Cat / Griz Game
First contestedNovember 25, 1897; Template:Years or months ago
Montana, 18–6
Number of meetings117   (one vacated: 2011)
Most recent meetingNovember 17, 2018 in Missoula
Montana State, 29–25
Next meetingNovember 23, 2019 in Bozeman
All-time seriesMontana leads .637; with both in NCAA Montana leads .525; with both in Big Sky, Montana leads .545
Largest victoryMontana, 79–0 (1904)
Longest win streakMontana 16 (1986–2001)
Current streakMontana State 3 (2016–present)

The Montana–Montana State football rivalry is an annual college football rivalry game between the University of Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State University Bobcats. Also known as Cat-Griz, Griz-Cat and the winner receives the Great Divide Trophy.[1][2]

The rivalry began in 1897, making it the 31st oldest in NCAA Division I and the 11th oldest west of the Mississippi River. It is also the fourth-oldest Football Championship Subdivision rivalry. Montana leads the series 72–40–5, but that margin is 32–29, which is considerably smaller, since Montana State joined the NCAA in 1957. The game, especially of late, has major implications for the Big Sky Conference championship and its automatic bid to the Division I – FCS playoffs.


The rivalry began on November 26, 1897 when the two teams played in Bozeman, home of Montana State. Montana prevailed in that game by the score of 18–6. At the time, Montana State was known as Montana State College, while Montana was known as Montana State University. The rivalry is the 31st oldest among active rivalries in all of NCAA Division I, and of those, it is the eleventh oldest west of the Mississippi River. It is also the fourth oldest active rivalry in the FCS and the oldest west of the Mississippi River.

The series has three distinct periods. From 1897 to 1916, Montana State did not belong to a conference, while Montana was in the Northwest Intercollegiate Athletic Association. In addition to Montana, the Northwest Conference included Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Idaho, and Whitman College. At times, the two teams would play twice per year. Early seasons had seven games or less, and one season the teams played just one game. Four of the five ties in the series came during this era. Montana won 12 games to Montana State's 7.

Montana State joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) in 1917, and Montana joined the Pacific Coast Conference (today's Pac-12 Conference) in 1924. The RMAC included several teams that later became Mountain West Conference members. When MSU joined the RMAC, it included Colorado, Colorado State, Utah, Utah State, and Brigham Young. When UM joined the PCC, it included Stanford, California, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, and Idaho. The Bobcats were a member of the RMAC, which moved into the NAIA, in 1938 and remained a member through 1956. The Grizzlies were a member of the PCC through the 1949 season before joining the Skyline (a.k.a., Mountain States) Conference, which included Colorado, Utah State, Denver, Utah, Colorado State, Brigham Young, New Mexico and Wyoming from 1951–1961. MSU was independent from 1957–1962 and UM was independent in 1950 and 1962. During this period UM enjoyed a 30–8–1 edge in Cat-Griz games, while MSU won the NAIA national title in 1956.

Both schools entered the Big Sky Conference as charter members in 1963 with Montana holding a 43–15–2 series lead. Prior to that, UM was in conferences with what are now FBS and Power 5 conference schools, while MSU was either not in a conference or in a NAIA conference, for 30 of the 59 games played. UM holds a 22–5–3 record in those games.

In the first 23 years of the Big Sky Conference, Montana State enjoyed its most successful period in the Cat-Griz rivalry with a 17–6 win-loss record and two national titles. A new period began in 1986, often known in Montana as "The Streak," in which Montana won sixteen straight games in the series. A few of these games were close, but most of them gave a strong indication that the two football programs were going in very different directions. Montana won two NCAA Division I-AA championships during "The Streak," while Montana State had one season where it failed to win a single game. Montana State finally snapped "The Streak" in 2002, winning at Montana, and the post-Streak record stands at 8–8. In the Big Sky era, Montana holds a 30–25 lead. Since both teams joined the NCAA in 1957, UM holds a 32–29 lead.

While UM holds a sizeable lead in the all-time series, Montana State has won more conference championships (20) and more national championships (3). UM has won 18 league titles and two national titles.

