Seven games and eight weeks into their 2018 campaign Montana State has posted a modest 4-3 record. While the Bobcats' defense has remained strong — especially in the second half, allowing a total of only 33 fourth-quarter points in their seven outings — as of late their offense has struggled.
This article will take a look at the remaining games and the what the Cats have to do to earn themselves a playoff berth.
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What Montana State Needs To Do
If the Cats want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014 they will need to run the table over their last four games, starting with Idaho State on Saturday. The Bengals, who were voted to finish 12 out of 13 in the 2018 preseason Big Sky coaches poll, have jumped onto the scene, and are currently tied for second in the conference.
Fueled by their high-octane offense, Idaho State is averaging an impressive 41.3 points per game. To take down Idaho State, the Bobcats will need to increase their offensive production and maintain their strong defensive play. HERO Sports' BennettRank currently has the Bengals as 14 point favorites over the Cats.
Next, the Cats will matchup against Cal Poly and Northern Colorado for their last two home games of the 2018 season. These should be fairly easy wins for Montana State as the Mustangs and Bears have a combined three wins on the year. But in FCS, and specifically Big Sky play, any team has the ability to jump and bite another on any given week as fans have seen on multiple occasions this year.
If the Cats make it out of the next three contests unscathed, their playoff hopes will come down to one game, The Brawl of the Wild, which always seems to have playoff implications. While Montana doesn't appear to be the same force fans have seen in previous years, they are still a tough outfit. And playing in Washington Grizzly Stadium isn't easy either. For this game you can basically throw all records and stats out the window, it's going to be a battle.
While Montana State's record is only one game above .500, their only three losses have come to teams currently inside the country's top ten: South Dakota State, Eastern Washington and Weber State. With strength of schedule playing a big part in determining at-large bids, the Cats will be set up nicely.
Seven games into the season the Cats still don't have a win to hang their hats on. Each victory has come from sub-.500 teams.They also have to win out to make the playoffs, which is a tall task in and of itself.
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