BOZEMAN — Not much needs to be said about the Cat-Griz rivalry. This Saturday marks the 117th installment of Montana’s Super Bowl — a tradition that began 120 years ago.
“I don’t think there’s going to need to be a whole lot of rah-rah speeches in the locker room on either side before the game on Saturday,” said Montana State head coach Jeff Choate.
Montana leads the all-time series by a comfortable 72-38-5 margin, but the Divide Trophy currently sits in Bozeman for the first time since 2013. MSU’s win last season spoiled the Grizzlies’ playoff chances.
“I don’t know that they respected us very much a year ago,” Choate said. “That probably led to the result and the outcome. … If we’ve got (nothing) else, we’ve got their attention.”
At 7-3, Montana is in a similar situation to last fall — a Grizzlies’ win would likely mean a berth in the FCS playoffs. The Bobcats played spoiler last year, but aren’t focusing on ruining the party.
“This is about Montana State and our players,” Choate said. “If we start to worry about them too much, we’re not going to be focused on what we need to be focused on.”
If the Cats are paying more attention to the game plan rather than the game’s implications, all eyes should be on Montana freshman quarterback Gresch Jensen.
“He’s completing his passes at 60 percent,” Choate said. “He’s doing a nice job taking care of the ball, by-and-large — 19 touchdowns (to) nine interceptions.”
This is the second straight year that a freshman quarterback has played a major role in this game. Last year, it was MSU’s Chris Murray making an impact. The win in Missoula was a momentum-builder for a young Montana State program, and that momentum has carried into this season. Although the wins and losses don’t turn any heads, the Bobcats are just a few plays away from a significantly better record.
One thing is for sure — the Cats are making every game a dog fight, and Montana will head into Bozeman expecting much of the same.
“You line (the teams) up and schedule them,” Choate said. “Any time, any place, anywhere, and you better be ready for a ballgame.”