No backing down: Bobcats take on No. 1 NDSU Saturday

Print Article

BOZEMAN ­— Montana State football coach Jeff Choate knows the challenge that awaits when his Bobcats tangle with the nation’s top-ranked North Dakota State Bison on Saturday in Fargo. But, as he’s said many times with a smile since taking over the Bobcat program almost three years ago, “I never back down from a fight.”

After the team’s first FCS Playoff win since 2014 on Saturday, a 25-14 victory over 24th-ranked Incarnate Word, the Bobcats draw North Dakota State.

Choate calls the Bison “arguably the standard bearer for all of college football, not just the FCS, when you look at the success that they’ve had. Nobody can really match what they’ve done over the past decade, and you can include Alabama in that. Coach (Chris) Klieman is the perfect guy for that job.”

NDSU owns six of the last seven FCS titles, and the program’s run of Division I dominance took root in Bobcat Stadium eight years ago. In NDSU’s first post-season appearance as an FCS program the Bison beat Robert Morris 43-17, then came to Bozeman and beat the Bobcats 42-17.

Eastern Washington ended the team’s season a week later, but 12 months down the road the Bison celebrated the first of their Division I championships. Since the week before that snowy, freezing day in Bozeman in 2010, NDSU is 28-2 in the post-season.

Quarterback Easton Stick, who Choate calls “just a winner,” triggers NDSU’s relentless offense.

While the Bison tend to stampede opponents on the ground, rushing for 265.4 yards a game, Stick is one of the nation’s most efficient quarterbacks. He throws for 190.4 yards a game and completes 60 percent of his passes.

Lance Dunn (67.9 yards a game) and Bruce Anderson (67.0) spearhead a multi-faceted ground game.

Jabril Cox leads a suffocating North Dakota State defense.

A Sam linebacker that Choate says “is good enough to play in any conference in college football,” has eight tackles-for-loss and four sacks.

He is the team co-leader with 68 tackles, sharing that honor with safety Robbie Grimsley.

In their careers, Cox and Grimsley have combined for 432 tackles, 32.5 behind the line of scrimmage.

The Bobcats counter with a team that has improved throughout the season.

Sophomore quarterback Troy Andersen leads an efficient offense that runs on just short of two-thirds of its scrimmage plays.

Still, Andersen has completed 60 percent of his passes in the five games without an interception. Andersen has rushed for 20 touchdowns this year, which ties a Bobcat record, and averages over 100 yards on the ground a game.

The team’s trick to success in recent weeks has been a turnover turnaround. MSU is plus-12 in turnovers in the last seven games after starting the season minus-2 in the first five.

The Bobcats have been particularly adept at taking fumbles away from the opponent.

After not recovering an opponent fumble in the first seven games, MSU has pounced on 11 in the last five games.

After losing mid-season games at Weber State and Idaho State in consecutive weeks, the Bobcats have ripped off four straight wins.

It is MSU’s longest win streak since 2014, the last campaign that culminated in a playoff appearance. While the task of facing North Dakota State is daunting, it’s not unusual for this Bobcat team. MSU has faced the tournament entries seeded second, third and fifth. Just 13 months ago, the Bobcats also faced this year’s fourth-seeded team, as well.

Kickoff Saturday is at 1 p.m. The game is televised on ESPN3 over the internet.

Print Article

Read More Local Sports

PHOTOS: Flathead vs. Columbia Falls basketball

December 15, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Flathead and Columbia Falls squared off in boys’ and girls’ high school basketball action at Flathead High School in Kalispell on Saturday. Flathead won the boys’ matchup, 57-43, while Columbia Fal...

Comments

Read More

FVHS beats Stillwater boys, SCS girls win 40-24

December 15, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Daily Inter Lake Spencer Burden had 27 points for Flathead Valley Home School as the Crusaders rolled over Stillwater Christian School 59-49 on Friday night at Stillwater. Bubba Loyda had 14 for FVHS and Jordan Wini...

Comments

Read More

Flathead grapplers fifth after first day of tourney

December 15, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Daily Inter Lake COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – Flathead is off to a strong start at the Tri-State Wrestling Tournament, sitting in fifth place after one day of action. The Braves have 87 points. Mead High School, Wa., le...

Comments

Read More

Glacier’s Marin and Ronan’s Mays set to meet in CMR Classic semis

December 15, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Daily Inter Lake GREAT FALLS – Glacier’s Colby Marin and Ronan’s Justin Mays will meet in today’s 205-pound semifinal at the C.M. Russell Holiday Wrestling Classic, Martin had three pins on Friday to earn his spot...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

News: (406) 837-5131
Advertising: 406-758-4410
Bigfork Eagle
c/o Daily Inter Lake
PO Box 7610
Kalispell, MT 59904

©2018 Bigfork Eagle Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X