Bobcats run their way into FCS Playoffs
by Danny Waldo
Regular season play in the Big Sky Conference has come to an end, and post-season play is set to begin on November 30, and no team is hotter entering the 2019 FCS playoffs than the Montana State Bobcats.
Once again, the Bobcats entered the month of November with their backs against the wall following head-scratching defeats to North Dakota and Sacramento State, and once again, they delivered with the season on the line. MSU went 4-0 in the final month of the regular season, delivering blow out victories over Southern Utah and Northern Colorado before earning a hard-fought road victory over defending league champion UC Davis, and culminating league play with a dominating 48-14 victory of the rival Montana Grizzlies.
Montana and Montana State entered the 119th edition of the Brawl of the Wild both ranked in the Top 10 and more than likely having earned a post-season at-large berth. But there was still more on the line than just bragging rights, as the winner was most assuredly guaranteed a Top 8 seed in playoffs and First Round bye.
That was more motivation than MSU would need as they forced a turnover on UM’s first offensive play, scoring shortly thereafter, and the rout was on. Symbolically enough, senior Derek Marks recovered the Grizzlies opening fumble, a year after securing a game-clinching fumble in Missoula.
MSU bruised and battered the Grizzlies all afternoon with a punishing rushing attack and a relentless pass rush on defense. The Bobcats hammered the Griz to the tune of 382 yards and six rushing touchdowns, while shutting out Montana over the final two quarters, collecting an interception and stopping Griz quarterback Dalton Sneed six times behind the line of scrimmage.
MSU’s reward for winning their fourth straight Brawl of the Wild is a No. 5 seed in the FCS playoffs and a First Round bye. The Bobcats will host a Second Round matchup in Bobcat Stadium on December 7, taking on the winner of Central Connecticut State and Albany.
For a look at the complete FCS bracket, log on to the NCAA website at ncaa.com. •