Event: The Golden Horseshoe Classic
Teams: UC Davis at No. 3 Cal Poly
Records: Aggies, 5-5 (2-0); Mustangs (7-1, 2-0)
Where: Alex G. Spanos Stadium – San Luis Obispo
When: Saturday at 4:05 p.m.
Who to watch: Last year, a knee injury kept John Faletoese on the sidelines as Cal Poly produced 704 yards of total offense en route to a landslide victory at Aggie Stadium.
This time, the senior All-American defensive tackle will be in the middle of the action, looking to take away the dive element of the potent Mustangs option attack.
“[Being without him] was a real problem,” head coach Bob Biggs said. “The people who were playing defensive tackle for him were getting cut left and right, and we couldn’t get any pursuit down the line of scrimmage.”
Did you know? The Aggies have lost to Sacramento State and Cal Poly in the same year just three times before: 1989, 1990 and 1996.
Preview: If UC Davis has a problem heading into Saturday, motivation isn’t it.
With a win, the Aggies would capture the Great West Conference title, bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss to Sacramento State, redeem last year’s demoralizing 63-24 home loss to Cal Poly, and – of course – defeat their highly-ranked rival to repossess the Golden Horseshoe trophy.
But doing so won’t exactly be a walk in the park.
“You’re going to have to play a very, very physical game; that’s all there is to it,” Biggs said. “I think you always have to play physical, but some games are going to be a little bit more finesse than others. This won’t be one of those.”
The Aggies will look to derail a Mustangs offense that has so far trampled just about every team it has faced. On the year, Cal Poly leads the Football Championship Subdivision in total offense (490.1 yards) and points (45.9) per game.
The Mustangs ranked third in FCS in rushing yards per contest (288.1), and the passing offense, headlined by Ramses Barden, is just as deadly.
Barden, a senior wide receiver, has caught at least one touchdown pass in 17 straight games. So far this season, the 6-foot-6, 227-pounder has 996 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.
As quarterback, John Dalley boasts an 18:1 TD:INT ratio and leads the FCS with a 205.5 quarterback rating.
“I think Cal Poly, in all the years we’ve been playing them, they’ve accumulated at each of the offensive skill positions the best group they’ve had – they’re very talented,” Biggs said. “Of all the teams we’ve seen this year, I think they’re the best. They’re a great challenge, and I’m really looking forward to it, and I know the team is, too.”