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No. 2 Montana State set for nationally televised showdown at No. 3 Sacramento State

Montana State vs. Cal Poly
Posted at 1:16 PM, Oct 19, 2023

BOZEMAN — No. 2-ranked Montana State is coming off a 59-19 win over Cal Poly in Week 7 and now turns its attention to a top-five showdown at No. 3 Sacramento State on Saturday.

The Bobcats are the only undefeated team remaining in the Big Sky Conference, but they're not letting rankings or records get in the way of the task at hand: winning one game at a time.

"Just taking it one week at a time," Bobcats quarterback Sean Chambers said. "I don’t think we’re really looking at records right now, that doesn’t really matter to us. I think we’re just looking to go 1-0 every week."

Bobcats defensive tackle Blake Schmidt echoed his teammate's thoughts.

"We got to really put our foot on the gas pedal here because this is the point in the season where great teams separate themselves, and good teams just stay good teams," he said. "So, I mean, we got to take care of our bodies, come out as hard as we can and take it one week at a time."

The Bobcats totaled 335 yards on the ground in their win over Cal Poly with Chambers exploding for three rushing touchdowns, one coming from 65 yards.

He takes a lot of pride in how he runs, fighting for every yard he can get for his team.

"I kind of get frustrated with quarterbacks around the nation that kind of like slide and don’t like put it out there for their team," Chambers said. "That’s just not who I am. ... I think those guys appreciate how me and Tommy (Mellott) run and put it on the line because they’re doing the same thing for us."

The run game for the Bobcats is so dominant, because, put simply, it's very hard to defend. They spread the field with multiple weapons on offense.

"I think we have a run game that you have to defend us sideline to sideline, and typically that’s not always the case," Bobcats coach Brent Vigen said. "A lot of times, run games exist between the tackles. You get some things off the edge to a tight end's side that can accumulate, but by and large our run game is challenging."

The team also flexed its throwing ability against Cal Poly. Ty McCullouch had 119 receiving yards, a main target for both Chambers and Tommy Mellott.

"I think everyone knows we can run the ball, and I think we know we can run the ball," Chambers said. "We need to work on the pass game, and that’s what we set out to work on the past couple weeks here. And I thought we did a good job of it. We’re not there yet, where we want to be, but we’re working on it. We’re getting better every week with it, so that’s exciting.”

On the other side of the ball, the defense is holding opponents to an average of less than 17 points per game, the most being 22 this season. It's a standard they’ve held and worked on since preseason.

"We always have that confidence that we’re going to win the game, and we’re going to dominate," Schmidt said. "A lot of that shows up here at practice on a Monday or through the week. Just, the scout team gives us a good look, and that’s going as hard as we can during those practice games."

This will be Vigen’s first game in his tenure as MSU head coach against last year’s Big Sky co-champions.

"Been very impressed with them, both offense and defense, and ... working through this coaching transition, you don’t see that really affecting them too much," he said.

Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. (MT) Saturday in Sacramento, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.