Monmouth University (0-0) at No. 2 Montana State (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky)
Thursday, August 29, 2013; 7:05 p.m. (MT)
Bobcat Stadium, Bozeman, Mont.
Radio Coverage: Shore Sports Network, WOBM 1160AM and 1310AM, shoresportsnetwork.com
Matt Harmon (Play by Play); Eddy Occhipinti (Color Analyst)
For tickets call 800-808-5940 or visit HERE for more information.
Directions to Bobcat Stadium:
For Directions to Bobcat Stadium visit HERE.
Max Media (Chris Byers, Mike Callaghan)/Altitude outside Montana
The game can be viewed for free online on the Big Sky Network
**A full game preview is available at www.GoMUHawks.com**
A look at the game:
Monmouth enters tonight’s game with Montana State looking for its first season-opening win since the 2006 season. The task won’t be easy as the Hawks face the second-ranked Bobcats, who are coming off of back to back 10-win seasons and have tied a program record for consecutive conference championships with three. Tonight’s game will be the lone night game played at home for the Bobcats, while the Hawks will play three at night over the first four weeks of the season, with a 7 p.m. start at Liberty next week and a 6 p.m. tilt with Holy Cross in week four.
The Hawks enter an exciting time as the Hawks will play an independent schedule in 2013 before transitioning to the Big South Conference in 2014. The last time MU played an independent schedule was the 1995 season, with the Hawks going 7-3, losing two of their three games by one point. The 2012 Hawks will feature a new starter at the quarterback position for the first time in four seasons with the graduation of Kyle Frazier. UMass transfer Brandon Hill takes over and is the only QB on the roster with collegiate playing experience, playing five games for the Minutemen in 2011. He has a solid supporting staff around him, with three returning starters on the offensive line, two former Jerry Rice Award Finalists in Neal Sterling and Julian Hayes and a multi-talented tight end in fifth-year senior Mike McLafferty. MU’s defense returns just five starters from a season ago but the two-deep features a wealth of young talent at a number of positions.
The Bobcats have their sites set on returning to the FCS playoffs for the fourth straight season. The MSU offense is led by Walter Payton Award candidate quarterback DeNarius McGhee who is second all-time in school history in passing yards. McGhee has led the Bobcats to 30 wins over the last three seasons and his 71 TD passes is also a school record. The defense, which was one of the top-ranked units in the nation in 2012, returns five starters. Under Ash, the Bobcats have a 3-3 record in openers but have won all three when they open at Bobcat Stadium. His three losses were against FBS opponents.
The coaching matchup:
Kevin Callahan is in his 21st season at Monmouth as the Hawks’ head coach. Callahan owns a 114-91 career coaching record, all with Monmouth. Callahan is one of 21 active head coaches in the FCS with over 100 career victories and his 114 victories ranks 15th among active FCS coaches. The only coach in Monmouth history, he has led the Blue & White to five conference championships, in 1996, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Callahan has earned NEC Coach of the Year accolades in 1998, 2003 and 2006. Prior to arriving in West Long Branch, Callahan served as defensive coordinator at Colgate for eight seasons and at Wagner for three years. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Albany (1977-79) and Syracuse (1980) before becoming a Seahawk assistant in 1981.
Montana State is led by Rob Ash, who is in his 7th season at the helm of the Bobcats and his 25th season as a college football head coach. His 226 victories rank him fourth among active FCS coaches behind Albany’s Bob Ford, Penn’s Al Bagnoli and Villanova’s Andy Talley. Since taking over the MSU program prior to the 2007 season, Ash has posted a 50-22 record. He has led the Bobcats to three consecutive Big Sky titles and back-to-back FCS playoff game wins. The 2012 Big Sky Coach of the Year has won 30 games in the past three seasons, the most over such a stretch by a Bobcats head coach. Prior to his days in Bozeman, Ash spent 18 seasons on the sidelines at Drake University, compiling a record of 125-63-2. He has not coached a team to a sub-.500 record since 2002.
Inside the MU-Montana State series:
Monmouth and Montana State have never faced each other. This will also mark the first time that the Hawks have faced an opponent from the Big Sky Conference. Monmouth has never played an opponent on the road further West than the state of Ohio. The Hawks faced Dayton on 9/13/97 in Dayton, Ohio, a 51-16 loss to the Flyers. MU faced the Jim Harbaugh led University of San Diego Toreros in the 2006 Gridiron Classic, but that game was played on Kessler Field.
Did You Know?
Montana State’s consensus No. 2 ranking is the highest ranked opponent that Monmouth has played in its 21 seasons. Last year the Hawks opened the season with a game at No. 11 Lehigh and the Hawks faced No. 12 Delaware in week four of the 2007 season.
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