This week signals the arrival of the preeminent sporting event in the state every year.
The 112th Brawl of the Wild between the Montana and Montana State football teams is Saturday, Nov. 17, in Missoula. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on Root Sports.
This year’s showdown between the two rivals has extra implications. The second-ranked Bobcats (9-1 overall, 6-1 in conference) are tied atop the Big Sky Conference standings with Cal Poly, Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona. Cal Poly and Northern Arizona play in Flagstaff on Saturday and Eastern Washington travels to Portland State (3-7, 2-5).
Montana State has shared the conference title the past two seasons, with EWU in 2010 and Montana in 2011. Last year the Grizzlies spoiled the Bobcats’ chances of winning the Big Sky outright by winning the Brawl of the Wild in Bozeman, 36-10. Montana has won five of the past six rivalry games and leads the all-time series 70-36-5.
Since Kalispell quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann took over as starter the Grizzlies (5-5, 3-4) have won two games in a row for the first time all season. Smithwick-Hann has completed 63.5 percent of his passes and has thrown eight touchdowns and only three interceptions. Senior defensive end Josh Harris, also from Kalispell, has also shined. He is currently the Grizzlies’ ninth leading tackler with 28. He was named to the College Sports Information Director Association’s Capital One Division 1 Academic All-District 7 football team.
Montana State has won three straight, including a historic victory last weekend. The Bobcats routed Portland State 65-30 at home, giving sixth-year head coach Rob Ash his 48th career victory at MSU, a school record. Sonny Holland held the old mark. Since Ash took over as head coach, the Bobcats have tallied three consecutive nine-win seasons for the first time ever.
This season the Bobcats lead the Big Sky in rushing defense (88.8 average yards per game) and total defense (305.2). The offense leads in scoring (38.7 average points per game) and is ranked eighth in the country.
RELATED: Kalispell’s Shay Smithwick-Hann is helping Montana move past tumultuous offseason
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.