The Brawl of the Wild will take place in Bozeman this year, but Montana football fans will celebrate in Missoula and beyond this weekend.
Saturday, the University of Montana Grizzlies take on the Montana State Bobcats in one of the most notorious rivalries in the state. Last year, the Grizzlies looked set to eke out a win, but in the last moments of the game, the Cats forced a fumble and took the trophy — for the third year in a row.
The Grizzlies are ranked third in the STATS FCS poll, and the Bobcats are No. 8. Griz coach Bobby Hauck appears less focused on the Big Sky title than on beating the Cats, according to an assessment by Missoulian sports reporter Frank Gogola.
In a message to students Friday, UM President Seth Bodnar said the game is "one of the most exciting football rivalries in the nation," with bragging rights and a Great Divide Trophy at stake.
"The Brawl may divide us as football fans, but it unites us as Montanans," Bodnar said. "Roughly 90 satellite parties will be held across the country, bringing together both Grizzlies and Bobcats. From Alaska to Florida and Texas to New York, these parties capture the true spirit of this rivalry."
The president also encouraged fans to celebrate the student-athletes who are playing in the game and have the privilege to participate in the battle and, "more importantly, access an education that will prepare them for an exciting future."
"At the conclusion of the game, the score will tell the winning team. And, of course, I’m hoping for a Griz victory," Bodnar said. "However, there are many other wins that will result from this weekend. Families across our state will enjoy Thanksgiving dinner next week and nourishing meals throughout the holiday season, thanks to donations to the 'Can the Cats/Can the Griz' food drive.
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"Lives will be saved, thanks to those who participated in the American Red Cross Blood Battle at both universities. Fans who can’t attend the game will gather together in homes and businesses across Montana and around the country. Memories will be made of time spent together watching the Griz."
According to a news release from UM, the Brawl of the Wild game marks the sixth and final Griz game this season to be broadcast nationwide on ROOT Sports. Veteran broadcaster Tom Glasgow will have the play-by-play, with analysis from Taylor Barton and Jason Stiles reporting from the sideline.
ROOT Sports and its regional affiliates (AT&T Rocky Mountain, Las Vegas, and Southwest) are available on DirecTV, Dish Network, and Spectrum Cable. The game will also be shown nationwide on DirecTV's Audience Network (Ch. 239), part of the satellite provider's basic channel lineup.
A webstream of the game is also available via AT&T Now and AT&T TV (subscription required) via the Audience Network.
UM notes "Voice of the Griz" Riley Corcoran and longtime analyst Greg Sundberg will bring the action live from Bozeman on KGVO Missoula, the flagship station of the Grizzly Sports Radio Network, and its 13 affiliates around the state. Live audio web streams can also be found at GoGriz.com/Listen or on the TuneIn app.
Missoulian reporter Gogola and photo editor Tom Bauer will be on the field in Bozeman. Follow @FrankGogola on Twitter and #grizcat and watch the Missoulian.com for updates.