MISSOULA AND BOZEMAN – It’s cliche, but it’s true. You can throw the records out when the Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats get together. Of course, this year they have the exact same record heading into Saturday’s showdown. Both teams sit 4-3 in league play, and 6-4 overall.
And the similarities extend further. In the Big Sky Conference, the Griz are fourth (34.8) and the Cats fifth (29.6) in scoring. On defense the Cats give up the third fewest points (27.9), while the Griz are fourth (28.5).
So as MSU head coach Jeff Choate says, the game will probably come down to a few huge plays. UM head coach Bobby Hauck knows his young team will have to get used to playing in the pressure-packed game quickly.
“They’ve got 24 juniors and seniors in their two deep, which is I think about our number of freshmen,” said Hauck. “They are far more veteran than we are. Certainly that is a great advantage in this game.”
“We all kind of are who we are after 10 games,” said Choate. “What you see on film is what you’re going to get. They are not going to invent a new defense to stop what we do. We can’t invent a new defense to stop what they do. We’ve got to go execute at a high level. It’s going to come down to probably things like turnovers, special teams, momentum swings, explosive plays, how guys handle the elements.”
Choate is a perfect two for two against the rival Grizzlies. Of course, he’s going against Hauck for the first time. The Montana coach went 5-2 against MSU in his first stint.
They’ll collide at noon this Saturday in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.