UC Davis makes its final roadtrip with retiring head coach Bob Biggs, playing its third ranked team this season while trying to avoid a second three-game losing streak.
The Aggies are coming off their only bye week of the season... They are 2-3 after bye weeks since moving to NCAA Div. I in 2007 and have lost their last two (Humboldt St., 23-17 in `11; So. Ala., 24-21 in `10).
UC Davis is playing its sixth consecutive game on artificial turf... In fact, only games at South Dakota State and Cal Poly have been played on natural grass this season.
P Colton Schmidt has moved up to seventh nationally in punting (43.6 avg.) as he maintains a school-record pace to break his own mark (42.3 avg.) set last year... His kicking has pushed UC Davis to No. 1 among FCS teams in net punt yardage (40.1 avg.) for the first time in 2012.
UC Davis has rushed for at least 100 yards four straight games, a first for the program at the Div. I level and the first time it's done it since stringing a quartet of such games in 2003.
LB Jordan Glass has a team-high 67 tackles this season, just one off last year's team-best tying 68... LB Byron Gruendl, who also had 68 in `11, has 64 this season and is second... No other Aggie has reached 50 yet.
QB Randy Wright has thrown for at least 240 yards in four of his past six games, totaling 1,469 yards and nine touchdowns.
UC Davis quarterbacks have completed 183 passes this season (169 by Wright) to 18 different receivers... WR Corey Galindo has 26 catches for 443 yards to lead the way.
The Aggies are 4-13 on the road since the start of the 2009 season, including a 1-4 mark this year.
UC Davis has been outscored in each of the second through fourth quarters but has been dominant in the first, 68-35.
Opponents are 16 for 16 in the red-zone the last four games, scoring 100 points.
After this week's game, UC Davis will have played on EWU's notable red turf and Boise State's blue "grass."
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. EASTERN WASHINGTON
Eastern Washington leads UC Davis 2-0 in their all-time series which previously featured games in 2005 (EWU, 24-7) and 2007 (EWU, 41-31)... Both games were played in Cheney, Wash.
Current Aggie assistant coach Tim Plough had a career day in the latter matchup, completing 38 of 52 passes for 388 yards and two touchdowns... Former WR Kale Turner had an 88-yard touchdown on an end-around.
The 2005 game featured a crisp high of 37 degrees, not far from this week's predicted "high" of 33.
Bob Biggs (UC Davis `73) is in his 20th season and final season at the helm of the Aggies and his 35th with the program overall.
He owns a 143-84-1 (.632) overall record and is 66-59-0 (.532) against NCAA Div. I (FBS, FCS) teams... Biggs is also 45-29 (.703) in November, and 63-55 (.534) in road games
Biggs is the second-winningest coach in the history of the UC Davis program, trailing only Jim Sochor whose 156-41-5 record between 1970-88 led to his enshrinement into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Four of Biggs' QB's have gone on to play professional football, including QB J.T. O'SULLIVAN (1998-2001) and former San Jose SaberCats (AFL) starter MARK GRIEB (1994-96)... Others include KHARI JONES (1991-93) who had a standout career in the Canadian Football League and Kevin Daft (1995-98) who was a reserve on the Tennessee Titans when they went to the Super Bowl XXXIV... Daft is now an assistant coach at with the Aggies.
BEAU BALDWIN (Cen. Washington `96) is 40-18 and in his fifth season at Eastern Washington... He coached one year at his alma mater and owns a 50-21 overall mark as head coach in six seasons.
His career so far has been highlighted by the 2010 NCAA Div. I FCS Championship in which the Eagles finished 13-2 and edged Villanova (20-19) for the title.
Baldwin's 19-year career as both an assistant and head coach has resulted in two national titles and six conference championships.
EASTERN WASHINGTON SCOUTING REPORT
The Eagles enter the weekend having won six of their past seven games and having not been held to less than 27 points in any of them... They're averaging 30.9 ppg, 18th among FCS teams.
The offense is ranked 17th (439.1 ypg) with much of the production coming from the passing game which is ranked 15th (286.9 ypg).
QB VERNON ADAMS and QB KYLE PADRON have split much of the time behind center with Adams throwing for 1,362 yards and 14 touchdowns, and Padron picking up 1,208 yards and seven scores.
Adams, who also averages 5.3 yards a rush, is ranked eighth in passing efficiency (155.1), having completed 63.6 percent of his passes so far.
Their main target has been WR BRANDON KAUFMAN who has 51 catches for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns... His 111.1 ypg put him ninth nationally while his 5.7 receptions per game put him in a tie for 35th.
Adams threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns and Kaufman had 88 yards and two scores from four catches during the Eagles' 34-17 win against ranked Cal Poly last weekend.
The running game, which averages 152.2 ypg, had an impressive effort against the Mustangs, picking up 254 yards... RB QUINCY FORTE had 83 yards on 15 carries while RB DEMETRIUS BRONSON finished with 82 on 17 carries.
