MISSOULA — The Brawl of Wild is quickly approaching, and with the annual showdown between Montana’s best only days away the Griz shared their thoughts before heading into Bozeman.
"I assume we’ll be an underdog in the game," said coach Bobby Hauck. "But we’ve beaten this opponent 73 times in the history of this rivalry and outside of Nebraska's 91 over Kansas I don’t know if there’s a Division I team with more wins over one opponent, so we kind of have a feeling like we ought to win this game too."
The Cats hold only 41 wins to the Grizzlies' 73 in the game's history, but in recent years it's become a more even matchup. MSU has won five of the past 10 meetings — meaning it's only grown in importance to the players.
"Means a lot to every Montana guy and the out of stater guys learn very quickly how much it means to them as well and how big of a game it is," said team captain and wide receiver Mitch Roberts.
Fellow team captain Robby Hauck arguably understands the rivalry more than most — his family is embedded in Griz history.
"I think as soon as you step foot into this program you realize pretty quick how big this game is so it kind of just speaks for itself," said Hauck with a smile.
And the magnitude of the game is reflected through the heightened energy and emotions from everyone involved.
"You know it’s a lot of fun so the emotions get high and everybody wants to win," said Hauck. "It makes a great game and a great rivalry."
And when it comes to prepping for the game the expectations couldn’t be higher.
"Prepare like no one ever has prepared for a game like this," said captain and linbacker Patrick O’Connell. "Then in the game you've just got to stay even, you can’t get too high on the good plays and you can’t get too low on the bad plays. You can’t make the game like a roller coaster, you just got to stay even keeled the whole game and that’s the biggest part."
Despite all the hype going in, Hauck knows at the end of the day it’s all business.
"We’re talking about a lot of the hype around this game but for our guys it’s about execution and technique and playing hard, which they will," said Hauck. "So will the other team so it comes down to execution."
The Griz will be taking on the Bobcats in Bozeman on Saturday at noon for the battle of state supremacy in the 121st matchup between the programs.