George Ferguson Column: As they run over everybody, the Cats are too good to be underdogs

From The Fringe...


Last updated 12/9/2022 at 1:47pm

406 Sports

Isaiah Ifanse and the Montana State Bobcats host William and Mary in the FCS quarterfinals tonight in Bozeman.

Here we go again. Only this time, you're no longer the underdog.

It's December, and for third straight December, the Montana State Bobcats are on a roll. For the third time in as many seasons, the Bobcats look like a team that could win an FCS national championship.

The difference this year though? The word "should" in that sentence might need to be substituted for the word "could."

Yep, that's correct, of all the teams left in the FCS playoffs, the Bobcats look like one of three teams that are legitimate contenders to win it all come January in Frisco.

I don't think anyone thought the Cats' run to the semifinals in 2019, which ended in a 42-14 loss to North Dakota State, was a run in which MSU was going to win a national championship.

Then, last season, I don't think anyone thought the Cats were the favorite when the playoffs started, especially with a true freshman quarterback, and even when the Cats reached the national championship game, I doubt many folks gave them much of a chance against the nine-time national champion Bison. The Cats were no doubt the underdog in that game, and in the end, it showed.

Now though, there's absolutely no way Montana State can be an underdog. Are they the hands down favorite? No. That's because no-one has dethroned NDSU, yet, and South Dakota State is the No. 1 overall seed. But, alongside those two teams, the Cats are certainly one of the favorites to win it all.

And the way they're playing, I think they absolutely should win it all.

For an entire season, the Bobcats have been about one thing above all - running the football. It's on film for everyone to see. The Bobcats run the ball right at their opponents. They run it with Tommy Mellott and Sean Chambers, they run it with about five different running backs, a group that now includes All-American Isaiah Ifanse. And they run it behind a massive offensive line, bolstered by several massive tight ends.

And it's for that reason, I think the Cats should win it all this year, and perhaps next year, too. I just don't see a defense holding MSU down. NDSU has had a vaunted defense for years, and the Bison, too, are built on running the football. But in the NDSU's incredible dynasty, and it is incredible, they've never had to stop a rushing attack like MSU has for four quarters. In fact, in NDSU's sheer domination of the FCS the last decade, about the only rushing attack NDSU has seen that is comparable to what MSU is doing right now, is its own offense in practice.

Of course, the Cats would only see the Bison if both make it back to Frisco in a rematch. So that leaves basically two teams to get in MSU's way of getting there. And I'm just going to say it right now, it ain't going to be William and Mary. Sorry, Tribe, but you're going to get blown out tonight on national television. So that's all that needs to be said.

And after MSU dispatches William and Mary tonight, it's on to a rematch with the Jackrabbits. But while MSU shocked SDSU last year in the semifinals, that game was in Bozeman, and this year, it will be in Brookings. But, while SDSU is a great team and is probably the most complete team in the FCS this season, I just don't see any way they hold the Cats under 30 points, even at home. And if the Cats score 30 (they're averaging 48 ppg), MSU's defense will be good enough to keep the Jacks at bay.

In other words, it comes down to MSU's offense, and I don't see anyone stopping it, including South Dakota State, even at home.

And that is why Montana State should win the national championship. The Cats have the most unique offense I've seen. They seem like a triple-option team but they're not. Instead, MSU is as dynamic as it gets, and while the Jacks and Bison do have great defenses, if the Cats just play like they've been playing, even those two defenses won't be good enough to stop them.

So sorry MSU fans, I know you enjoyed the underdog role last year. I know you enjoyed the "young team" on the rise role. But it's too late for that now. The Cats are too talented, too well-coached, and yes, even plenty experienced enough to be underdogs anymore. And, above all that, their offense is way, way too good, almost unstoppable. And with an offense that elite, you can no longer be underdogs. Instead, you're a favorite.

Note: The Bobcats meet William and Mary tonight at 8:15 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman. The game will be televised on ESPN2.


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2023