Defensively, Eastern Washington is allowing 383.1 ypg in total offense (66th), split between the pass (224.0 ypg, 72nd) and the run (159.1 ypg, 63rd).
The Eagles' pass rush, led by DE JERRY CEJA who has 9.0 sacks for 63 yards, is ranked 18th nationally with 2.7 sacks per game... Ceja is T-6th among all FCS players.
S JORDAN TONANI leads the team with a pair of interceptions, returning one of them for a touchdown.
LB RONNIE HAMLIN leads the way with 90 tackles so far, including 53 solo, while LB GRANT WILLIAMS is the next closest with 60... Hamlin had 15 tackles (13 solo) against Montana State earlier this season and followed two games later with 13 stops at Southern Utah.
The Eagles allowed just three points in a 20-3 win over FBS Idaho in the opener but since then have not given up fewer than 17... They're allowing 21.7 ppg overall, ranking them 38th.
P JAKE MILLER (43.5 avg.) is ranked eighth while K JIMMY PAVEL is T-4th in field goals (1.7 pg)... Pavel has made 15 of 16 this season with a long of 47 yards... He had four field goals against Weber State early in the season.
NEWS, NOTES FROM THE PORTLAND STATE GAME
The Aggies never led in the game but tied it twice after falling behind by a touchdown two times in the first half... The Vikings outscored UC Davis 35-7 in the second half.
P Colton Schmidt averaged 44.8 yards on six punts, putting four inside the 20 and kicking a long of 68 yards.
UC Davis ran 85 plays, its second-highest total of the season... It's 15 first downs by passing were the Aggies' most for 2012.
The Aggies' last three drives, and four of their final five, ended in turnovers... Their four turnovers tied the loss at San Jose State for most this year.
S AARYN JONES had a game-high and career-high 10 tackles, six of them solo.
WR Anthony Soto caught a pair of touchdown passes (5, 15 yds) for the second time in his career... He was also the last UC Davis player to catch two, doing so at South Dakota last season.
RB MARQUIS NICOLIS' rushing touchdown was his first of the season and second of his career.
SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTED BY RANKED FOES
Eastern Washington marks the third-ranked opponent for UC Davis this season, a list that also includes then No. 2 Montana State and then No. 15 Northern Arizona.
Those teams have remained in the rankings while previous opponents South Dakota State (No. 16) and Cal Poly (No. 19) have moved into the top 25 since facing the Aggies.
It's not a surprise then that UC Davis currently has the seventh-toughest FCS schedule and the toughest in the Big Sky Conference.
OPPONENTS RED-HOT IN RED-ZONE
Aggie opponents have been heating up in the red-zone over the past four games, going a perfect 12-for-12 during that time while scoring 100 points (13 TD's, 3 FG's).
Montana State and Idaho State were each 6 for 6, Northern Arizona was 1 for 1 and Portland State finished 3 for 3.
Their performances have led the Aggies to fall to 105th in FCS red-zone defense with a season percentage of 87.5 percent (23 TD's 5 FG's; 28 of 32 overall for 175 pts).
Conversely, UC Davis is 28 of 32 (.824) and has very similar numbers overall: 171 pts, 22 TD's. 6 FG's)... The Aggies are T-52nd in red-zone offense.
CAUSEWAY CLASSIC SET FOR CENTER STAGE
The 59th Causeway Classic will cap the 2012 season next week, featuring a renewal of the unrivaled local rivalry, recognition of the Aggies' senior class, and tributes to retiring head coach Bob Biggs.
The annual Causeway Classic Luncheon and accompanying media news conference, is scheduled for The Doubletree Inn in Sacramento on Thursday.
The game will be aired on Comcast SportsNet California with ROXY BERNSTEIN (play-by-play), MIKE LAMB (analyst) and DAN DIBLEY (sidelines)... Kickoff is scheduled for 3:08 p.m.
INDIVIDUAL NCAA RANKINGS
Here's a listing of Aggies ranked among NCAA players:
Rushing - 78. (63.9 ypg)
Passing efficiency - 68th (122.7)
Total offense - 54th (207.9)
Punting - 7th (43.6)
Kickoff returns - 58th - 21.88
Field goals - T-27th (1.1 pg)
Scoring - T-86th (6.44)
Sacks - T-68th (0.50)
TFL's - T-46th (1.2 pg)
Sacks - T-68th (0.50)
DAVIES EARNS NFF SCHOLAR-ATHLETE RECOGNITION
OL Sean Davies was named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award earlier this season, a tribute to his outstanding academic, athletics and leadership achievements.
Davies has started all 41 games of his Aggie career, is a Dean's List honoree as a history and political science double-major, and serves as a team captain while also contributing to the team's varied community service projects.
Only one nominee was permitted per NCAA Div. I FBS and FCS, Div. II, Div. III and NAIA institution. A total of 147 were named semifinalists while 15 were named in October as NFF Scholar-Athletes as well as finalists for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy.
