In the 119th meeting between two of the oldest rivals in college football, the University of Montana Grizzlies will travel to Montana State University Nov. 23 and attempt to win the game for the first time in three years.
“It is a huge rivalry,” said redshirt senior linebacker Dante Olson. “There is so much emotion, and it is hard to describe to someone who isn’t in the game.”
This year, Olson and the Griz football team are not just playing the game for the “Great Divide Trophy” or a nice victory against the Bobcats, but are instead competing for a share in the Big Sky Conference championship and a first-round bye in the FCS-Division I playoffs.
The Griz come into the Brawl of the Wild at 9-3, their best record since 2015, when Montana went 8-5 and made it to the second round of the playoffs. In their last game, Montana dominated the No. 3 ranked Weber State 35-16, which is likely to guarantee them a ticket in the playoffs.
“This is what we wanted to do since day one,” said third-year head coach Bobby Hauck. “Being where we are competition-wise is as planned.”
In his second stint at the University of Montana, Hauck has transitioned the team from being unranked at the end of 2018 to being a Top-5 ranked contender in the FCS.
For the Montana offense, redshirt-senior quarterback Dalton Sneed, combined with running back sophomore Marcus Knight and a group of talented receivers, have led the Griz starting offense to average almost 38 points a game. The team is ranked second in the Big Sky Conference.
Defensively, the Griz are led by Olson and an experienced secondary who have held opposing teams to less than 24 points a game, on average. The Montana rush defense is second in the Conference, only allowing 117 yards on average.
On the opposing side, the Montana State Bobcats enter the rivalry game with a 8-3 start to the season. The Bobcats last played UC Davis on the road and defeated the Aggies 27-17.
The Bobcats, led by senior Logan Jones, who averages 70 yards on his own, have the best run game in the Big Sky Conference, averaging 250 yards per game. The run game is combined with quarterback Tucker Rovig, who was named the starter in September.
Montana State’s defense ranks second in the Big Sky Conference for overall yards, only allowing 360 per game.
The Griz and the Cats have only played two similar opponents. Both teams lost to Sacramento State in October. Then both teams won against California opponent UC Davis.
The Griz have not won the Brawl of the Wild since the 2015 season.
“The three that I played in are three losses, that is what I remember from them,” said Olson. “We will do whatever we can to change that this year.”
The Brawl of the Wild kicks off at noon from Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman. It will also be televised on the Root Sports Network.