BOZEMAN — Through two weeks of action, Montana State has proven to be a powerhouse once again in the FCS sitting steadily at No. 4 in the national polls.
However, while their back-to-back lopsided victories to start the year shouldn’t be overlooked, their Week Three opponent is a level of play they haven’t seen yet as they travel to Portland to take on Oregon State.
“This week on paper the challenge is much greater and a lot of respect goes to Oregon State," Bobcats head coach Brent Vigen stated in Monday's presser. "Really impressive what Coach [Jonathan] Smith has done in his time there going back to his alma mater and not only stabilizing it but raising their level.”
For the first time since 2014, Oregon State is off to a 2-0 start, most recently coming off a program-defining win at Fresno State thanks to a gutsy play call on the final snap of the game.
With just three seconds left on the clock, the Beavers decided to go for the win from two yards out rather than kicking a field goal to tie, and it paid off, winning in Fresno 35-32 for the first time in program history.
“Finding a way to win like they did on Saturday night," Vigen paused. "Those moments - coaches and players - are moments you really build off of, and I’d imagine for them that was a really big deal.”
It’s a level of intensity the Bobcats are expecting to see again this Saturday closing out non-conference play in what’s supposed to be a soldout crowd of more than 25,000.
“We’re going to have our hands full," Vigen stated. "They have a lot of really good players, a lot of experienced players on both sides of the football. You know, we do too. I think our guys are prepared to do that.”
A player high on Montana State's scouting report this week is Jack Colletto, the Beaver’s swiss army knife and wildcat quarterback in Saturday’s win.
The redshirt senior is listed as an inside linebacker but also leads the team in touchdowns with three recorded on the ground so far.
“They’re being very creative on how they’re using him, and I’d imagine they’ve only shown part of what they’re capable of doing," Vigen expressed.
That’s why one of the big goals on Saturday is limiting red zone appearances, a stat that boasts 100-percent efficiency so far this season.
“I think what they’re trying to do as a team is really play complementary football," he added. "You can tell on offense that they have a plan to run it, and they have a plan to spread people out and everything in between.”
Defensively, Vigen didn’t shy away from the fact that Oregon State’s front might be one of the best groups they face all season, which is why ball protection is going to be key this weekend, especially winning the turnover margin.
“The turnover margin is where you see the real difference between the winners and the losers of any game," senior safety Jeffrey Manning Jr. stated. "I feel like us just keep holding on to the ball offensively and then us forcing takeaways and getting takeaways is going to pay huge dividends come Saturday.”
Montana State versus Oregon State kicks off in Portland at Providence Park Saturday at 6 p.m. Mountain Time.