Brawl of the Wild

The 119th meeting between the Bobcats and Grizzlies is as high-stakes as any in recent history and filled with Northwest Montana connections

By Beacon Staff
Photo illustration by Dwayne Harris | Flathead Beacon.

It’s rarely tough to get Montanans fired up for the annual intra-state football showdown between the University of Montana and Montana State University, a game that divides the state, its cities and even some dining room tables into Griz or Cats country.

But this year’s 119th edition, which kicks off at noon on Nov. 23 in Bozeman, packs a little extra punch anyway, with the Grizzlies (No. 3) and Bobcats (No. 8) both ranked in the top eight in the country for the first time since 2011.

To get ready for Saturday, we took a look at the local players suiting up for this year’s matchup, at a Bobcats senior who’s never lost one of these games, and at the rivalry’s modest 19th-century beginnings. Consider it a little appetizer to enjoy ahead of Saturday’s main course, which will be televised across the state on Root Sports.


The first University of Montana football team in 1897. Courtesy of University of Montana Athletics

The Humble Beginnings of a Storied Rivalry

Looking back at the inaugural Cat-Griz football game in 1897


On Thanksgiving Day in 1897, the University of Montana hosted the Agricultural College of the State of Montana in the first game of what would become a storied cross-state football rivalry.



Josh Sandry points at a teammate during the University of Montana intra-squad spring game at Legends Stadium on April 13, 2019. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Local Showcase

A breakdown of the 17 players from Northwest Montana who are on the MSU and UM rosters


This year’s Cat-Griz game will have a decidedly Northwest Montana feel, with 17 players on the two teams’ rosters who hail from this part of the state.



Josh Hill of the Montana State University Bobcats competes in a game against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in Bobcat Stadium on Nov. 2, 2019. Hill is a Glacier High School graduate. Photo by Dean Hendrickson

Q&A with Josh Hill

The MSU linebacker and Glacier High School alum talks about preparing for ‘Montana’s Super Bowl’


Step back from the fervor of rivalry week and one might be surprised to realize that the 119th edition of the Brawl of the Wild doesn’t really register to people in any of the country’s other 49 states.

That doesn’t mean the Cat-Griz showdown can’t acquire a few out-of-state converts.