GRUENDL, GLASS ARE THE AGGIES' G-MEN
LB Byron Gruendl and LB Jordan Glass are forming a potent 1-2 punch on the defensive side of the ball, combining for 131 tackles through the first nine games.
Glass has 67, including a team-best 34 assists while GRUENDL has 64, including a team-high 42 solo stops. Gruendl had a career-high 15 tackles at Cal Poly on Sept. 22 while Glass had 11 against Montana State two weeks later.
Both have interceptions as well... Gruendl had two picks against Weber State on Sept. 29 while Glass got his first against Montana State, turning it into a seven-yard pick-six, before adding another last week at Northern Arizona.
They tied for the team lead last year with 68 stops each.
PUNTING GAME A WEAPON WITH SCHMIDT
The year before P Colton Schmidt arrived at UC Davis, the Aggies struggled mightily in the punting department, averaging just 33.4 yards per kick and have five of them blocked.
Since then, Schmidt has moved among the elite ranks of all-time punters at UC Davis... He averaged 40.1 yards per kick over his first three years, including a school-record 42.3 yards last season.
His true freshman year was just as impressive when he averaged 39.1 yards.
Schmidt entered the year having pinned 56 kicks inside the 20, last year had 13 punts go at least 50 yards, booted a 67-yarder as a freshman and a year later set a school record with a 78-yard punt at North Dakota.
He's currently ahead of the school record held by Chris Shibel (40.72 from 2001-04)... Schmidt's currently at 40.81.
He's averaging 43.6 ypg (7th in FCS) while helping the Aggies net 40.0 yards (1st)... Schmidt is currently ranked 15th among FCS punters for career average... His 219 punts are third-most among active FCS punters.
VETERANS ACROSS THE OFFENSIVE LINE
UC Davis features four-fifths of its starting offensive line from last season with all four returners starting every game they played... T Ian Joseph, OG Sean Davies and OG Jimmy Kunkel each started all 11 games in the season while C Ray Wilburn got the starting nod in all 10 games he played... They've continued their starting streaks in 2012.
WRIGHT MOVING UP TOP 10 LISTS
QB Randy Wright recently over the 6,000-yard career mark for passing yards, just the seventh Aggie to ever do so... He now has 6,627 total yards, passing QB Greg Denham (6,435 yds; 2007-09) for fifth during the Portland State game ... Former NFL Pro Bowler QB KEN O'BRIEN had 6,637 from 1980-82 and is next up after Denham... After that, it's a bit to get to Kevin Daft (7,601, 1995-98) for fourth.
Wright's 562 completions (5th) and 965 attempts (5th) are already in the top 10 while his 40 touchdowns makes him T-8th on that list.
He's currently ranked 14th among active FCS quarterbacks for passing yards per game (213.8), and 14th for career yards and 16th for completions.
KASPAR GOES HEAD UP AGAINST BROTHER
DT Anthony Kaspar had the unique opportunity to go head-to-head with his younger brother, NICHOLAS, an offensive guard for San Jose State, when the teams met on Sept. 8.
The two were lined up across from each other most of the game as they faced each other in an official game for the first times in their careers.
UC Davis owns an all-time record of 491--374-33 (.565) as it plays its 94th season of football... The Aggies started playing in 1915 and have played continuously except for 1918, and 1943-45.
A total of 15 head coaches, beginning with R.E. HARMON (1915-16) have directed the Aggies' program with College Football Hall of Fame Inductee JIM SOCHOR (1969-88) winning a program-best 156 games.
Since opening Aggie Stadium in 2007, the Aggies have gone 18-12 (.600) including a 3-2 mark last season.
The Aggies are debuting in their fifth conference since 1925 and their first new conference since 2004... They joined the Great West Conference in `04 and were eight-year members of the league along with Cal Poly and Southern Utah who now join them in the Big Sky Conference.
The Aggies are no strangers to conference success, having won outright or shared 20 consecutive titles from 1971-1990 in the Far Western Conference and Northern California Athletic Conference.
UC Davis' conference affiliation: Far Western Conference (1925-81), NCAC (1982-92), American West (1993) and Great West (2004-2011).
NEW COACHES WELCOMED TO STAFF
Aggie coach Bob Biggs welcomed three new coaches to his staff for the upcoming season including one he used to coach.
Kevin Daft, a standout QB for the Aggies in the mid-1990's who was drafted by the Tennesee Titans in 1999, returns to his alma mater to as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach... Daft was most recently an assistant at Cal.
WILL COFE joins as a coach on the defensive line... The former Arizona State player and Sun Devils alum came to the Aggies from Pacific University in Oregon where he assisted former Aggie assistant Keith Buckley restart that Div. III program.
Damaro Wheeler spent the last two years at Div. II powerhouse Central Washington as a graduate assistant and will oversee the Aggie cornerbacks this season... He also brings collegiate experience from Southern Oregon (2007-09).