Player to watch and game information for Montana State-Montana |
TIME, DAY, LOCATION: Saturday noon, Washington-Grizzly Stadium, Missoula
TV: ROOT Sports Northwest, AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain, AT&T Sports Net Pittsburgh (available on DirecTV but not Dish Network), ESPN + outside the ROOT footprint
RADIO: Bobcat radio network, msubobcats.com
WEATHER: 44 degrees, partly cloudy
Montana State: Brent Vigen
CHECK-IN: 9-1; YEAR: First
Vigen arrived at MSU after seven seasons as Wyoming’s offensive coordinator. He was an assistant in several roles, including that of offensive coordinator, before that in the state of North Dakota.
Montana: Bobby Hauck
REGISTRATION: 104-28; YEAR: 10
Hauck has the most wins as a coach in Grizzlies history, including his first stint in Montana from 2003-2009. After a 15-49 tenure at UNLV, Hauck led the Grizzlies to a winning record. in their last three seasons.
MONTANA STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH
1 – Matthew McKay – QB
McKay had an efficient pass through all areas of the pitch and returned the ball once in his first seven games. However, he has made four turnovers in the last three games. MSU will be looking to have a reliable passing game, so McKay is hoping to bounce back.
76 – Lewis Kidd – OL
Kidd is the anchor for Big Sky’s best rushing attack and has helped the Bobcats allow just 14 sacks this season, the FCS’s 26th under. He will be especially important to protect McKay and fuel MSU’s ground attack with right tackle TJ Session missing due to injury.
7 – Ty Okada – DB
Okada is one of the best tacklers in the Big Sky. His 63 tackles trailing only Troy Andersen for the team lead, and his two interceptions are tied for most on the Bobcats. Okada will aim to keep Montana’s passing attack out of sync.
MONTANA PLAYERS TO WATCH
13 – Xavier Harris – RB
Harris, who recovered from his own injury two games ago, has been the most productive player in a exhausted position. He leads the Griz with 68.7 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry to go with a rushing score.
18 – Samuel Akem – WR / TE
Akem is one of the biggest receivers UM has seen. He is second in school history with 27 touchdowns, fifth with 183 receptions and seventh with 2,546 receiving yards. Akem is averaging 62.3 receiving yards in the last four games and will be looking to keep the momentum going.
58 – Pat O’Connell – LB
O’Connell was a disruptive force in the backfield, ranking fifth in the FCS with 1.15 sacks per game and eighth with 1.8 tackles for loss per game. His 18 sacks are the 11th most in MU history, while his 27.5 TFL are 16th.
– Montana State has won four straight rivalry series victories for the first time since 1972-77, winning four of Cat-Griz’s last five games played in Missoula.
– MSU’s five wins at Washington-Grizzly Stadium are the second visiting team, behind East Washington (six). The Bobcats are averaging 200.2 rushing yards in their five wins at Washington-Grizzly Stadium and 100 in their 12 losses.
– Brent Vigen’s nine wins are the most important in MSU history by a first-year Bobcats coach.
–Lance McCutcheon’s three 100-yard games this year are tied for ninth in MSU history, and 16 of his 47 catches have been for over 20 yards.
– MSU is fifth in the FCS with 160.8 passing yards allowed per game.
– Montana State held its 10 2021 opponents under 21 points and 355 yards.
– MSU has the Big Sky’s best rushing offense (230.8 yards per game) while Montana allows 73 rushing yards per game, the best in the league.
– Montana is second in the FCS for kickoff return distance with 29.3 yards per return. The Bobcats are 10th in the FCS, first in the Big Sky, with 15.7 yards per return allowed.
– Montana State nabbed a position in the Big Sky standings above UM with its victory over Idaho, marking the fourth straight season the Bobcats have finished no worse than tied in the league standings with their rival.
THE LOWER LINE
These ‘Cat-Griz’ rivalry games have often been demanding challenges for both teams in suspenseful competitions. In a clash between two FCS top-eight ranked programs, both vying for the best possible playoff position, this game looks no different.
A defensive battle seems imminent. Both rushed attacks will be directed against strong defensive fronts. If either quarterback can get a pace, it could provide a crucial score. But in the end, Montana State should have the defensive prowess to keep the Grizzlies out of the end zone enough to win.
Pool Pick: Montana State 21, Montana 20