The official countdown for 2015 is underway. Today marks 100 days until NDSU-Montana begin the new season in Missoula on ESPN in what will be the first college football game of the year.
The storylines around this game are probably too many to mention, it’s why I named it as the top game to watch in 2015. This will mark NDSU’s first game back to Washington-Grizzly Stadium since the “Miracle In Missoula” in 2003. I’m not sure if we’re going to have the same theatrics in late August, but the emotion in this one will be off the charts.
QUARTERBACK – This may be the only matchup this year with quarterbacks 6’6 or taller. Carson Wentz starts his second season against one of the few guys taller than him, Cole Gustafson (6’7). Gustafson has the tough task of replacing one of the Griz’s best at the position in Jordan Johnson. Gustafson can move better than you would think for a man his size (not like Wentz, but not bad). Wentz will have his work cut out for him as the Bison offense will have to go against 23,000 fans screaming in what Montana calls the loudest stadium in FCS. (I’m sure Bison fans have immediately taken offense to that) Curious to see how the signal caller handles that in that kind of environment.
DEFENSE – Each team has to replace some great players on defense. We’ve listed who NDSU has to replace, I think we’ll find out how good NDSU linebackers are in this game, especially Pierre Gee-Tucker and MJ Stumpf in their first shot in primetime (More on this in Monday’s position preview). Montana has three all-conference players to replace from Zach Wagenmann at defensive end to Matt Hermanson at safety. Some signs point this to be a high-scoring game.
OFFENSE – Leading to this point. Each team has some tremendous offensive players, Ellis Henderson returns for the Griz at wide receiver, he missed most of last season with an illness, but he did play against NDSU, racking up four catches for 52 yards, including a 38 yarder that set up a Montana field goal right before the break (VIDEO BELOW).
NDSU’s offensive weapons are known, I’m curious to see how Lance Dunn performs in his collegiate game against a Griz defense that’s still getting its feet wet. Bob Stitt is known for his unique offensive schemes, which makes him going up against Klieman and Entz a tremendous matchup.
Everything about this game jumps off the page to me. Can’t wait to see it happen. There’s only 100 days to go.