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Published on November 3rd, 2017 | by Bear Tycoon

What needs to happen for the Griz and Cats to make the playoffs?

The only things you need to know this week: The Griz looked awful last week and need to win out to make the playoffs, the Cats looked good last week and need to win out to make the playoffs, and in the only news that matter MONTANA HERO BROCK OSWEILER IS THE NEW BRONCOS STARTER.

Lots more below on the Cats/Griz playoff chances and their upcoming games against Kennesaw State (not a Division II school) and undefeated Northern Arizona.

Episode 10 of the Montana Mint Sports podcast is out.  Listen to it here or on most major podcast apps.

This Week’s Predictions

Montana State vs. Kennesaw State
The line from Vegas: Cats -7.5 simulated score:
Montana State 26
Kennesaw State 12

Montana at Weber State
The line from Vegas: Griz +3.5 simulated score:
Montana 31
Northern Arizona 38

Playoffs? Montana (3-2 in conference) and Montana State (4-2) are both sniffing the playoffs, but are currently on the outside looking in.  What would it take for these two teams to make it to the dance?  Let’s look at the past couple seasons.

The Big Sky sent four teams to the playoffs last year, and three teams in 2015.  Each of these teams was ranked in the Top 25 and all but one team had a record of 6-2 or better. Therefore, to make the playoffs, our teams would need to finish in the top 25 nationally, in the top 4 in the Big Sky, and with a record of 6-2 in conference.

There are currently four teams ahead of both the Cats and Griz: NAU (5-0), Eastern Washington (4-1), Weber State (4-1), and Southern Utah (4-1).  Barring something crazy, the Montana schools will need to win out in order to get into the playoffs.  That could make Cat/Griz pretty, pretty, pretty, interesting in a few weeks.

Games with playoff implications. Weber State @ EWU | North Dakota @ Southern Utah

Kennesaw State Comes to Bozeman (by Hot Take Nate. You’re probably asking yourself where the hell Kennesaw State is and why, in the middle of conference season, they are coming to Bozeman to play the Bobcats. If I wouldn’t have read (friend of Mint Sports) Greg Rachac’s article I would have been wondering the same thing.

So all of a sudden, Montana State is paying another FCS school $200,000 to come to Bozeman. We’ve all seen this happen where an upper tier school pays a lower tier FCS or DII school to come play at their place for an easy win and some experience. The thing is Kennesaw State is ranked #25 in the country and brings a 7-1 record to Bobcat Stadium on Saturday. To go along with that ranking and record the They are the #1 rushing offense in the FCS tallying 329 yards per game. Am I scared? Not really.

Usually it doesn’t take a 7-1 team until week 10 to get into the Top 25 polls, especially when they have the best running game in the FCS, right? Usually, yes but check out who they have played this season:

  • Loss – Samford (5-3) – 111th ranked rush defense in FCS (out of 123 teams)
  • Win – Tennessee Tech (1-7) – 100th ranked rush defense in FCS
  • Win – Alabama State (2-5) – 89th ranked rush defense in FCS
  • Win – North Greenville (4-4) – 120th ranked rush defense in FCS
  • Win – Texas Southern (0-7) – 93rd ranked rush defense in FCS
  • Win – Liberty (4-4) – Not ranked in FCS as they are transitioning to FBS
  • Win – Presbyterian (3-5) – 118th ranked rush defense in FCS
  • Win – Gardner Webb (1-7) – 63rd ranked rush defense in FCS

Kennesaw State has defeated exactly zero teams with a winning record. Their wins have come against opponents with a combined win/loss record of 15-39 and 6 of their 8 opponents are ranked in the bottom 28 percent of the FCS in rushing defense. They haven’t come close to playing a team like Montana State. It’s not just me and my rankings that suggest this as Jeff Sagarin and his Sagarin Rankings have Kennesaw State playing the 24th easiest schedule so far in all of NCAA (FBS and FCS) football. Just to put that in perspective, the Bobcats have played the 113th easiest schedule out of 254 teams.

Look, for a team that has only been around since 2015, a 7-1 record and top rushing attack is very impressive. The Cats are ranked 52nd in rush defense in the FCS and Kennesaw State will get some yards but it won’t be enough. The trip from the East Coast to snowy Bozeman to play, by far, their toughest opponent of the season will show that they aren’t yet ready to tangle with a top tier conference, even if they are playing a 4-4 Montana State team.

The Owls.  Kennesaw State’s mascot is the Owl.  And it’s not just any owl, but a sassy owl in a sassy outfit.

Owls are cooler than the Mint Sports team realized.  Did you know that owls are carnivorous and are considered to be the most efficient night hunters on the planet? Or did you owls don’t chew their prey?  Instead, they eat them whole and then puke up the bones in a pellet.  Bear Tycoon predicts these Owls will swallow the Bobcats whole on Saturday, stealing a win on the road and ending the Bobcats playoff dreams.

A bit over the top.  MSU Defensive Coordinator Ty Gregorak compared the Kennesaw State triple option to the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.  Z-Train wrote a short poem to set the mood: theirs not to reason why, their’s but to do, and die, Into the valley of death rode the mighty cats.

NAU QB.  Some potential bad news for Griz fans.  The University of Montana is currently the last ranked pass defense in the Big Sky and will be facing off against arguably the best quarterback in the conference.  Case Cookus has been dominating all year for the NAU Lumberjacks, leading them to an undefeated record in conference and has him ranking in the top 20 nationally in completions per game, passing yards, passing yards per game, total offense, passing touchdowns, and points per game.  At least the Griz aren’t playing without their top defensive back.  Oh, wait…

MSU Billings Basketball.  In one of our favorite stories of the year, the MSUB  basketball team signed Elijah Salley to their roster, a six-year old kid currently undergoing treatment for cancer.  Check out the full story here.

Big Sky Power Rankings. Our boy Brad Reed from eGriz puts together a nice weekly Power Rankings.  As you can see below, the Griz have a lot to play for this week against NAU.
1. Southern Utah
2. Eastern Washington
3. Weber State
4. Northern Arizona
5. Montana
6. Montana State
7. UC-Davis
8. Sacramento State
9. Idaho State
10. Northern Colorado
11. North Dakota
12. Portland State
13. Cal Poly

Podcast! We made it to 10 episodes!  We get into it with First 10 (1:54-22:51), Hot/Not (23:00-31:00).  We dissect last week’s games (32:20-42:51), and then look forward to UM vs. NAU (46:45-50:50) and MSU vs. Kennesaw State (50:51-55:25).  Montana Parlay gives us his picks for the week – he’s 10-7 on the year (55:27-57:42).  We then end with a quick look around the Big Sky plus a MAJOR BROCK OSWEILER UPDATE.  The Montana Mint Sports Podcast can be found on Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play.

The Montana Mint Sports Podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Play

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Bear Tycoon

The Richest Bear in the Woods.

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