A rumble shakes through the stands, voices echo as they scream as loud as possible and excitement fills the fans with an energy like no other. The Brawl of the Wild is only one week away, and this rivalry weekend will be one of a kind. The last matchup took place in 2019, when the Cats dominated the Griz, 48-14. On Saturday, Nov. 20, the two teams will meet on the turf once again. For four years in a row, Montana State has claimed its title as champion of the Brawl of the Wild and kept a tight grip on the Great Divide trophy. According to the historical marker database, the trophy is set to resemble Bear Mountain, which is set right on the Continental Divide.
Montana and MSU have competed to claim in-state bragging rights since the beginning of the rivalry in 1897. The trophy was introduced as the annual victory prize in 2001, and once the year 2100 comes around the team with the most wins for the century will keep the trophy permanently to memorialize their domination. Montana leads the series 9-10 since 2000 and leads the rivalry overall, 72-41-5. The Cats’ have owned the state for the past four football seasons, and certainly this season proves MSU is playing at a level matching and potentially surpassing their counterparts west of the Continental Divide.
This season the Cats are in first place in the Big Sky Conference, with a 6-0 conference record and an 8-1 overall record, only losing their first game to Wyoming. The Griz are currently in fifth place, with a 4-2 conference record and a 7-2 overall record, and are tied with Eastern Washington, a team the Griz lost to back in October. The Bobcats beat the Eagles 23-20 on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Every year the annual Cat-Griz showdown divides the state in two. Families throughout the Treasure State make their preferences clear as they dress in Blue and Gold or silver and maroon. Freshman Rylee Dennis grew up in a Bobcat household and knows the importance of winning Cat-Griz for each faithful fanbase. This year she will be a part of the MSU student community as the team takes on the Griz for the first time since she started her college career. “It’s chaos, my dad is always yelling at the refs and if the game is not on at our house, my dad and my brother will go find the game,” Dennis said. The Cat-Griz rivalry is so important in her household that it was a cause for celebration that her brother, a sophomore in high school, was born on the same day as the rivalry game in 2005. The Cats won 16-6 that day.
“I think we are going to win this year, my dad would say we are going to win, we will not lose,” Dennis commented. “I feel great about our team this year, and if my dad sees one Griz fan after we win he will rub it in their faces.”
This top-10 showdown will take place in Missoula pitting two of the most storied FCS schools against one another. With major playoff implications, the Cats will look to leave Missoula with the Great Divide Trophy and earn a top seed in the FCS playoffs. The Griz have been inconsistent this year on offense, but with starting quarterback Cam Humphrey back from injury, this year’s Brawl will surely be a battle in the trenches.
The Cats have some offensive might of their own. As of press time, the Cats have recorded a whopping 291 points and only allowed 103 points against. This MSU team is well-rounded, featuring impressive performances on all sides of the ball. With one of the best defenses in the FCS, the Cats will look to dominate the line of scrimmage and hold Humphrey and company to a minimum of offensive output.
The game this year takes place on Saturday, Nov. 20, in Missoula at Washington Grizzly Stadium. To all the Bobcat fans heading to the game make sure to be loud and be proud as our Cats take the field. The Cats’ longest win streak was six years, and when the Cats win this year this will be the fifth straight win. The Cats have had the trophy for five years now, as both football programs opted out of the spring football season in 2021 due to COVID-19 and weather concerns. For those who are unable to attend the game, you can watch the game on Root Sports, ESPN+ (outside of the ROOT Sports footprint) or listen to it on the Bobcat Radio Network. For a downtown, fun football environment, choose a high energy sports bar in town, recommended by our culture writer, Angela Cateora, on page 14, to cheer alongside your fellow Bobcat faithful.