ANALYSIS: Montana State 101

TWO BCS TEAMS, Mississippi and Kansas, fell to lower-division schools on opening weekend, and another five, count 'em five, came within a touchdown of being upset. Amidst this backdrop, FCS No. 24 ranked Montana State comes to town to face an angry Washington State squad.

Montana State is hopeful they are marching into Martin Stadium at a very opportune moment. They are hungry for a once-in-a-lifetime win over a BCS foe and coach Rob Ash has them believing they can pull it off.

Cougars (0-1) vs Bobcats (1-0)
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
4:00 pm Pacific Time

WHERE:
Martin Stadium (37,200)

TELEVISION:
FSN Distribution, check your local listings

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
None

LAST MEETING:
WSU won in Pullman in 2008, 45-28.

THE SERIES:
WSU Leads 6-0.

CF.C PREDICTION:
Cougars 38, Bobcats 17

THE BOBCATS ON OFFENSE

Players to Know
Denarius McGhee, QB: MSU is giddy about their freshman quarterback. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 178 yards and two scores in what looked like skelly practice against Fort Lewis. At 6-0, 197 he is a little on the small side but has played on a lot of big stages in Texas. He is backed up by Oregon transfer Cody Kempt, a strong-armed senior.
Cody Kirk/CJ Palmer, RBs: Kirk is the lightning, Palmer is the thunder in this duo. Neither is a gamebreaker, but they're used to seeing good holes behind a veteran offensive line.
Mike Person, LT: Team captain, he is coach Jason McEndoo's fourth FCS All-American in six seasons as line coach.

Overview
The heart and soul of the MSU offense is their offensive line. They are big, experienced and well coached by former WSU All-American Jason McEndoo. Four starters return off last year's squad which was second in the Big Sky in rushing and sacks surrendered. MSU will lineup in a three-wide receiver formation, but will likely run more than pass.

Strategy
Montana State will try and run the ball right over the WSU defense and if they watched the OSU tape, they probably think they can do it. If the Cougs bow up and don't leave gaps, McGhee will then look to his multiple receiving targets.

THE BOBCATS ON DEFENSE

Players to Know
Dan Ogden, DT: Owns 20.5 career TFLs and 10 sacks.

Overview
Montana State prides itself on defense. They currently have a string of eight consecutive winning seasons going, five of which they led the Big Sky in total defense. The Bobcats run a fairly vanilla 4-3 scheme but are very well coached and consistent.

Strategy
Coach Rob Ash believes in sacrificing size for speed, and that should favor WSU's run blocking. The Bobcat secondary is experienced and their pass rushers have been very good.

THE BOBCATS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Jason Cunningham is a solid kicker. Rory Perez averaged 40.7 yards in his punting debut last week.

FINAL THOUGHTS
-Coach Rob Ash has three winning seasons in his three years at MSU, improving his record each time. He was a mainstay at Drake for 18 years before that and is college football's 24th winningest active coach. - WSU needs to get fundamentally better at the line of scrimmage and has the opportunity to do that this weekend. -MSU is coming off a lopsided win and WSU a lopsided loss. But such an arrangement could work against the Bobcats. They can hardly expect to catch the Cougs napping at this stage, and both teams could be in for a culture shock at the difference in physical talent from their previous opponent.


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