GREAT FALLS -- Montana State is back in the FCS semifinals for the first time since 1984. That Bobcat team went on to win a national championship, which everyone remembers.
But a footnote that many don't remember (selectively or otherwise) was the 1983 Bobcats finishing 1-10. But according to Bobcat Hall of Fame linebacker Kirk Timmer, that one win was a big one, and it set MSU up for success the following year.
“Going into that 1984 season, no one expected us to do anything,” said Timmer, the program's all-time leader in career tackles. “In fact, our coach (Dave Arnold) will be the first to tell you, the only reason they brought him back in that 1984 season was because we beat the Grizzlies, and a lot of people didn’t expect that.”
MSU started the 1984 season 2-2 before reeling off 10 straight wins on the way to a national title.
“We lost to Eastern Washington and Idaho State and as the season progressed, you could see that confidence grow and that confidence build,” Timmer explained. “To the point where at the end of the season our last game was against Fresno State, a bigger school. We beat them right before the playoffs, and by that point we felt like we were unbeatable.”
Timmer says he sees the same thing in the 2019 Bobcats under head coach Jeff Choate.
“They show a confidence that I think some of the past teams kind of lacked,” Timmer said. “You see from just the way they play to how they carry themselves, that confidence. There's nothing more dangerous than a team that has confidence, especially going into the end of the season.
“I think this team is starting to show that. I think this weekend (against North Dakota State) will be a great test for them. I think there are a lot of parallels between this team and our team back in the day."
Montana State and North Dakota State kick off at noon (MST) Saturday.