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From the Fringe: As good as they've looked so far, Cats and Griz have plenty to work on

I keep saying it. But it bares repeating - The Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats are really good this season.

The numbers don't lie, as both the Griz and Cats are off to perfect starts against FCS competition, and are a combined 10-1 so far, the Cats' lone loss coming to FBS Oregon State. Yes, against FCS, and Big Sky teams, UM and MSU are perfect. A perfect record that is.

The FCS Polls also tell the tale to both program's hot starts. Montana is No. 3 in the FCS and MSU is right behind at No. 4. The Sagarin ratings are about the same. The Griz and Cats are two of the highest rated FCS teams in the country when it comes to that computer power ranking.

Then there's the eye test.

If you've watched the Griz, or the Cats, or both, then you've seen just how good they are. Both teams are loaded with talent, veteran and young. Both have dynamic quarterbacks who are putting up big numbers, and both have tough, hard-nosed playmakers on tenacious defenses.

That's right, in the stands, or at home watching on television, it's easy to see just how good the two Montana teams are this year.

Good, maybe even great.

And yet, they certainly have their flaws.

The Bobcats for starters, have had some trouble stopping the run. The Cats have given up gobs of points and yards, and even touchdowns, surprisingly on the ground now, in their last three games. And while MSU is built on defense, that revamped Cat defense needs to shore things up as the season goes on.

MSU is also dealing with a rash of injuries, to starters on both sides of the ball, including starting QB Tommy Mellott. Now, MSU's depth on offense has overcome those injuries, but at some point, the injury bug will catch up with even the best of programs.

Montana is, despite the record, by no means perfect either.

Last week's win at Idaho State was certainly not the Griz' best showing. And it highlighted a couple areas where the Griz need to keep improving if they want to win their first Big Sky title since 2009.

Montana can, at times, struggle to run the ball, and while they did it well at ISU, that hasn't been the case for much of the season. Unlike the Bobcats, who are leading the Big Sky in rushing by a wide, wide margin, the Griz are just fifth in the league in rushing. On the other side of the ball, Montana looks near perfect, as they lead the league in almost every defensive category. However, keep an eye on Montana's ability to stop quick passing attacks. That's something Idaho State at least made the Griz look vulnerable last Saturday.

Now to be fair, in all of those games I just mentioned, the Griz and Cats won, with the exception of MSU's loss at OSU. And, I'll agree, a win is a win.

All I'm saying is, Montana and Montana State, like everybody else, need to keep getting better, and while they're trying to get better, the Big Sky will get tougher and tougher.

Yes, it's been a lot of fun watching the Cats and Griz so far, and October and November will probably be even more so. So let's hope both teams keep improving, because no one's perfect, and anyone can get beat on any given Saturday.

But, as huge a fan of the Brawl of the Wild, we don't want that to happen. And if both teams keep improving, especially where they may have weaknesses, then we'll all get what we're hoping for, the most anticipated Cat-Griz game ever.

Montana State is home to host Idaho Saturday at 1 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium. The game can be viewed on all MTN affiliates. The Griz have a bye this week.


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