MISSOULA – More than bragging rights are at stake Saturday when the Montana State Bobcats face the No. 5 Montana Grizzlies in the 108th Cat-Griz football game — dubbed the “Brawl of the Wild” — at UM’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The storied game also has playoff implications for both teams.
The Grizzlies are all but guaranteed a place in the 16-team Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, which would be their 16th straight appearance.
Montana is 10-1 with its one loss at No. 8 Weber State, which has won at least a share of the Big Sky Conference title and an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. A Montana win could work in the Grizzlies’ favor for a higher playoff seeding, but coach Bobby Hauck said his players haven’t been looking beyond Saturday.
“We always play with a sense of urgency regardless of who we’re playing,” Hauck said.
The Montana State Bobcats enter the game at 7-4 and have been trying to keep their playoff hopes alive since starting the Big Sky at 1-2. They’ve won four straight and need a win Saturday just to have any hope of reaching the playoffs.
“It’s been in the back of everyone’s mind,” MSU coach Rob Ash said. “You don’t know about the selection process, but the guys know if you lose three (Big Sky) games you have no shot. We have to win to keep the dream alive.”
Montana leads the overall series 67-35-5, and has won 19 of the last 22 meetings in one of the oldest college football rivalries west of the Mississippi.
Weber State can clinch the outright Big Sky championship by beating Eastern Washington on Saturday, which would likely enhance the Wildcats’ shot at a top-four seed in the playoffs.
Weber coach Ron McBride said he’ll worry about that after Saturday’s game. He just wants to get to 8-0 in the league first.
“We don’t want to tie with anybody,” McBride said. “We’ve come this far. We want to go one more step.”
Sacramento State looks for its seventh win, the program’s most since the 2000 season, when it takes on winless Idaho State on Saturday.
And Portland State closes out its season at home against Northern Colorado.
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