Brawl of the Wild
With the 113th Brawl of the Wild going down in Bozeman this Saturday I wanted to share my thoughts on the rivalry.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a Montana alum and cover the Griz on a daily basis.
Now that we have that out of the way let's get things going by talking about what makes the rivalry fun. I love how it is a matchup of the top two sporting teams in the entire state. The absence of pro teams in Montana give the rivalry another added dimension that not many states have. Coming from southern California I have really grown to appreciate the fact that in the state of Montana you are either a Cat or a Griz fan and it truly is a state divided. Nearly every family in Montana has some sort of ties to either Montana or Montana State and it makes for some great trash talking within families and between friends throughout the year. But there is nothing better than the smack talk the week before the big game. Memes are made all over and shared on Facebook and various social media outlets and arguments follow. But most of the trash talk is fun and good natured which leads me to this…
I would describe the rivalry as a great one but it's not an intense one. I know there are fans on both sides that DESPISE the Teddy Bears or the Kitty Cats but the majority of fans from either side don't hate/despise the other team. If you disagree with me let me give you this example. Last year when the Griz didn't make the playoffs I asked every fan I ran into if they would root for Montana State to go deep in the FCS playoffs. While 25% said absolutely not, I was surprised by the estimated 75% that said yes, but the reason why they said yes is what I love about Montana. They said they would root for the Cats because they were representing the state of Montana as a whole, and if MSU would win so would the entire state. Montanans have a pride about being from the Treasure State and I think that pride trumps the hate they have for either the Cats or the Griz. The week of the Brawl of the Wild splits Montanans in two, and at the same time brings them together, that is what makes it one of the better rivalries in college sports.
There is another thing about the rivalry that I have noticed, the fact that there is a Big Brother-Little Brother dynamic. With the sustained success Montana has had throughout the history of the program and the lopsided record against MSU 69-37-5, I feel the Cats have certainly developed a little brother complex. Although it certainly has changed in the last few years, the overall mindset of a Griz fan is they expect to beat the Cats, and that mindset is not reciprocal. I LOVE the fact that Montana State has seen success as of late. A rivalry is only as good as both teams are and with each squad being in the top 15 in the country, playoff seeding and berths on the line, it should be a great battle on Saturday.
So here's to the 113th meeting and hopefully we all get to watch an entertaining and well-played game! (because the 112th was ugly regardless of who you were rooting for).