Here are game-by-game predictions for MSU, who is No. 3 in HERO Sports’ FCS Preseason Top 25.
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vs Utah Tech
Montana State shouldn’t have a problem with Utah Tech, a team that finished 4-7 last year and lost to Sac State 56-33 and Weber State 44-14.
at No. 1 South Dakota State
After losing 38-10 vs. NDSU and being out-outrushed 378-156 in the national title game two seasons ago, and after losing 39-18 at SDSU and being out-rushed 281-52 in last year’s semifinals, MSU needs to show it can take another step forward in the trenches to truly contend for an FCS championship.
The Bobcats started more than 75% freshmen and sophomores on their fronts in 2022, so this is the year to take that next step. I doubt MSU gets blown out like it did last season, but SDSU is just on another level than the rest of the FCS this fall.
MSU will overmatch Stetson, an ideal matchup between games vs. ranked opponents.
at No. 11 Weber State
This is the third matchup between the two in less than a year. MSU beat Weber 43-38 last October in a wild game, then beat the Wildcats again during the second round in December, winning 33-25 in a game MSU led 33-10 in the fourth quarter.
Weber is a good defensive team and will be good on that side of the ball again this fall. But the Bobcats owned their defense last year after the 2021 rock fight that saw MSU win 13-7 in Ogden. MSU continues to find that offensive success to improve to 3-1 on the season.
vs Portland State
Portland State won’t be a team to overlook, but it’s hard to fathom a loss on MSU’s Homecoming.
vs Cal Poly
After a bye week and before a tough final stretch of the season, MSU’s offense should have a big day against Cal Poly’s struggling defense.
at No. 10 Sacramento State
MSU hasn’t beaten Sac State since 2015. Then again, the two have only met twice since then with the last matchup coming in 2019. The 2022 Big Sky co-champs both finished 8-0 in the standings. Adding to this great matchup is the national spotlight of ESPN2.
There’s a narrative that Sac State loses a ton from last year’s team. When in fact the Hornets bring back a majority of the starting lineup. The starters they do lose, though, are star names. The stakes will be high in this one, and so will the points. The battle-tested Bobcats find a way to pull out a win.
at No. 5 Idaho
After an emotional win, MSU runs out of gas in its fourth road game against potentially a Top 10 team.
I don’t know if Idaho will have the front seven to slow down MSU’s rushing attack. And I don’t know if the Bobcats will have the secondary to slow down Idaho’s passing attack. Coming off of a bye, the Vandals pull away in the second half.
vs Northern Arizona
NAU gave the Bobcats all they could handle last year in Flagstaff in a 41-38 MSU win. MSU’s secondary will be tested again here, but expect the Bobcats to get back on track in front of their home crowd.
vs Eastern Washington
Another close road win for MSU last year is now played in Bozeman this fall. EWU has big defensive questions to answer, which won’t bode well vs. an offense that looks likely to lead the Big Sky in scoring again.
at No. 16 Montana
Montana knew the run was coming and still couldn’t stop MSU’s rushing attack in last year’s 55-21 loss where the Griz allowed 439 yards on the ground and 6.7 yards per carry. With three All-Big Sky First Team/FCS All-American names gone from the defense, it may be the same story in 2023.
Playing in Missoula could be an equalizer, but MSU is likely playing for a Top 4 seed at this point. With that at stake, and if their offense is healthy, the Bobcats may be hitting their peak at the right time similar to 2022.
Regular-Season Record Prediction: 9-2
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