I’ll be completely honest – I was not expecting the Aggie football team to be 2-3 after this weekend.
Last time I checked, San Jose State is still a Football Bowl Subdivision team that could run over a limping UC Davis squad nine times out of 10.
However, it was mainly due to my pessimism that I expected the worst. (Being a life-long San Francisco Giants fan is the source of this feeling. Earthquakes, strikes, rally monkeys, Scott Spezio, Jose Cruz Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Steve Finley, Coors Field and the Padres have all added to the cause.)
But, boy was I wrong.
The Aggies clearly out-played the Spartans Saturday night for their first win over an FBS school since they toppled Stanford five years ago.
UC Davis struggled in the first half, but turned on the jets to start the third quarter, and carried this momentum well through the fourth and onto the victory.
A lot can be said about this win. The pessimist in me will say it was a fluke upset and the Aggies won’t perform like this again. But for once, the optimist in me is powering through.
I know UC Davis will play like it did in the second half against the Spartans throughout the rest of the season. It’s not because of some individual statistic or a single play in the game. The Aggies will play strong the rest of the way because of momentum.
Momentum in sports can be just as good if not better than sheer talent. It can power teams’ division titles and motor them through the playoffs. And in Saturday’s win, the Aggies got their momentum.
The clear shift started after halftime.
Quarterback Randy Wright said linebacker Dozie Amajoyi poked his head into the offensive side of the locker room at the break and gave a couple inspiring words.
“Dozie told us that the defense will give us stops and we’ll put some points on the board and we’ll win this game,” Wright said.
The Aggies came out of the half fired up. Even though they didn’t score on their first drive out of the break, they put up some serious offensive production. Wright looked comfortable in the pocket and made some smart decisions with the ball.
The real momentum shift came off a Spartan fumble on their own 20. The Aggies took over at the nine and went on to score their first touchdown in six quarters.
From that point, the game was all UC Davis, as the Aggies controlled the ball and forced turnovers when needed. The Aggies got a couple key first downs and the rest is history.
While coach Bob Biggs wouldn’t comment on what the win means for the program as a whole, he did say this could be a turning point in the season.
“This meant a lot for this team because we’ve been playing and practicing so hard recently,” Biggs said. “It’s nice to finally be rewarded. We came out in the second half and made some plays and took the game.”
Biggs agreed that halftime was a key moment for this team and this season.
“We told them not to worry about what happened but about what’s going to happen,” Biggs said. “We didn’t dwell on not scoring in the first half and came out relaxed.”
The Aggies return home where they are 9-3 dating back to the 2008 campaign. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize UC Davis will continue its strong play at Aggie Stadium. The combination of a hot UC Davis squad and a rocking Aggie Pack will lead to some special things on the field.
“It feels like we haven’t been home in a month,” said free safety Danny Hart. “It’s going to be exciting to come home now that school is in session. Hopefully we’ll have a full house and be able to string a couple wins together.”
When looking back on this season, Amajoyi’s halftime speech could be the turning point. The momentum shift could be the kind that carries this team to another Great West Conference title.
In its own right, topping a successful FBS team like San Jose State is a tremendous accomplishment. Wright ranks it as one of the top three wins in Aggie football history, and it’s hard to argue with him.
It’s not what this win did for UC Davis, though. It’s what it will do going forward.
JASON ALPERT believes that like UC Davis football, the San Francisco Giants now have the momentum they need. To talk Aggie football or Giants baseball, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.