Montana State at Montana
When: Saturday, November 17, 12:00 PM MST
Where: Washington-Grizzly Stadium, Missoula, Mont.
TV/Streaming: ROOT Sports NW/DirecTV Audience Network (Ch. 101)/DISH Studio (Ch. 102)
Montana State Bobcats (6-4, 4-3 Big Sky)
Montana State brings a diverse, multiple ground game on offense to this game. The Bobcats starting the season almost fully running the ball most of the time.
But in the past three games, the Bobcats have opened the passing a little more and statistically have been close to even in passing and receiving yardage. Having a more balanced attack has proven to help in the in column as Montana State has won its last two contents.
Montana State also hopes recent history is on its side as it has won two games in a row over the Grizzlies, while Montana still leads the 118 game series 72-39-5 all-time lead in the Brawl of the Wild series. While the Griz hold a comfortable series lead, the overall tally between the two is much closer in the decades since joining the Big Sky Conference, with UM leading 30-24 since 1963.
Key Player: QB Troy Andersen has also started games at running back and linebacker in his 21 games at MSU. He rushes for an average of 109.2 yards a game and throws for just 74.9 yards per contest. But he is 30-for-50 in the last three games, throwing 261 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in that stretch. For MSU to win in Missoula, a balanced offensive attack will be a must in this game.
Fantasy Bonus Baby: RB Isaiah Ifanse has been a strong runner and give Andersen a break in the offense and has rushed for 780 yards this season so far. He has scored six times on the ground and has added another touchdown through the air. Look for Ifanse to have some good numbers in this game.
Montana Grizzlies (6-4, 4-3 Big Sky)
Montana lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2002-03 in Bozeman last season when the Cats ran out to a 14-3 lead in the second quarter thanks to touchdowns from Troy Andersen and Nick LaSane, before finishing the half with a 21-13 lead.
The 23-31 loss put an end to UM’s 7-4 season which saw the Griz go four-deep on the quarterback depth chart, keeping them out of the playoffs for a second-straight season.
After sputtering along in three-straight losses, Montana’s offense found warp speed in its two road wins over Southern Utah and Idaho, putting together 1,050 yards of total offense and 14 touchdowns on the board in eight quarters of football.
Key Player: WR/KR Jerry Louie-McGee inched up the all-time pass reception yards list with a modest 15-yards at Idaho, passing Jabin Sambrano to slot in at No. 23 with 1793 career yards. Look for him to have a big game in this one in both the kick returning area.
Fantasy Bonus Baby: WR Samuel Akemcontinued his impressive scoring streak at Idaho last week, hauling in a pair of touchdowns for the fourth-straight game and the fifth time this year to put his season total at 12. The sophomore standout set a new career-high against the Vandals, hitting 130 yards to go along with his pair of scores, bolstered by a pair of 40+ yard receptions. His 72 points off touchdowns this year makes him the fourth-leading scorer (by TD) in the Big Sky, and the ninth-leading overall scorer.
Fearless Prediction: With Weber State, Eastern Washington, and UC Davis nearly all locks, the playoff committee will look hard at the winner of this game as a possible fourth team from the Big Sky Conference. It is hard for me to see a Montana Grizzly team losing three years in a row. Look for the Griz to take this one and keep its playoff hopes alive. Montana 37 Montana State 31
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football is the Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
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