  • Montana was penalized by the NCAA on July 26, 2013 and forced to vacate its last five wins of the 2011 season. One win was against Montana State.

Great Divide TrophyEdit

The Great Divide Trophy was created in 2001 by Dave Samuelson, which was made possible by numerous donations. The winner of each game possesses the trophy for one year. The school with the most wins during the trophy period will hold the trophy forever at the end of the 21st century.

Montana was the first school to receive the trophy following their victory in the 2001 game. Since then, the trophy has since changed hands eight times. As of 2018, the trophy is in the possession of Montana State. Montana holds a 9–8 series lead since the trophy was introduced to the rivalry.


Notable games Edit

1968 Edit

In 1968, in what is considered by many to be the most exciting game in the series, quarterback Dennis Erickson, flanker Ron Bain and running back Paul Schafer lead a monumental comeback as the Bobcats clinched a tie for the Big Sky championship—their third straight. Trailing 24–9 in the fourth quarter, Montana State scored 20 points in the last nine minutes and won 29–24 when Schafer, who had 58 carries for 234 yards in the game, dove into the end zone with 12 seconds left. The Grizzlies appeared to have the drive stopped at the MSU 32, but a facemask penalty gave the Cats new life on the 17.

In all, 34 points were scored in the final quarter. Bain's brother, Doug of the Grizzlies, gave Montana a 17–9 lead early in the quarter on a pass from Ray Brum. After another UM touchdown made the score 24–9 with just over 10 minutes to go, it looked as if the Grizzlies would win going away, but the Bobcats rallied. Schaefer scored on a short run with 8:15 to play and Erickson hit Bain for a touchdown with five minutes left cutting the lead to two at 24–22.

After Schafer's touchdown, the Grizzlies nearly spoiled things for MSU. UM took over at the 20. Speedy receiver Ron Baines gained 15 yards, on top of which another 15 were tacked on for an unnecessary roughness penalty. Baines then made a circus run of 37 yards from midfield before he was dragged down at the MSU 13 by MSU defensive back Terry Brown as time expired.

1997 Edit

In another exciting finish in the series, Montana State fought back from a 21–7 halftime deficit only to lose 27-25 on an improbable last-second field goal by Kris Heppner. Just as the first half ended, MSU was whistled for having too many men on the field, which gave Montana one extra play. The Grizzlies made the Bobcats pay for this mistake by scoring a touchdown on a long TD pass by Brian Ah Yat to end the half. Behind the passing of Rob Compson MSU methodically worked its way back into the game and took a 25–24 lead on a three-yard run by Eric Kinnamon with 22 seconds to play in Bobcat Stadium. The Bobcats appeared poised to snap an 11-game losing streak to the Grizzlies, but Montana wasn't done.

Thanks to a kickoff that sailed out of bounds, Montana got the ball on its own 35-yard line with no time expended from the clock. After an incomplete pass, UM quarterback Brian Ah Yat found receiver Justin Olsen for a completion of 46 yards to the MSU 19 with eight seconds to play. Ah Yat recovered his own muffed snap on the next play. After a UM timeout, Kris Heppner kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired, giving Montana the 27–25 win.

The Bobcats also misfired on special teams all game. Prior to kicking the ball out of bounds, they failed on three extra point attempts, which would've given them a 28-24 lead on Kinnamon's touchdown and forced UM to score a touchdown instead of a field on its final drive.

1998 Edit

Montana State would get its heart broken again a year later. Leading in this game 21–20, and ahead for most of the second half, the Bobcats fell when Dallas Neil took a pass from Brian Ah Yat and tightroped the sideline for an 18-yard touchdown with just over five minutes to play. UM converted the two-point attempt and the Grizzlies won 28–21.

The game was played at a slippery Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, and extended the UM winning streak to 13 over MSU.

2002 Edit

The Bobcats would finally put an end to their losing streak against the Griz at 16 games when true freshman quarterback Travis Lulay led them to a 10–7 win in Missoula on a snowy, windy day. Lulay connected with Junior Adams for a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and after a fumble led to Montana's lone score of the day, MSU's defense made the 10–7 score hold up.

