go here with a victory, I’ve still got to compete.” … In addition to the Homecoming festivities, Saturday will feature a reunion for the Block CA student-athlete association. … Schreibeis will miss the contest due to a one-game suspension by the Big Sky for an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver in last week’s win over Southern Utah.
— Reach Chris Saur at [email protected] or (530) 747-8049.