MISSOULA — The calendar has reached the time of year where temperatures drop and snow begins to fall, meaning it’s time for Montana’s greatest rivalry, as Montana and Montana State clash on the football fields this Saturday.
The Bobcats and Grizzlies enter the regular-season finale with serious playoff implications on the line. Both teams are 4-3 in Big Sky Conference play and 6-4 overall, with the winner flirting with a potential playoff berth.
The Grizzlies lead the all-time series with 72 wins compared to 39 losses. The programs have also tied five times. But it’s Montana State that has bested its rival in recent years, winning the past two Cat-Griz showdowns. The wins in 2016 and 2017 are MSU’s first back-to-back victories in the series since the Bobcats won in 2002 and 2003.
This weekend’s contest will add another chapter to the 121-year rivalry, and both coaches have an appreciation for the longstanding match-up.
“Teams that don’t have a traditional rival are missing out on something pretty cool and we do (have a traditional rival),” said Montana head football coach Bobby Hauck. “We actually have a couple of them, we played one (the University of Idaho) last week. Certainly, the in-state rivalry games are the top one for us and we’re lucky we have a great rivalry.”
“Nothing else in the Big Sky Conference really compares to this, so if you’re recruiting against other Big Sky schools you are saying, ‘The third Saturday in November you get a chance to do this every year, and this is something that’s totally unique, different and special,’” said Montana State head coach Jeff Choate.
Saturday’s kickoff, the 118th between the two programs, is scheduled for a noon kickoff at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on ROOT Sports.
Click here for more coverage leading up to Saturday’s big game from montanasports.com.
-Jack Ginsburg reporting for MTN Sports