BOZEMAN — Coming off their trip to the national championship, there was a lot of noise surrounding this year’s Bobcat football team wondering if the loss of several stars would impact their success going forward.
That obviously has not been the case this fall as Montana State remains just one win away from a Big Sky regular season championship in a regular season that’s culminating with the 121st edition of the Brawl of the Wild.
Season in review
Starting off with Gold Rush, the Bobcats came into the season ranked No. 4 in the FCS as they opened 2022 action against McNeese State, 40-17. Montana State got off on the right in front of a sold-out crowd that was led on the ground by Lane Sumner’s 176-yard rushing performance.
The Bobcats followed with another convincing win at home against Morehead State, but their real test came in Week 3 when they hit the road to Oregon State. The play of the game came on a 98-yard kickoff return by Marqui Johnson, but the Pac-12 foe was a red zone monster rolling past the Bobcats to win by 40.
The following week Montana State looked to bounce back on the Red Inferno at Eastern Washington to open up Big Sky play, but little did they know they would be without their starting quarterback Tommy Mellott after a scary hit in the first quarter. However, an offensive shootout capped off by a 13-yard Sean Chambers touchdown took down the 15th-ranked Eagles, 38-35.
Week 5 featured a Big Sky After Dark matchup on primetime television as the Bobcats hosted UC Davis, and with Mellott out it was Chambers who answered the call on his first start. The Wyoming transfer set a new program record, accounting for more than 200 yards on both the ground and through the air in their 41-24 win.
Montana State's defense was the winner against Idaho State notching six takeaways to tie a program record, while in Greely, Colorado, it was Willie Patterson who put on the show against the Golden Bears.
Week 8 saw movement in the polls thanks to a North Dakota State loss, setting up what was a marquee Top-5 matchup against Weber State, which was a game riddled with rain. That may have contributed to the Wildcats' four safeties, but along with a 273-yard rushing performance by Touchdown Tommy, the Bobcats remained undefeated in the Big Sky, taking down the Wildcats by five.
Following a much-needed bye, the Bobcats headed down south to Flagstaff, Arizona, to a venue that’s known to give them some problems – and it did. Northern Arizona took Montana State all the way down to the wire with just over a minute remaining, but an unscripted 64-yard pass from Mellott to Taco Dowler set up a 24-yard game-winner by Blake Glessner, 41-38.
Then of course this past weekend the team traded in frigid temps for sunny skies, and it was Marqui Johnson who shined helping the Bobcats set a new single-game rushing record with 554 yards for both the program and the Big Sky.
Now Montana State faces the granddaddy of them all as they prepare for their neighbors over the divide, but a win in the 121st Brawl of the Wild also secures them their first Big Sky championship since 2012.
Kick-off for "Brawl of the Wild" is at noon on Saturday, November 19, and it will be broadcast on MTN. And before the game, watch our special Big Sky Showdown on Friday, November 18, at 6pm, or on Saturday morning at 11am right before the game.