YOLO COUNTY NEWS

Aggies

For Ags and Hornets, this is the Big One

By November 18, 2010

Enterprise columnist

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No, the winner of Saturday\’s Causeway Classic will not receive a playoff berth or an invitation to a bowl game at some exotic locale.

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Don\’t laugh. In 1972 the Aggies edged Sac State, 17-16, and two weeks later shockingly and unexpectedly received a bid to the Boardwalk Bowl in beautiful Atlantic City. And if you\’ve never experienced Atlantic City in early December, you didn\’t miss anything.

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As a young sports writer, I covered that scintillating Causeway Classic in 1972 and the less-than-scintillating 35-14 loss to Massachusetts in the indoor Boardwalk Bowl, held in the very building where Miss America was crowned each summer.

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Unfortunately, the real grass playing surface that had been laid down for that game had hosted not Miss America the night before, but a dog show. If you think it smells like cows when UCD plays at Aggie Stadium, you should have been at the Boardwalk Bowl that day.

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But this isn\’t about the Boardwalk Bowl. It\’s about the Causeway Classic. Even if current Aggie coach Bob Biggs did complete 27 passes for 388 yards on that long-ago day in Atlantic City.

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The first Causeway Classic took place in 1954. I was at that one, too, though no one was smart enough to have named it the Causeway Classic at that point. And no one was smart enough to have hired me as a sports writer either.

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The Aggies won just one game in 1954. If you guessed Sac State was the lone victim, you would be right. 14-0 for the guys in Blue and Gold.

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Of course, Sac State was new to the game back then and probably didn\’t yet know what a first down was or that a touchdown was worth six points and a field goal three. The Aggies, on the other hand, had already been playing the game for nearly 40 years.

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In my 20-some years as a sports writer, I covered more than 200 Aggie football games, but if I had to list the Top 10, at least five of them would involve Sac State.

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Like the 24-17 Aggie win in the magical 1971 season when UCD needed a goal-line stand at the end to preserve the victory. There are Hornet fans who went to their grave still believing Sac State was denied a tying touchdown by a bad call in the days before instant replay.

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And no one who was in the overflow crowd that ringed Toomey Field in 1988 can forget the Hornets\’ last-second heroics in a 31-28 upset that snapped UCD\’s 18-game winning streak in the series and set Sac State off on a five-game streak of its own.

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In the great big world of college football, this is not a rivalry that\’s likely to make the ESPN highlights on Saturday night, but don\’t tell that to the Hornets and Aggies who will do battle Saturday, and certainly don\’t tell it to their fans.

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The 2010 season hasn\’t been particularly memorable for either team, which may mean both of them want this one a little more than usual. If that\’s possible.

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Three weeks ago, after a nasty 55-24 shellacking at the hands of Southern Utah, the Aggies stood at an uncharacteristic 3-5 and could have just mailed in the results of their last three games.

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Sac State was just 3-4 after heartbreakingly close losses to nationally ranked Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington.

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But a funny thing happened on the way to Causeway Classic 2010.

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The Aggies righted their ship and evened their record with wins over North Dakota and Cal Poly, coming back from a 21-0 deficit in the latter. They\’re clearly a team with no quit.

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Sac State, meanwhile, has caught fire down the stretch with consecutive wins over Northern Arizona, Portland State and Idaho State. The Hornets are on a roll.

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There is no national championship on the line Saturday. No league title. No playoff bid. No bowl game.

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Put simply, there doesn\’t need to be.

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Take the Aggies, 21-17.

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

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Bob Dunning

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