North Dakota State must do something on Saturday they haven't done in 13 years, win a road playoff game. Ironically, the last time NDSU won a road playoff game it was against Montana State.
Back in 2010, NDSU was in its maiden voyage in the FCS playoffs and they were facing a heavily favored Bobcat team that was seeded 4th. NDSU was behind in the 4th quarter 17-14, The Bison proceeded to score 28 unanswered points to win 42-17. That game would produce sustained agony for Bobcat fans as in the next three playoff matchups against the Bison they would lose by an average of 37.2 points a game. During that three-game stretch of dominance NDSU would beat Montana State in the 2nd round, semi-finals, and national championship game.
The Bobcats hope that this is the time they defeat their green and yellow nemesis. Montana State and NDSU seem to be going in different directions as of late as the Bison have looked like themselves the last three weeks by beating Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa, and handling their first playoff opponent in Drake. Montana State has been trending downward by getting smashed in their annual meeting with Montana by the score of 37-7. The Bobcats are built very similarly to NDSU, they have two dynamic quarterbacks in Tommy Mellott and Sean Chambers and a really good running game with Wisconsin transfer Julius Davis.
Montana State is #1 in the FCS in scoring offense with over 40 points a game and they rush the ball for over 300 yards per game. They don't throw the ball particularly well but they run it so well they don't have to throw it. On defense, they are on the same level as the Bison, good not great. They give up 21 points a game which is 23rd in the FCS. The Bison will have a challenge upfront because they have a good defensive front led by Brody Grebe, he leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss. In the secondary, they are led by Rylan Ortt, who leads the team in interceptions, he also has two sacks on the season.
This game will be the best of the 2nd round as it is two blueblood FCS powerhouses going at it for the right to play the winner of Sacramento State and #3 South Dakota.
Kickoff between the Bison and Bobcats from Bozeman, Montana will be at 2 PM and the game can be seen exclusively on ESPN+.