It's been a strange and difficult last seven days for the Montana State Bobcats and Montana Grizzlies.
And though both teams have important games Saturday, they're important for different reasons.
The No. 3 Bobcats (1-1) host NCAA Division II Colorado-Mesa Saturday in Bozeman. Normally, that's not cause for concern but the Cats will be without senior quarterback DeNarius McGhee for the first time in 40 games.
In a last-second loss at FBS power SMU last Saturday night, McGhee suffered a separated throwing shoulder and is out for several weeks, if not longer. Earlier this week, MSU head coach Rob Ash said McGhee will be out until at least October, and that his return date is a moving target.
That puts red-shirt sophomore Jake Bleskin, a former CMR standout, in the starting role Saturday. Bleskin was a former Class AA star, but has thrown just eight passes in his MSU career. Still, Bleskin is blessed with star running backs Cody Kirk and Shawn Johnson behind him.
Meanwhile, the No. 11 Grizzlies (1-0) are coming off a bye week after throttling Appalachian State in an emotional home opener Aug. 31. The bye week wasn't ideal this early in the season, but the Griz did have ample time to get ready for North Dakota.
And Montana certainly needs to be prepared. Last year in Grand Forks, the Green and White put up a Big Sky record 600 yards passing on the Griz in a seven-point victory. Though UM bounced back the following week, the game in Grand Forks last season was devastating to the Grizzly defense, and UM will look to remedy that situation on Saturday night.
Montana will also seek to exploit a porous North Dakota defense with its running game, which gained 250 yards in the Grizzly opener.
The Cats host Colorado Mesa Saturday at 1:30 p.m. UM's visit to North Dakota is set for 5 p.m. Both games can be seen on Max Media Channel 5 in Havre.