The Bobcats held UM quarterback John Edwards to just 8-for-32 and 106 yards passing on the day. Edwards completed just one pass in the first half. MSU was led by senior running back Ryan Johnson, who ran for 132 yards, and cornerback Joey Thomas, who blocked a field goal and played a big role in Edwards' struggles.

2010 Edit

The Grizzlies needed a win in their final regular season game to continue its string of 12 straight conference championships and 17 straight playoff appearances. The Bobcats needed a win to clinch the conference title and a seed in the playoffs. With the game being played in Missoula, the Grizzlies appeared to have the advantage, but MSU scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and made them hold up for a 21–16 win with clutch defensive play in the second half.

UM advanced the ball inside the MSU 10-yard line twice in the second half, but the Bobcats forced fumbles on both possessions, including one by star running back Chase Reynolds. UM drove to the MSU 14 for a first and 10 with under two minutes to play, but MSU defensive end Dustin O'Connell came through for the Bobcats. O'Connell (who had just returned from a severely broken collarbone) and linebacker Jody Owens dropped Reynolds for a one-yard loss on first down. O'Connell then hurried UM quarterback Justin Roper into throwing an incomplete pass on second down, and batted down a pass intended for a wide-open Kavario Middleton on third down. Roper threw the ball out of bounds on fourth down. UM would get one more chance to score when it moved the ball to the MSU 34, but the Bobcats sealed the win with an interception on the goal line by senior captain Michael Rider on the last play of the game.

2011 Edit

Montana State entered the 111th clash as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation for the first time since 1985. The Grizzlies put an end to that in humiliating fashion with a 36–10 win in front of the largest crowd (20,247) to attend a Cat-Griz game in Bozeman.

A safety by UM cornerback Trumaine Johnson helped set up a short TD pass on a fourth-down pass late in the first half to give UM a 12–0 lead. After Montana State scored quickly to start the second half, the Grizzlies answered on the next play with a 79-yard bomb from Jordan Johnson to Jabin Sambrano. UM cruised from there. Montana finished the game with 309 yards rushing.

On July 26, 2013, Montana vacated this win and four others from the 2011 season after an NCAA investigation found that the university had insufficiently monitored its football program,[3] enabling boosters to provide gifts and services to players against NCAA regulations. The investigation determined that boosters had provided bail and free legal counsel to two players, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and backup quarterback Gerald Kemp, and that six boosters had provided smaller benefits to players over 100 times between 2004 and 2012.

2012 Edit

Montana hadn't had a losing season since 1986, the year it moved into Washington-Grizzly Stadium, but that would all change as the Bobcats won 16–7 to take their second straight win and third in six tries in what is arguably the toughest road venue in the FCS. The loss left the Grizzlies with a 5–6 overall mark and a 3–5 conference mark. They finished the year 3–3 at home, the first time they failed to finish above .500 at home.

After a first-quarter touchdown gave UM a 7–3 lead, MSU didn't allow another point and only gave up 192 yards in holding Montana to one of its lowest scoring outputs in stadium history. Kruiz Siewing, from tiny Saco, Montana, scored MSU's only TD on a pass from DeNarius McGhee, and Rory Perez kicked three field goals, including the game-clincher with 2:32 to play.

2016 Edit

Montana State, which came into the game with a 3–7 record, went into Missoula and rushed for the most yards (368) by an opponent in Washington-Grizzly Stadium history, as it knocked off Montana, 24–17. The loss eliminated the Grizzlies from the FCS playoffs, by virtue of the Griz's 6–5 season record. It marked the first time that both teams missed the playoffs since 1992.

The Bobcats found themselves in a 7–0 hole after the first offensive play of the game by UM, as Brady Gustafson hit Justin Calhoun from 58 yards. MSU would allow just one first down the rest of the half, however, and true freshman quarterback Chris Murray scored from eight yards away when he flipped into the end zone on a running play, and again from 48 yards out when he out-raced UM's defenders to give the Bobcats a 14–7 halftime lead. A pair of long runs by Gunnar Brekke (65 yards) and Nick LaSane (61 yards) set up a field goal, and touchdown as MSU stretched its lead to 24–7.

