It doesn’t get any better than the annual rivalry game between Montana and Montana State. The 112th Brawl of the Wild kicks off Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Missoula.
The Grizzlies currently hold the Divide Trophy after beating MSU 36-10 last year in Bozeman. The Divide Trophy is presented to the captains of the winning team by Montana’s Governor after each game.
Over the last decade, Montana holds a 6-4 edge in the Brawl. The Griz won in 2004 after losing two straight to the Cats in 2002 and 2003. The Cats won again in 2005, before UM ripped off four straight in the series from 2006-2009. MSU won the last time the game was in Missoula, beating UM 21-16 in 2010.
Montana State currently lists 45 players from the Treasure state on its 2012 roster. The Grizzlies have 41 players from Montana on their roster.
A crowd of over 26,000 is expected to be on hand for Saturday’s Cat-Griz at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on ROOT Sports, which can be found locally on Optimum (23), DirecTV (687) and Dish (426).
The 10 Things You Must Know about the 212th Brawl of the Wild
Montana leads Montana State in the all-time series 70-36 with five ties between the two schools. The first game was played Nov. 25, 1897 in Bozeman. The Grizzlies won 18-6. Since the rivalry began, there have been 12 years in which the Griz and Cats did not meet. They didn’t play from 1905-1907 or in 1911. The game was again missed in 1915, 1918 and 1924, then put on hold during World War II from 1942-1945. The Grizzlies’ longest winning streak was 16 games, from 1986-2001. Twice, the Bobcats have won six in a row in the series.
Ranked and Un-Ranked
The Bobcats come to Missoula Saturday ranked No. 2 in the FCS. The Cats were ranked No. 1 when the in Bozeman during the 2011 Brawl. Saturday’s game will be the first time the Griz are un-ranked for a Cat-Griz matchup since 1990.
Saturday’s game may mark the last time a local product plays in a Cat-Griz game for some time. Havre’s Marc Mariani shined in four Cat-Griz appearances, while the Cats are now represented by Harlem’s Rick Haluszka, who is the Cats’ holder and a special team’s standout. Haluszka is playing in his final Cat-Griz game. Farther to the east, the Cats also have Hi-Line greats Kazz and Kruz Siewing.
MSU comes into Saturday’s game with the fourth-best run defense in all of FCS. The Cats are allowing just 88 rushing yards per game. Right behind them are the Griz, who are fifth in the FCS, allowing just 91 yards per on the ground. Conversely, UM is first in the Big Sky Conference in rushing, while the Cats are third.
The visiting team has won the last three Brawl’s. UM beat the Cats in Bozeman in 2009 and 2011, while MSU won in Missoula in 2010.
Record Number of Humans
The 2010 meeting between the Griz and Cats in Missoula was a then Washington-Grizzly Stadium record crowd of 26,019. At the time, it was the largest crowd to ever see a sporting event in Montana, which has happened every time UM and MSU has met in Missoula since 1996. The current Wash-Griz record is 26,066 set last September against Eastern Washington, but that number is likely to fall Saturday.
Saturday’s game is loaded with stars on both sides of the ball, but perhaps never has a Cat-Griz game featured so many great defensive players on one field. MSU’s Zach Minter and UM’s Jordan Tripp are both up for the Buck Buchanen Award, while MSU LB Jody Owens was a nominee and the Big Sky Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. UM defensive end Zach Wagenmann leads the Big Sky in sacks with 12, while MSU defensive end Caleb Schreibeis is also having a huge year.
The Bobcats haven’t won back-to-back games in Missoula since they beat the Griz in 1974 and 1976. The Griz have never lost two in a row to the Cats since Washington-Grizzly Stadium opened in 1986, but that could change with an MSU win Saturday. The Grizzlies are trying to keep a winning streak intact Saturday as well. Montana comes into the game with a 5-5 record and a win over the Cats would extend their remarkable run of winning seasons to 26 years. The Bobcats meanwhile, have run off six straight winning seasons, and will be in the FCS playoffs for the third straight year under head coach Rob Ash, who became the school’s all-time winningest coach last Saturday, The Cats are also vying for at least a share of the Big Sky title for the third straight season.
As a red-shirt freshman in 2010, MSU quarterback DeNarius McGhee led the Cats to an impressive 21-16 win in Missoula. The performance harkened back to when MSU freshman QB Travis Lulay led MSU to a 10-7 win in Missoula back in 2002, which snapped the Griz’ 16-year winning streak over the Cats. However, McGhee would like to do something Lulay didn’t, which is win again in Missoula as a junior.
Each team has two wins in what are considered the four greatest games in the rivalry. MSU’s comeback win in 1968, and the Cats’ streak-ending win in Missoula in 2002 top the list for the MSU. Montana’s win in Bozeman in 1997 tops the list for the Griz as Kris Heppner kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired, while the next year, the Griz scored a game-winning TD with under five minutes to go after the Cats had led the whole way in Missoula.