MISSOULA – This week, the Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats collide for the 117th time. The game will settle bragging rights and friendly wagers all over the state, but Montana’s chance to keep playing is also on the line.
With a 7-3 record, the Griz currently look like they’d be in the FCS bracket. Most projections agree Montana should get a spot. No Big Sky Conference team with eight Division I wins has missed out since the playoffs expanded to 24 teams.
But this year is extremely crowded with deserving options, so a loss to the Cats would most likely knock Montana out of the postseason, and even a win doesn’t give UM a guarantee.
The Griz won’t worry about what they can’t control, but they do admit this trip to Bozeman comes with added pressure.
“It’s not something we really talk about, but we know we’ve been in playoff mode for the past few weeks, ever since we went down to Weber (State),” said defensive end Tucker Schye. Montana suffered a 41-27 to Weber State three weeks ago.
“It’s in the back of your mind,” Schye continued, “but we expect to go out and win all of the time.”
“I think we’ve got a very good football team,” said head coach Bob Stitt.
Then Stitt continued by campaigning for his team to get a playoff spot if it beats the Bobcats: “(If) you’re sitting 8-3, and you lose to two top-20 teams and an FBS top 25 football team, you belong in the tournament. So we’ve kind of been in that mode where we just have got to keep having success and winning ball games, and we want this thing to go for a while.”
The Cats ended the Grizzlies’ playoff hopes with an upset win last year, and MSU would like to do the same this weekend.
But Montana has won the past five times the rivals have played in Bozeman. They’ll kick off at noon Saturday in Bobcat Stadium.