The Grizzlies mounted a comeback with 10 straight points, but surrendered the ball on downs at the MSU 29 with 6:20 to play. The Bobcats, who had gone 3-and-out on their previous two series, were able to drain the clock on the ensuing possession. Murray ran for two first downs, then completed a 26-yard pass to Connor Sullivan on fourth-and-1 to seal the win.

Murray completed just two passes in the game, but rushed for 142 yards to become the third MSU freshman quarterback to start and win a Cat-Griz game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. He joined Travis Lulay and DeNarius McGhee, who accomplished the feat in 2002 and 2010, respectively.

2018 Edit

The greatest comeback and most amazing finish in Cat-Griz history occurred in 2018 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula when Montana State rallied from a 22-0 deficit to a 29-25 win when it forced and recovered a fumble after Montana advanced the ball to within one-foot of the goal line with 14 seconds to play. The play, referred to as "The Miracle in Missoula" was made possible when MSU coach Jeff Choate called a timeout just before the Grizzlies ran a play from the same spot that appeared to give them the go-ahead score.

Choate called the timeout to get a look at the formation UM was going to set up. When the Bobcats re-took the field UM was in the essentially the same formation. Two MSU interior linemen, Tucker Yates and Chase Benson knocked the interior linemen for UM on their heels and middle linebacker Grant Collins dove into UM running back Adam Eastwood. Yates jarred the ball loose from Eastwood and Collins knocked it to the ground where defensive end Derek Marks recovered the ball to send the MSU bench into a frenzy.

UM scored on its first drive and the Grizzly' defense held MSU to just 50 yards until late in the second quarter, while tacking on two more scores behind the strong passing of quarterback Dalton Sneed to take a 22-0 lead. MSU would get on the board in the final minute of the first half to cut the lead to 22-7, which was a boon for the Bobcats who were set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half.

The Bobcats couldn't do much with the momentum, however, and the two teams trade punts for most of the third quarter before the Bobcats drove inside the Grizzly 10 as the fourth quarter started. MSU quarterback Troy Andersen, who scored the Bobcats' first touchdown, scored again and also ran in a two-point conversion to cap off an 88-yard drive and whittle the lead down to 22-15. It was the first of three straight scoring drives for MSU.

After a UM field goal made it 25-15, the Bobcats marched 75 yards and once again got a TD run by Andersen to draw within three points at 25-22. On UM's next possession Collins forced and recovered a Sneed fumble to set up the Bobcats in Montana territory. Facing a first-and-20 on the UM 21 the Bobcats got an eight-yard run by Andersen and a 13-yard TD run by Logan Jones to take the lead with just over two minutes to play.

The Grizzlies would take the kickoff back to the 50-yard line and then worked the ball inside the one-yard line before MSU thwarted them. The win also earned the Bobcats a berth in the FCS playoffs and marked the third straight win in the rivalry. The win matched the 1968 game for biggest fourth quarter comebacks as MSU trailed by 15 points in both games. Sneed finished with 354 yards passing and two touchdown passes in the loss. Two UM receivers Samuel Akem (147) and Keenan Curran (111) had over 100 yards receiving. Andersen ran for 107 yards and three TDs, while Travis Jonsen had 101 yards receiving for MSU and Bobcat' punter Jared Padmos had three punts downed inside the five-yard line.

Accomplishments by the two rivalsEdit

Team Montana Montana State
National titles 2 3
Conference titles 18 20
Consensus All-Americans 43 23
Walter Payton Trophies1 0
Buck Buchanan Trophies1 2
All-time program record 587–493–26 498–486–33
All-time win percentage .542 .505

