Will a First Year Head Coach and Freshman QB Lead MSU to Victory?
Everywhere you go around Bozeman and most of Montana, people are talking about the big game. By big game, we're talking about the National Championship Game that takes place tomorrow down in Frisco, Texas between MSU and NDSU (just in case you were leaving under a rock)
This game has a whole lot of drama behind it.
There is certainly a history between the two schools and in fairness, North Dakota State has knocked Montana State out of the playoffs the last two appearances by the Bobcats. Throw in the fact that the Bison have been to this game regularly for the last 10 years and this one has all the makings of a real classic.
There are plots and subplots galore.
You have first-year head Coach Brent Vigen who has taken over the Bobcat program. He posted the best first year by any football coach in Bobcat history, including coaching them to a game they haven't appeared in for 37 years. Throw in the fact that he grew up in the small town of Buxton, North Dakota, attended and played for NDSU, then became a coach and helped build them into the dynasty that they are today.
Then there is the story of "Touchdown Tommy". Where do we even start?
Tommy Mellott, a proud product of Butte and a true freshman that made his first start at quarterback in the FCS Playoffs. Many thought that moment would be too big for Mellot, I mean, after all, he's a freshman and it was the playoffs. However, Mellott rose to the occasion and won at home against UT-Martin after a first-round bye.
Of course, the next game was huge. The quarterfinals. Montana State at Sam Houston? Sam Houston had never lost a playoff game at home. Throw in the fact that they were the number one seed and the defending National Champions.
Surely the Bobcats and the young QB would struggle, right? Not a chance.
MSU took care of business and Mellott introduced himself to the FCS in a huge way. So much so that the Head Coach of Sam Houston State said, and I quote “He became a full grown-ass man against us this week”. The Bobcats would defeat the defending champions with a final score of 42 to 19.
Next up, SDSU at Bobcat Stadium in the Semi-Finals. Keep in mind, the only loss that NDSU had this year came compliments of the Jackrabbits. It was a hard-fought battle between South Dakota State and the Bobcats, especially in the first half, but in the end, the Jackrabbits had no answer for Mellott or the Bobcat defense and the Cats won 31 to 17. The legend of "Touchdown Tommy" grew even bigger when you look at the numbers he put up against the Jackrabbits.
Mellott threw for 233 yards and rushed for 155 with a total of 4 touchdowns.
This brings us to tomorrow. The National Championship Game. You have the Bobcats looking to not only win their first Championship in 37 years but also establish themselves as a powerhouse in the FCS. Over in North Dakota, there are rumors that the Bison will soon be moving up and joining the FBS.
Could this be their last FCS Championship game? Will they win their 9th Title?
Or will "Touchdown Tommy" and the dynamic offense along with a tough-as-nails defense of Montana State put an end to the NDSU dynasty? No matter how you look at it, this should be one for the ages.