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Top-5 Showdown: No. 3 Montana State faces toughest opponent yet in No. 5 Weber State

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Posted at 7:30 AM, Oct 21, 2022

BOZEMAN — With just two home games left on their schedule, No. 3 Montana State (6-1, 4-0) is back at Bobcat Stadium this Saturday for a Top 5 matchup against No. 5 Weber State (6-0, 4-0) who continues to move up in the FCS rankings as they remain one of the only undefeated teams left in the division.

While playing at home is definitely an advantage for Montana State, winning 16 straight inside Bobcat Stadium and one win away from setting a program recording, head coach Brent Vigen made it very clear this week that even though their crowd is a benefiting factor, they will also need to play at a level of football that they have not reached yet this season.

“We’re going to have to play our best to this very point," Vigen stated during Monday's presser. "They’re good on offense, defense, special teams — all the way around. We’re going to have to be able to match that. I’m glad the game is going to be played here at home, but that doesn’t guarantee us anything, but it will be a fantastic atmosphere I’m sure and we’re looking forward to it and preparing like crazy.”

After missing the playoffs last fall for the first time since 2015, Weber State has been on a revenge tour this fall returning more than half their starters, including two-time all-American Josh Davis who has already amassed 338 rushing yards and two touchdowns despite missing Week 7 with an injury.

However, he’s not the only running back the Wildcats have been utilizing this fall. Sophomore Damon Bankston leads the team with 388 yards and four touchdowns, while sophomore Dontae McMillan has recorded 263 yards and four touchdowns.

“They’re playing really three tailbacks right now, and I think they all have their different style," Vigen explained. "They have really good skills, and they’re not so dependent on any one particular guy at the same time, so a lot of weapons, and obviously saying all that they’re good up front.”

Their offensive line has only given up five sacks this fall for the lowest total in the Big Sky, allowing quarterback Bronson Barron to lead a balanced, but explosive offense under their new coordinator Mickey Mental.

“What they’ve added is the RPO element which that really wasn’t a part of their offense prior, so he’s making really good decisions and he’s accurate with the football," Vigen said. "We’re obviously going to have to do things to make him feel uncomfortable. Get him in third and longs, hopefully, a bunch of times, and get the stadium real loud and have him deal with that, too.”

Weber State touts one of the nation’s top-scoring defenses holding opponents to an average of 11 points per game.

The Wildcats also have the most intercepted balls (12) in the Big Sky this season, with defensive back Maxwell Andersen leading the way with five.

“They’ll mix in some zone, but their bread and butter is playing man. It’s our hope that we can separate at times and we can win a few 50/50s, because I  know we can have some guys that do that. A lot of our success in the passing game will be predicated on just our guys winning those battles.”

Montana State versus Weber State kicks off Saturday at 1 p.m, which will be broadcasted on the CW Montana and ESPN+.