Game resultsEdit

Montana victoriesMontana State victoriesTie gamesVacated wins
1 1897 Bozeman, MT Montana 18–6
2 1898 Missoula, MT Montana 6–0
3 1898 Missoula, MT Montana 16–0
4 1899 Missoula, MT Montana State 5–0
5 1899 Missoula, MT Montana State 38–0
6 1900 Missoula, MT Montana State 38–0
7 1901 Missoula, MT Montana State 31–0
8 1902 Missoula, MT Montana State 38–0
9 1903 Missoula, MT Montana State 13–6
10 1904 Missoula, MT Montana 79–0
11 1908 Missoula, MT Tie0–0
12 1908 Bozeman, MT Montana State 5–0
13 1909 Bozeman, MT Montana 3–0
14 1909 Missoula, MT Montana 15–5
15 1910 Bozeman, MT Tie0–0
16 1910 Missoula, MT Montana 10–0
17 1912 Bozeman, MT Montana 7–0
18 1912 Missoula, MT Montana 39–3
19 1913 Bozeman, MT Montana 7–0
20 1913 Missoula, MT Montana 20–7
21 1914 Missoula, MT Montana 26–9
22 1916 Bozeman, MT Tie6–6
23 1917 Missoula, MT Montana 9–7
24 1919 Bozeman, MT Tie6–6
25 1920 Missoula, MT Montana 28–0
26 1921 Bozeman, MT Montana 14–7
27 1922 Missoula, MT Montana 7–6
28 1923 Bozeman, MT Montana 24–13
29 1925 Missoula, MT Montana 28–7
30 1926 Butte, MT Montana 27–0
31 1927 Butte, MT Montana 6–0
32 1928 Butte, MT Tie0–0
33 1929 Butte, MT Montana State 14–12
34 1930 Butte, MT Montana 13–6
35 1931 Butte, MT Montana 37–6
36 1932 Butte, MT Montana State 10–7
37 1933 Butte, MT Montana 32–0
38 1934 Butte, MT Montana 25–0
39 1935 Butte, MT Montana 20–0
40 1936 Butte, MT Montana 27–0
41 1937 Butte, MT Montana 19–0
42 1938 Butte, MT Montana 13–0
43 1939 Butte, MT Montana 6–0
44 1940 Butte, MT Montana 6–0
45 1941 Butte, MT Montana 23–13
46 1946 Butte, MT Montana 20–7
47 1947 Butte, MT Montana State 13–12
48 1948 Butte, MT Montana 14–0
49 1949 Butte, MT Montana 34–12
50 1950 Butte, MT Montana 33–0
51 1951 Butte, MT Montana 38–0
52 1952 Missoula, MT Montana 35–12
53 1953 Bozeman, MT Montana 32–13
54 1954 Missoula, MT Montana 25–12
55 1955 Bozeman, MT Montana 19–0
56 1956 Missoula, MT Montana State 33–14
57 1957 Bozeman, MT Montana State 22–13
58 1958 Missoula, MT Montana State 20–6
59 1959 Bozeman, MT Montana State 40–6
60 1960 Missoula, MT Montana 10–6
61 1961 Bozeman, MT Montana State 10–9
62 1962 Missoula, MT Montana 36–19
63 1963 Bozeman, MT Montana State 18–3
64 1964 Missoula, MT Montana State 30–6
65 1965 Bozeman, MT Montana State 24–7
66 1966 Missoula, MT Montana State 38–0
67 1967 Bozeman, MT Montana State 14–8
68 1968 Missoula, MT Montana State 29–24
69 1969 Bozeman, MT Montana 7–6
70 1970 Missoula, MT Montana 35–0
71 1971 Bozeman, MT Montana 30–0
72 1972 Missoula, MT Montana State 21–3
73 1973 Bozeman, MT Montana State 33–7
74 1974 Missoula, MT Montana State 43–29
75 1975 Bozeman, MT Montana State 20–3
76 1976 Missoula, MT Montana State 21–12
77 1977 Bozeman, MT Montana State 24–19
78 1978 Missoula, MT Montana 24–8
79 1979 Bozeman, MT Montana State 38–21
80 1980 Missoula, MT Montana State 24–7
81 1981 Bozeman, MT Montana 27–17
82 1982 Missoula, MT Montana 45–15
83 1983 Bozeman, MT Montana State 28–8
84 1984 Missoula, MT Montana State 34–24
85 1985 Bozeman, MT Montana State 41–18
86 1986 Missoula, MT Montana 59–28
87 1987 Bozeman, MT Montana 55–7
88 1988 Missoula, MT Montana 17–3
89 1989 Bozeman, MT Montana 17–2
90 1990 Missoula, MT Montana 35–18
91 1991 Bozeman, MT Montana 16–9
92 1992 Missoula, MT Montana 29–17
93 1993 Bozeman, MT Montana 42–30
94 1994 Missoula, MT Montana 55–20
95 1995 Bozeman, MT Montana 42–33
96 1996 Missoula, MT Montana 35–14
97 1997 Bozeman, MT Montana 27–25
98 1998 Missoula, MT Montana 28–21
99 1999 Bozeman, MT Montana 49–3
100 2000 Missoula, MT Montana 28–3
101 2001 Bozeman, MT Montana 38–27
102 2002 Missoula, MT Montana State 10–7
103 2003 Bozeman, MT Montana State 27–20
104 2004 Missoula, MT Montana 38–22
105 2005 Bozeman, MT Montana State 16–6
106 2006 Missoula, MT Montana 13–7
107 2007 Bozeman, MT Montana 41–20
108 2008 Missoula, MT Montana 35–3
109 2009 Bozeman, MT Montana 33–19
110 2010 Missoula, MT #6 Montana State 21–16
111 2011* Bozeman, MT #7 Montana 36–10
112 2012 Missoula, MT #2 Montana State 16–7
113 2013 Bozeman, MT #5 Montana 28–14
114 2014 Missoula, MT #13 Montana 34–7
115 2015 Bozeman, MT #17 Montana 54–35
116 2016 Missoula, MT Montana State 24–17
117 2017 Bozeman, MT Montana State 31–23
118 2018 Missoula, MT #25 Montana State 29–25
Series: Montana leads 72–40–5
^* Montana was penalized by the NCAA on July 26, 2013 and forced to vacate its last five wins of the 2011 season, including the win against Montana State.[3]

