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Montana Football: It's Serious Business!

Sold-out crowds, cheering students, pepped-up mascots, painted faces, spirited rivalry. It all boils down to one of the Treasure State’s favorite fall pastimes: Montana football. Although out-of-staters may not realize it, football is serious business in Montana. Fans pack the stadiums in Bozeman and Missoula to watch respectively as the Montana State University “Fighting Bobcats” and the University of Montana “Grizzlies” take on their Big Sky Conference opponents. And they do it with good reason. Both teams are consistently ranked in “The Sports Network’s” list of the Top 25 NCAA Division I-AA teams, and both promise games filled with action and nail-biting excitement.

Waving banners of blue and gold, Montana State University fans have followed the Bobcats loyally through seasons of limited success to the glory days of hard-fought gains. The Bozeman-based team is expected to make an exciting 2005 showing with a predicted third place finish in the pursuit of the championship title. No doubt, this team will play its season to loud strains of young and old singing the MSU Fight Song:

Stand up and cheer
Cheer long and loud for dear Montana
For today we raise
The blue and gold to wave victorious
Our sturdy band now is fighting
And we are sure to win the fray
We’ve got the vim, We’re here to win
For this is dear Montana’s day!

On the state’s western border, University of Montana Griz fans in Missoula are just as passionate about their home team. With the support of their mascot “Monte,” the competitive Griz have either won or shared seven straight Big Sky Conference championships since 1993 with team victories in 1995 and 2001. In 2004, the rock-solid players advanced to the Division I-AA playoffs for the 12th season in a row, and they’re expected to make a similar showing during the 2005 season. Conference coaches and the sports media all predict an impressive second place finish in the chase for the 2005 league championship.

So what do you get when you pit these two teams against each other? Nothing less than one of the most spirited football rivalries in the Rocky Mountain West. Loyal fans drive hours just to catch the action, and the Bobcat-Griz battle is a sold-out favorite long before the teams hit the turf for their season openers. This year, the teams match up in Bozeman for their 105th meeting on November 19th, and those who can’t make it to the game in person will be glued to their TVs for the live televised performance.

Although season tickets for the teams’ scheduled games have now sold out, a handful of single tickets are still available for each home game. But they won’t last long. After all, nothing in Missoula or Bozeman signals the arrival of fall better than hard-core football action under the beautiful Big Sky.

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