The weekly 'Pig Skin Pick 'Ems' series concludes this week with the biggest game of the year. ESPN’s College GameDay may not be in attendance to offer analysis for the Brawl of the Wild but fear not, the Exponent ‘experts’ are offering our picks. Tune in for Cat-Griz football on Saturday, Nov. 20, at noon on Root Sports or ESPN+ if you are outside the Root Sports footprint. The Cats will look to make it five straight victories over that football team west of the Continental Divide. Check out the Dec. 2 edition of the Exponent, where we will crown the Pig Skin Pick ’Ems king or queen of 2021.
Thomas: 20-10 (2-1)
Meredith: 22-8 (2-1)
Jaxson: 22-8 (3-0)
Liam: 11-3 (3-0)
# 3 Montana State (9-1) @ #7 Montana (8-2)
Saturday, Nov. 20 @ Noon on Root Sports, ESPN+ and the Bobcat Radio Network
The Cats head into the Brawl of the Wild with a 9 game winning streak and an aura of invincibility. That loss to Wyoming was so long ago that it may as well have been a preseason game. MSU has stomped on weak opponents and suffocated strong ones with a defense allowing only 11.6 points per game on average. This is certainly the best football team that the Bobcats have fielded since I’ve been on campus. Going up against the Griz, none of that matters. Montana beat a Power 5 school in week 1 and has only 2 losses so far this season. A win on Saturday puts them in a phenomenal spot to make the FCS playoffs. On top of all of that, the Griz have lost to the Cats in all of their last 4 meetings. The Grizzlies aren’t hungry this year, they’re starving. Expect this to come down to the wire. Expect big hits, trick plays, and flaring tempers. Either of these teams may be a national champion at the end of this season, but this is the game that matters. The Cats’ defense will win them this game, and the offense will do just enough. Final score: Cats 13 - Griz 10.
My first ever Cat-Griz football game is here, and I couldn’t be more excited. All my Griz fan friends know that we’re not friends during the game, and they are prepared for mountains of trash talk to be thrown upon them. No regrets. The Cats’ defense has remained a top-notch threat and with the relatively consistent stride of the Bobcat offense, the Griz should go down this weekend. I missed out on the chance to crush the Griz my freshman year, and I don’t foresee losing to the Griz this weekend. It could be close, it should be intense, and it will be an amazing experience. Cats will win this weekend, 35 - 14.
It’s the week we’ve all been waiting for: the Cat-Griz showdown. Both teams find themselves in the top ten and ready to brawl to top off the regular season. The Cats have proven themselves one of the best teams in the FCS, downing all Big Sky opponents. Montana has had some success this season, defeating Washington in Seattle. With a rivalry, anything can happen, but one thing is certain and in my eyes, the Cats will leave Missoula claiming the Great Divide Trophy for yet another year. The Cats’ defense has been impressive, the Griz offense has been inconsistent. The Cats defense has gone toe-to-toe with the best defense in the Big Sky and found success. So, I’d rather be Brent than Bobby because I see the Cats beating the Griz in Missoula for the third straight time. Cats win the state and claim bragging rights for another year, Cats 31 - the other guys 17.
I doubt there is a single Griz fan that will be betting on this Brawl of the Wild. At least, no smart fans will be. The Cats have exceeded our high expectations so far this season, especially on the defensive side of the game. After beating Eastern Washington, MSU shows no signs of slowing down now. I predict this to be a rough, physical game no matter how the score turns out. Montana will come into this game not only desperate to beat us, but they will be looking to prove themselves in the Big Sky Conference and potentially grasp third place.
However, the Cats won’t let this happen, and the Great Divide Trophy will remain home. Cats beat the Griz 24-7.
When it comes to nitty-gritty football stats and rankings, I’m about as bewildered as the Griz probably were when the Bobcats powered through a 29-point comeback in the 2018 Brawl of the Wild (see Gus Yeager’s article in the Exponent’s Brawl of the Wild special edition for those deets). One thing my sports-disoriented brain does understand, however, is that MSU Football powered through an undefeated season complete with remarkable moments of offensive and defensive might. How about that Sept. 18 game against San Diego, when the Bobcat defense converted two interceptions for touchdowns and partnered with the offense to throw 52 points on the scoreboard? Or when the Cats smoked Drake and Cal Poly 45-7? Whatever the Grizzlies have up their sleeves, I’m confident it will be no match for the energy MSU football brings to the Brawl of the Wild. The Cats will stomp their rivals, a lot to a little.
I’ve been here before, and I’m going to reinforce the point that I know the bare minimum about football. But what can you expect to say in this case is I’m not a traitor. The Cats (barring the last game against Idaho which was a little rocky) have looked the strongest they have in a long time. Undefeated in conference play with the Great Divide Trophy already in their possession from 2019, I’m confident we’ll be driving the trophy right back to MSU again this Saturday. Cats pull off another monumental win, 48-7.