Coaching recordsEdit

Since 1946


Head Coach Team Games Seasons Wins Losses Ties Pct.
Doug Fessenden Montana 31946–48210.667
Ted Shipkey Montana 31949–513001.000 
Ed Chinske Montana 31952–543001.000 
Jerry Williams Montana 31955–57120.333
Ray Jenkins Montana 61958–63240.333
Hugh Davidson       Montana      31964–663001.000 
Jack Swarthout Montana 91967–75360.333
Gene Carlson Montana 41976–79130.250
Larry Donovan Montana 61980–8524 .333
Don Read Montana 101986–95100 1.000 
Mick Dennehy Montana 41996–9940 1.000 
Joe Glenn Montana 32000–0221 .667
Bobby Hauck (a) Montana 72003–0952 .714
Robin Pflugrad Montana 22010–1111 .500
Mick Delaney Montana 32012–1421 .667
Bob Stitt Montana 32015–1712 .333
Bobby Hauck (b) Montana 1201801 .000

Montana StateEdit

Head Coach Team Games Seasons Wins Losses Ties Pct.
Clyde Carpenter Montana State 41946–48130.250
John H. Mason Montana State 21950–51020.000
Tony Storti Montana State 51952–57230.400
Wally Lemm Montana State 11955010.000
Herb Agocs Montana State 51958–62320.600
Jim Sweeney Montana State 51963–67320.600
Tom Parac Montana State 31968–70120.333
Sonny Holland Montana State 71971–77610.857
Sonny Lubick Montana State 41978–81220.500
Doug Graber Montana State 1198201 .000
Dave Arnold Montana State 41983–8631 .750
Earle Solomonson Montana State 51987–9105 .000
Cliff Hysell Montana State 81992–9908 .000
Mike Kramer Montana State 72000–0634 .429
Rob Ash Montana State 92007–1527 .222
Jeff Choate Montana State 32016–1830 1.000 
  • Last tie was in 1928 and the Big Sky enacted overtime for conference games in 1980;[4]
    all Division I games went to overtime in 1996 (none in this series through 2017).

See alsoEdit

References Edit

External linksEdit

Template:Big Sky Conference football rivalry navbox

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