Nov 13, 2012 11:41 PM by Derek Buerkle - KPAX Sports
MISSOULA - University of Montana Grizzly football will soon experience a very strange reality.
The powerful program that is so used to deep runs in the FCS playoffs, knows for a fact that their season will end this Saturday, win or lose.
But even with no postseason hopes to play for, the Griz will have no trouble getting motivated. Because the Bobcats are coming to town.
"I think the guys are really, really anxious. As is everybody," said head coach Mick Delaney on Tuesday. "You know, this is a game you don't have to say much. It's you know put up or shut up so to speak."
The Grizzly-Bobcat rivalry always provides intrigue and ends with consequences. Regardless of records, seasons are made and broken in the annual clash.
Many of the current players grew up bleeding maroon and silver or blue and gold. In fact, Montana's new starting quarterback recalls one cold Saturday a decade ago, when his invincible Grizzlies finally fell to MSU.
"I can remember when the Griz were on that long win streak, and the first time they lost," said Shay Smithwick-Hann when asked about his memories of the rivalry. "I just went outside. I was crying, throwing the football against the wall. So I don't want any little kids to have to experience, and little Griz fan to have to experience that feeling after Saturday."
For the Grizzly seniors, this is the end of the road. But one more win would give them a 3-1 career record against the Bobcats. And more importantly, would leave a better legacy for future UM teams to follow.
"We are definitely disappointed in what our record is," said tight end Greg Hardy. "Me as a senior, being my last game, this is just one more opportunity to show guys like this is what is expected of Montana. We are expected to come in, and we are going to fight you until the end."
The Grizzlies also need a win to avoid their first losing season since 1985. A Bobcats win would give them at least a share of their third straight Big Sky title. And of course, bragging rights for an entire year are up for grabs. Montana and Montana State kickoff for the 112th time at 1:30 this Saturday in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.