by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Robert Casey of Weber State Athletics
Oh, how time flies. It feels like the Weber State Wildcats were starting their season just yesterday, but here we are in the second round of the college football playoffs. This game is going to be worth the wait.
After a hard-fought 38-31 victory for the #10 ranked Wildcats, they head into what will likely be their most formidable challenge of the season: the number three Montana State Bobcats. Weber State matched up against the Bobcats for conference play back in October, where Montana State narrowly squeaked out a 43-38 victory, so the Wildcats are seeking revenge to keep their playoff hopes alive.
This game will be the 57th duel between the two squads, but the first ever in the FCS playoffs, which makes it mean that much more for each team.
If Weber State hopes to turn the tides in this game, they will have to learn from their previous encounter with their rival.
Keys to the Game
Defense Defense Defense
Defense wins championships. There’s a reason the phrase is so overused. And fortunately for the Wildcats, they have the defensive edge in this matchup are the #10 ranked scoring defense in the country.
More than anything, Weber State needs to rely heavily on its rushing defense. The Wildcats have a very respectable rush defense ranked #30 in the country, only allowing 126.9 yards per game, but their woes in their previous matchup against the Bobcats were a major reason they lost the game. Montana State’s rushing attack, led by sophomore quarterback Tommy Mellott, is a critical part of their gameplan as they rank number two in the country with an unbelievable 325.7 yards per game. This tactic worked out nicely for MSU in their previous matchup against WSU, as Mellott ran for 273 yards and three touchdowns in an utter display of dominance.
The Wildcats are 10-1 this season when leading after the first quarter while outscoring opponents 142-45 in the first segment of the game. It will be difficult to continue this trend against such an offensive juggernaut, ranked number three in the nation in scoring offense. Still, WSU isn’t sitting so far behind in offensive productivity.
Sophomore quarterback Bronson Barron with the help of his supporting cast needs to put up numbers to compete with MSU. Fortunately, Barron doesn’t make too many mistakes, and as long as that trend continues, the Wildcats should be right in this game.
Both teams come into this game with a lot of momentum, so it wouldn’t be shocking for either team to grab a statement victory. The Wildcat defense will pick it up from their last game against each other, and Weber State will assert itself early and keep its momentum going.
Weber State 41 – Montana State 35
The Wildcats will go to MSU on Saturday, December 3 at 1 pm MST, which will likely be a game of the candidate.