BOZEMAN — Montana State has waited eight months for a chance to avenge its FCS semifinal loss to South Dakota State from last December.
“We knew walking off that field that we’d have another shot at them," Bobcats coach Brent Vigen said. "I know our guys don’t want to come up short again. So what do you do about it? You don’t talk about it. You just go to work.”
Playing the No. 1-ranked Jackrabbits, the defending national champions, in September versus December will mean no subzero temperatures and no snow on the ground, but a perhaps larger, louder crowd.
The No. 3- ranked Bobcats know there’s a drastic change in elements this time, but the external factors are no more than an afterthought.
“We try not to worry about where we’re at, who we’re playing," MSU defensive end Kenneth Eiden IV said. "We’ll try and keep it about us, and you know, we’ll play them in the parking lot if we need to. It doesn’t matter where, when, how.
“I think it just comes down to who wants it more, and we’re going to have to go out there and really put on a show.”
Even with this being an early game in the season, it’s one of the most anticipated games of the FCS schedule. It’s a game where every possession matters.
“It’s going to be one of those games that I’d imagine it would come down to the fourth quarter, and to get there you need to play well on both sides of the ball," Vigen said. "We need to push to gain an advantage in special teams, on that side of things, but they’re good at all three phases.”
The Bobcats' run game, again catching national attention after dominating in 63-20 win over Utah Tech last week, will have to show up.
Running back Jared White, out with an injury last season, represents how ready the position group is for this moment.
“That South Dakota State game last year, that was a game I wanted to be a part of badly," White said. "I always tell myself you can’t get too high, get too low, but this game I’m excited about. I’m ready to show people what I can do.”
What’s been key for the Bobcats is their ability to push each other in preparation for a game like this.
Each time the team goes against each other in practice, they’re going up against some of the best in the country.
“Iron sharpens iron as we say around here, so going against the best, it helps prepare you for good teams like South Dakota State," Eiden said.
Saturday's game is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. Mountain time from SDSU's Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. It will be broadcast on the Montana Television Network.