A ‘Brawl of the Wild’ like no other between Griz, Cats
(Montana Sports Information) In a game that needs no added superlatives, the magnitude of the 122nd edition of the Montana/Montana State rivalry football game – the Brawl of the Wild – simply cannot be overstated.
To the victor go the spoils. The spoils being an outright Big Sky Conference championship trophy, the 306-pound Great Divide Trophy, a likely No. 2 playoff seed and home-field advantage in the postseason, and, oh yeah, bragging rights that every Montanan will lean on for the next 364 days.
For the first time ever, amazingly, it’s also a top-five showdown, with the Griz entering the week ranked No. 3 in both FCS polls and MSU sitting right behind them at No. 4.
Montana (9-1, 6-1 BSC) enters Saturday’s contest on a roll, winners of six straight with three ranked road wins and outscoring their previous three opponents by a combined 108-17.
Montana State (8-2, 6-1 BSC) is also gaining momentum, recovering from a narrow loss at Idaho to earn two dominant home wins over Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington in the last two weeks.
With both teams at the top of the table, it’s a clash of the league’s top offenses – one ground-based and one balanced – as well as two of the stoutest defenses in the country.
It’s a rivalry game loaded with import, high on implications, rich with tradition, and as vitriolic as they come, and it all kicks off at Noon on Saturday, with the eyes of the FCS world focused squarely on Missoula.
IMPLICATIONS: Bragging rights? Sure. A first-round bye in the playoffs? Likely. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Montana and Montana State play this week for all the marbles. With the Griz and Cats both entering the game at 6-1 in Big Sky play, the winner of Saturday’s game will be the outright Big Sky Conference Champion.
With UM at 9-1 and MSU 8-2 overall, a potential No. 2 seed and all-important home-field advantage through the playoffs is also on the table for the winner, having massive implications through the month of December.
While UM is likely to extend its FCS record 27th trip to the postseason in the coming weeks, first things first.
A win for the Griz will give Montana (picked 3rd and 6th in the preseason polls) its first conference title since 2009, when Hauck was in his first tenure at UM. The Griz would then have wins over four then-ranked teams this season and would be in the driver’s seat for a No. 2 overall seed behind undefeated South Dakota St.
A loss for UM would put Montana in the runner-up position on the league table for the first time since 2019.
Just win baby.
POSTSEAON POSSIBILITIES: Montana will learn its playoff fate during the FCS Playoff Selection Show on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 10:30 a.m. (MT), broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
24 teams will be selected for the FCS Championship. The winner of the Big Sky earns one of 10 automatic qualifications, while the remaining 14 will be picked at large.
The first round of the playoffs starts Nov. 25, the second round will be held Dec. 2, the Quarterfinals are set for Dec. 8 and 9, and the Semifinals Dec. 15 and 16. The National Championship is once again set for Frisco, Texas, and will be played on Sunday, Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. on ABC.