Bobcats unveil 2013 football schedule

BOZEMAN — A second straight Thursday night Gold Rush game, a Texas two-step, and a Cat-Griz home game highlight Montana State’s 2013 football schedule as released Tuesday.

The Bobcats open the 2013 regular season with FCS entry Monmouth and close it hosting Montana. In between, MSU travels to Texas for contests at Stephen F. Austin and SMU, face a home non-league game against Colorado Mesa University (formerly Mesa State), and welcome UC Davis and Southern Utah to Bozeman as Big Sky rivals for the first time.

“Playing six home games is very important to our program, and we had such positive feedback from our Thursday night game last year that we wanted to provide our fans that opportunity again,” said MSU Athletic Director Peter Fields. “A schedule with six home games and six road games gives us good balance in that regard, and we feel that making two trips to Texas is both a reward for our players from that state and an important step in terms of recruiting in that area.”

Also noteworthy is a team missing from the team’s upcoming schedule. In an effort to fill its home slate MSU opted out of its contract for a September contest at North Dakota State, a date filled by the SMU game. That tilt guarantees the Bobcats $300,000, which will be used to pay a $100,000 buyout clause to NDSU and a $200,000 guarantee to Monmouth.

“The decision not to play North Dakota State was not easy and was not made lightly,” Fields said, “but our responsibility is to the fans and season ticket holders of Montana State, and this decision was made in their best interest. It’s unfortunate.”

Monmouth enters 2013 as an FCS Independent, transitioning from the Northeast in 2012 to the Big South Conference in 2014. The Hawks and MSU have never previously met, but MSU has history with the other non-Big Sky foe coming to Bozeman. The Bobcats and Colorado Mesa have met three times previously, with the Bobcats winning in 1984 (34-14) and 1992 (43-30), but dropping a 41-10 tilt in 1988.

More than a dozen Bobcats are likely to make visits to their home state next season. The Cats have never faced SMU, presently coached by run-and-shoot guru June Jones, but that can’t be said for Stephen F. Austin. Montana State edged the Lumberjacks 43-35 in Bozeman last fall, and stand 4-1 overall against SFA, 1-1 in Nacogdoches.

Montana State’s conference campaign ends with its annual showdown against Montana on Nov. 23, and begins with a Sept. 28 contest at North Dakota. The Bobcats face Northern Arizona, UC Davis and Southern Utah at home, with trips to Weber State, Northern Colorado and the Eastern Washington team it shared the Big Sky title with in 2010 and 2012.

— MSU Sports Information

Aug. 29 — Monmouth
Sept.  7 — at SMU
Sept. 14  — Colorado Mesa
Sept. 21  — at Stephen F. Austin
Sept. 28  — *at North Dakota
Oct. 5  — *NAU
Oct. 12  — Open
Oct. 19  — *at Weber State
Oct. 26  — *UC Davis
Nov. 2  — *at Northern Colorado
Nov. 9  — *at Eastern Washington
Nov. 16  — *Southern Utah
Nov. 23  — *Montana
Game times TBA
* Big Sky Conference game