STANFORD -- There is plenty of buzz when a school like UC Davis or Sacramento State upsets a big school, as the Aggies did in 2005 in their one-for-the-ages, last-second comeback win against Stanford or when the Hornets beat Oregon State in overtime in 2011 and Colorado on a late field goal in 2012.
But there’s also the more common flip side for Football Championship Subdivision teams in their matchups with the big boys from the Football Bowl Subdivision: They often get an old-fashioned beatdown.
That’s what the Aggies experienced Saturday in falling 45-0 to No. 11 Stanford in the season opener.
The Cardinal’s Kevin Hogan threw touchdown passes of 52, 44 and 40 yards and ran for a 1-yard score before taking a seat early in the third quarter.
All-America candidate Ty Montgomery returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown and caught a 44-yard touchdown pass as Stanford built a 38-0 halftime lead. The Cardinal, which scored on four drives of 53 or fewer seconds, had 461 total yards.
Stanford limited UC Davis to 115 yards, forced three turnovers and had four sacks for minus 28 yards and eight tackles for 32 yards in losses.
The Aggies’ defense didn’t play badly. Darryl Graham and Russell Reeder recovered fumbles, Keleen Culberson made an interception and Charles Boyett forced a fumble and recorded a game-high nine tackles. But UC Davis coach Ron Gould said the defense was on the field too long.
“It’s a great learning experience for us,” Gould said. “We played arguably the best team in the nation. There’s some good things. Our defense played, I thought, extremely well.”
It was the first meeting between the schools since UC Davis stunned the Cardinal 20-17 nine years ago at Stanford Stadium. But that Cardinal team was nowhere as talented as this one.
The gulf between the top teams in NCAA Division I like Stanford and those in the lower tiers, like UCD and Sac State, has widened plenty in recent years.
With the anticipated creation of an NCAA quasi-independent federation of the nation’s top five football conferences, which includes the Pacific-12, those David vs. Goliath matchups may soon end because of strength-of-schedule issues.
That could be costly for athletic programs like UC Davis, which received $350,000 for playing Stanford.
Cardinal coach David Shaw hopes such games don’t disappear.
“I would love for us all to have the same scheduling rules – to say whether you can play one FCS or two FCS schools and how many conference and out-of-conference games we should play,” Shaw said of the so-called Big Five.
“I would hate to hurt the FCS so much that nobody plays against FCS anymore. That’s a lot of money those schools need to survive.”
“Absolutely. I think it’s good for our program, I think it’s good for our kids, and I’d like to continue with these kind of games as well,” Gould said.
“I think it sets the tone for where we want to go, where we want to build and how we want to build this thing. As I told coach Shaw today, I’ve got so much respect for him and his program.
“We, too, aspire to be the Stanford of the FCS. So for our players to have the opportunity to see and compete in this environment, I think it’s great for us.”
Though disappointed, UC Davis senior quarterback London Lacy, who made his first career start and played under intense pressure, still wants the opportunity to play against the best, even if the Aggies are even longer long shots.
“Stanford is a great team,” Lacy said. “As a team, we’re competitive. Any situation we’re put in, we are going to fight as hard as we can.”
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.