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College GameDay coming to Bozeman as ‘Cats host Griz for 121st rivalry showdown

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Last fall, celebrities with Missoula & University of Montana ties and Big Sky Conference dignitaries alike swooned, solicited and downright begged College GameDay to come to the Garden City for round No. 120 of the Treasure State’s favorite football game.

Instead, ESPN’s popular Saturday morning analysis and picks program chose to go to Ohio State.

The College GameDay promos that run constantly on the world’s most popular sports network are accompanied by the Big & Rich song “Comin’ to your city”.

In a few social media videos produced by the Big Sky Conference office, league administrators hummed and sung the song, hoping the big boys would pick to the Garden City. A Montana state senator even tried to draft a bill to legislate College GameDay to Missoula.

Sophomore quarterback Tommy Mellott looks for yards against Weber State. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ

Bozeman, Montana, home to the Montana Grizzlies’ rival Montana State Bobcats, does not have a nickname like its contemporary Treasure State “cities”. Missoula is the the Garden City, Billings is the Magic City, Butte is the Mining City, Great Falls is the Electric City and so on.

That might have changed on Sunday morning, November 13 of 2022. College GameDay’s twitter account announced at 9 a.m. that college football’s most famous pre-game show will descend upon “The Big Sky City”.

Montana State’s football team is in the midst of a fourth straight playoff run. The Bobcats played in the final four of the FCS playoffs in 2019 and played for the national title last season. MSU is 7-0 in league play, 9-1 overall and ranked No. 3 in the country entering the 121st showdown with rival Montana on Saturday.

The Griz are 4-3 in Big Sky play, 7-3 overall after a pair of dominant wins that followed a three-game October losing streak by the preseason league favorites.

Bozeman and Gallatin County have grown immensely in the last 10 years. From the picturesque scenery to the blue ribbon rivers to the world-class skiing, southwest Montana’s boom town has exploded to rival Missoula as Montana’s second-largest behind Billings. The Montana State campus has seen growth that’s helped the student population nearly double over the last 10 or so years.

One source close to the decision confirmed the primary factors in ESPN’s choice of Bozeman included schedule, airport accessibility, Montana State’s unique game day atmosphere highlighted by its rodeo team run out, and the quality of this year’s Bobcat squad.

Coming of a 12-3 campaign that included three playoff wins in Brent Vigen’s first season, the Bobcats have continued rolling. Vigen is 21-2 against FCS opponents and 14-1 against the rest of the Big Sky. Montana State’s lose FCS losses came last year in Missoula, 29-10 to the Griz, and 38-10 to North Dakota State in Frisco, Texas.

Now the city and the campus get another boost of publicity. And perhaps the old cowboy town finally has a nickname like its Montana contemporaries. At least for this week, the center of the Big Sky Conference and FCS universe will reside in and around Bobcat Stadium.

The College GameDay national broadcast will begin at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday. The crew will be in town for the next week and will have live hits from campus on Friday as well.

The 121st battle between Montana and Montana State commences at high noon on Saturday from Bobcat Stadium.

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