It's been more than 120 years since Montana and Montana State first battled on the gridiron. The Montana and Montana State football rivalry, known as "The Brawl of the Wild," is the fourth-oldest rivalry in the FCS. The Grizzlies and Bobcats play annually for Treasure State bragging rights, with the winner receiving The Great Divide Trophy.
When Montana and Montana State met in 2022, it marked The Brawl of the Wild's 121st all-time meeting. Montana State crushed Montana State 55-21 with ESPN's College GameDay in attendance. The Grizzlies hold a 74-42-5 head-to-head edge in the all-time series.
However, there's more to this rivalry than wins and losses, with immense history throughout the series. These are just a few notable happenings in football history that put The Brawl of the Wild in perspective:
- 1897: William McKinley was sworn in as the 25th U.S. president in 1897, the first year of Montana vs. Montana State football.
- 1906: The forward pass is legalized in football
- 1913: All-time college football head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant is born
- 1920: The Akron Pros won the first NFL championship
- 1967: The Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl
Here are six moments chronicling Montana and Montana State’s decorated pasts.
1968 — The Paul Schafer Game
In the fourth quarter, Montana State trailed Montana 24-9. Yet, a Montana State rally saw the Bobcats score 20 points in the final nine minutes, capped off by running back Paul Schafer’s end zone carry with 12 seconds to play. That touchdown highlighted a remarkable day for Schafer; he was a workhorse with 58 carries for 234 yards.
Montana almost made a comeback of its own when wide receiver Ron Baines broke free before Bobcat defender Terry Brown tripped him up inside Montana State’s 20-yard line as time expired.
1986 — The Streak begins
1986 marked the first game in the rivalry in the new Washington-Grizzly Stadium. It also marked the first game against Montana State for Grizzlies coach Don Read. In a game of firsts, Montana dominated putting up 59 points in the win. This win started what's known as “The Streak”, where the Grizzlies won consecutive games over a period that spanned across three decades.
1997 — Heartbreak in 22 seconds
By 1997, The Streak had reached 11 games. Montana State fought its hardest to keep its losing streak from reaching 12, but a series of unfortunate mistakes cost the Bobcats the game.
The first mistake came at the end of the first half. The Bobcats had too many men on the field as the first half reached its end, giving Montana one extra play. That penalty proved to be costly as Montana quarterback Brian Ah Yat tossed a touchdown pass to end the half with the Grizzlies up 21-7.
Despite that mistake, Montana State fought back to take the lead 25-24 thanks to a three-yard touchdown run from Eric Kinnamon with 22 seconds to go.
Then came mistake No. 2. On the ensuing kickoff, the kick went out of bounds and Montana had great field position.
Ah Yat then found Justin Olson on a 46-yard strike at the Montana State 19-yard line with eight seconds to go. That pass set up Kris Heppner’s game-winning 38-yard field goal as time expired for Montana's 12th straight win.
2002 — The Streak ends
Montana State’s losing streak to Montana ended at 16 games in 2002. Led by a true freshman quarterback, Travis Lulay, the ‘Cats took the lead and never looked back in the third quarter when Lulay found Junior Adams for a 53-yard touchdown. With great defense — Montana State held Montana quarterback John Edwards to just 106 passing yards and a 25 percent completion percentage — Montana State ended The Streak with a 10-7 win.
2011 — Down goes No. 1
In the 2011 edition of The Brawl of the Wild, Montana State entered as the No. 1 team in the nation with the top-ranked offense. Rankings aside, the Grizzlies stunned their rival 36-10, holding the high-powered Bobcat offense to just 250 total yards.
2018 — The Miracle in Missoula
Montana State pulled off the largest comeback in series history in 2018, rallying from down 22-0 in 2018. The Bobcats rally to take a 29-25 lead with 14 seconds to play. Yet, Montana had the ball inside the one-yard line on third-and-goal. What happened next is known as The Miracle in Missoula.
Watch the play below
1,823 Days / The Miracle in Missoula happened 2 years ago today. pic.twitter.com/N83h1GFlj9— DaysSinceUMbeatMSUinFootball (@DaysSinceUMwon) November 17, 2020
Montana’s State goal-line stand clinched a three-game win streak for the Bobcats and an FCS playoff berth.
2022 — College GameDay comes to town
For the first time in Brawl of the Wild history, ESPN's College GameDay was in attendance at 2022's game hosted by Montana State. On the field, the Bobcats blasted Montana, winning 55-21.
This drone shot of the headgear pick from Montana State is AMAZING 😍 pic.twitter.com/vOKaCS084U— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 19, 2022
Montana vs. Montana State: Scores, all-time series
|1899||Montana State||5–0||Missoula, MT|
|1899||Montana State||38–0||Missoula, MT|
|1900||Montana State||38–0||Missoula, MT|
|1901||Montana State||31–0||Missoula, MT|
|1902||Montana State||38–0||Missoula, MT|
|1903||Montana State||13–6||Missoula, MT|
|1908||Montana State||5–0||Bozeman, MT|
|1929||Montana State||14–12||Butte, MT|
|1932||Montana State||10–7||Butte, MT|
|1947||Montana State||13–12||Butte, MT|
|1956||Montana State||33–14||Missoula, MT|
|1957||Montana State||22–13||Bozeman, MT|
|1958||Montana State||20–6||Missoula, MT|
|1959||Montana State||40–6||Bozeman, MT|
|1961||Montana State||10–9||Bozeman, MT|
|1963||Montana State||18–3||Bozeman, MT|
|1964||Montana State||30–6||Missoula, MT|
|1965||Montana State||24–7||Bozeman, MT|
|1966||Montana State||38–0||Missoula, MT|
|1967||Montana State||14–8||Bozeman, MT|
|1968||Montana State||29–24||Missoula, MT|
|1972||Montana State||21–3||Missoula, MT|
|1973||Montana State||33–7||Bozeman, MT|
|1974||Montana State||43–29||Missoula, MT|
|1975||Montana State||20–3||Bozeman, MT|
|1976||Montana State||21–12||Missoula, MT|
|1977||Montana State||24–19||Bozeman, MT|
|1979||Montana State||38–21||Bozeman, MT|
|1980||Montana State||24–7||Missoula, MT|
|1983||Montana State||28–8||Bozeman, MT|
|1984||Montana State||34–24||Missoula, MT|
|1985||Montana State||41–18||Bozeman, MT|
|2002||Montana State||10–7||Missoula, MT|
|2003||Montana State||27–20||Bozeman, MT|
|2005||Montana State||16–6||Bozeman, MT|
|2010||Montana State||21–16||Missoula, MT|
|2012||Montana State||16–7||Missoula, MT|
|2016||Montana State||24–17||Missoula, MT|
|2017||Montana State||31–23||Bozeman, MT|
|2018||Montana State||29–25||Missoula, MT|
|2019||Montana State||48–14||Bozeman, MT|
|2022||Montana State||55-21||Bozeman, MT|