FRISCO, Texas— The wait is nearly over for Bobcat fans. On Saturday, the Montana State football team will face North Dakota State for an FCS national championship.
It’s the Cats’ first appearance in the title game since 1984. All week long we’ve heard from Montana State legends weighing in on this year’s team and players in a series we’ve called Cats on Cats.
We asked them to make their predictions about Saturday’s game. Unsurprisingly, all of them picked the Cats to win (with the exception of two who declined to make a prediction). But they all gave their reasons, and detailed how they expect the game to play out.
Credentials: Played WR at MSU from 2010-2013. Holds the career record for receiving yards with 2,816 and receptions with 193. His eight 100 yard receiving games is also tied for first all time. Great Falls CMR product was a four time Academic All-Big Sky selection.
Bleskin’s prediction: "I'm not gonna bet against the cats. I think we'll have our hands full. I think North Dakota State is great. And I also think know when to peak. But I think for me is I'm gonna take the Cats 21-17”
Credentials: Played LB at MSU from 2011-2014. Played for the Calgary Stampeders from 2016-2019, named the CFL’s most outstanding defensive player in 2017. Signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019. Led the team with 120 tackles in 2020, and currently has 130 tackles in 2021.
Singleton’s prediction: “South Dakota State beat North Dakota State, we beat South Dakota State. So obviously, I'm thinking it’s got to be like a 14, 17 point win. I see them scoring points, maybe like a 31-17 or 31-14 taking it late though. They’re obviously going to keep it competitive I’m sure.”
Credentials: Played linebacker and defensive end at Montana State from 2006-2009. Earned 1st-Team All-Big Sky honors and was named Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2009. Was also a Buck Buchanan award finalist. The Bozeman native was signed by the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and played five seasons in the NFL between the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Played in Super Bowl XLVI with the Patriots. After leaving the league, Fletcher started a training gym in Bozeman called “The Pitt” where he has worked to train several current, former and future MSU players.
Fletcher’s Prediction: “It depends on who can run the rock, and establish that first. I could see it easily being a 23-17 game. Obviously we know who’s got 23.”
Credentials: Played QB at MSU from 2002-2005. Re-wrote the record books with school records for career passing yards (10,746) and total offense in a career. He also led Montana State to three wins over Montana, including a 10-7 win in 2002 which snapped a 16 game losing streak to the Griz. Went on to play nine seasons for the BC Lions of the CFL, where he was named the Most Outstanding Player in 2011 and Grey Cup MVP that same season.
Lulay’s predictions: “Lost to North Dakota State IN the quarters and lost TO North Dakota State and the semis in Fargo. And so now here we are in the championship game, just one game further on. I think they're built to do it, obviously don’t take anything for granted to Tyler's point at their game. Maybe you beat 'em 17-13 doesn't matter, have one more point than them at the end of the day. So, yeah, I'm gonna say, because I respect North Dakota State's program Cats by one score”
Credentials: Played running back for Montana State from 1998-2002. Holds the career record for rushing yards at MSU with 3,646, and was on the 2002 team that snapped a 17-game losing streak to the University of Montana. His single season record of 1,537 rushing yards stood for 20 years until Isaiah Ifanse broke it during the 2021 season. Johnson was also named the 2001 Academic All-America Player of the Year in 2001.
Johnson’s prediction: “I think we're much more of an even matchup than we have been in years past. And we have so many seniors and veteran leadership and obviously coach Vigen having coached at North Dakota State knows a lot about that program. And so he's gonna bring some unique insights into the game planning and game prep for. And so I think we have a really good shot at winning. I think we're gonna win. I think we're gonna win like 24 to 21.”
Credentials: Played QB at MSU from 2010-13. He was a two-time Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and a first team All-American in 2012. McGhee holds the all-time career records for passing yards with 11,203 and passing touchdowns with 79. His .640 completion percentage is also tops all time at MSU. After starting his coaching career at Montana State from 2017-19, McGhee is currently in his second season as an offensive assistant for the Houston Texans.
McGhee’s prediction: “I do not do that. We’ll see. North Dakota State, they've always been a solid program. They play solid defense. I mean, they've had a few first round draft picks at the quarterback position in the last, like five years so they will be prepared. But I think coach Vigen will have the Bobcats prepared as well. And it will be a good matchup.”
Credentials: Played OT at MSU from 2006-2010. All-Big Sky selection. Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 7th round of the 2011 NFL draft. Played nine seasons with six teams in the NFL, including 48 starts in 73 career games. Helped the 49ers reach Super Bowl LIV in 2019.
Person’s prediction: “It'll be a tight game. I'm not big on score predictions. That's the old player in me. That's nothing but bad news. But they're a good outfit. Obviously they're a modern day dynasty and FCS football and we'll have our hands full, but you know, no sense in chalking us off before the game even starts.”