[Vandal] Montana State Plays Old-School Football

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Sat Nov 13 08:42:37 PST 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSaturday, November 13, 2021
Montana State Plays Old-School Football
Idaho off to Bozeman for latest game against ranked Big Sky foe
By Stephan Wiebe 
MOSCOW — There’s nothing flashy about these third-ranked Montana State Bobcats — this team does things the old-fashioned way.No gimmicky plays, no gaudy passing numbers, no tricky defensive formations. MSU plays a brand of football built on running the ball and battering down opposing offenses in the trenches, and it does both better than most in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The Vandals (3-6, 2-4 Big Sky) will have their hands full when they kick off against MSU (8-1, 6-0) at noon today (SWX/ESPN+) at Bobcat Stadium.
“You get to play a No. 3 team in the country in a great atmosphere, it’ll be a packed house, the fans will be loud,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “That’s why you play college football. You can’t really ask for much more than that.”
The last time the Vandals trekked to Bozeman in 2018, a crew had to shovel the snow-blanketed field before kickoff. What ensued was a frozen brawl that came down to a missed extra point in the Bobcats’ 24-23 victory.
There’s no snow in the forecast this time, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be any easier for the Vandals. MSU announced this week that it sold out its sixth consecutive home game this season, meaning a raucous 17,777 fans are expected to be in attendance for the team’s senior day.
“They will have a big home field crowd, so that’s always something you gotta make sure you’re preparing for, for ­communication and snap count and everything that you do,” Petrino said. “... It’ll be exciting for our guys to play in it.”
Style-wise, the two teams are similar. Both teams like to lean on the ground game and feature a tough front seven on defense. The difference is in how successful each has been at turning their strengths into victories.
MSU hasn’t lost a game since narrowly falling to Wyoming of the Football Bowl Subdivision in its season opener.
The Bobcats’ offense is paced by running back Isaiah Ifanse, whose 1,1124 yards rank No. 2 in all of the FCS. He averages 124.9 yards per game with a 6.2-yard average and eight touchdowns.
But MSU’s biggest strength lies in a defense that allows just 11.4 points per game — also second-best in the FCS.
The team’s defensive leader is senior linebacker Troy Anderson, a 245-pounder from Dillon, Mont., who plays sideline-to-sideline and leads the team with 86 tackles.
Then there’s speedy edge rusher Daniel Hardy, who has racked up 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Add in a collection of talented defensive backs that have held teams to a league-low 161.8 passing yards per game and this group doesn’t show many weaknesses.The Bobcats aren’t a team that will take Idaho lightly, either.
“Idaho has not had maybe the season that they hoped for, but they’re a team that we feel like from a talent perspective and from the ability to come in here and really challenge us,” first-year MSU coach Brent Vigen said. “They have all the ingredients.”
One thing going for Idaho is it’s coming off its biggest win of the season after thumping Southern Utah 42-24 on Nov. 6 on senior day.The game featured a career day for running back Roshaun Johnson. The junior entered the game fourth on the team in rushing and left it with a school-record six touchdowns and 174 yards on the ground.
“I think anytime you play a game like that, you’re confident and it gets you excited to get onto the next game,” Petrino said. “He probably needed a day to freshen up a little bit — that’s a lot of carries — but I think he’s extremely excited for this week.”
If the Vandals are going to pull an upset, they’ll need to play clean football and stay on the field and ahead of the chains, Petrino said. But it’ll be a challenge to beat MSU at its own game.
The Bobcats are the least penalized team in the Big Sky and they don’t make many mistakes. They just beat teams down until they’re the last ones standing.
“They’re the No. 3 team in the country, so I think they’ll come out trying to impose their will on us and it will be a really physical game,” Petrino said. “I think it’ll come down to that.”
Around the Big Sky
As the regular season is nearing its end, Montana State has separated itself from the pack atop the conference.
No. 9 Montana at Northern Arizona
The matchup to watch here is NAU running back Kevin Daniels (105 yards per game) vs. a Grizzlies defense that allows teams only 75 yards rushing per game, the conference’s best.
Idaho at No. 3 Montana State
The Bobcats announced they sold out all six of their home games this season. The Vandals can expect 17,777 raucous fans to greet them at Bobcat Stadium.
Weber State at Southern Utah
The Wildcats lost their fifth game of the season and dropped from the rankings for the second time. Have they finally done enough for the voters to leave them outside the Top 25 for good?
No. 7 Eastern Washington at No. 6 UC Davis
Matchup of the week in the conference. The Eagles have lost two straight after soaring to the top of the league. Can the Aggies make it three straight?
Idaho State at Cal Poly
Battle of the Big Sky’s bottom shelf. One of these teams will end a lengthy losing streak and grab its second win of the season. Mustangs have lost eight straight and the Bengals are on a four-game skid.
Portland State at No. 12 Sacramento State
The Vikings are looking to play upset maker for the second straight week.
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