Montana State Football – Montana State has it, but there’s football competition for the No. 1 ranking in the FCS Top 25.
With one week remaining in the regular season, the upcoming Football Championship Subdivision playoffs will provide the definitive answer about which team is the nation’s best.
On Monday, the poll’s national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries installed Montana State at No. 1 for the first time in program history.
The Bobcats (9-1) were idle this past weekend while then-No. 1 North Dakota State lost for the first time. The Big Sky Conference leader collected 76 of the 156 first-place votes and 3,805 points to edge Sam Houston State for the top spot in the rankings.
The Bobcats program knows plenty about the pursuit of the national title, having won it in 1984, six years before the poll began.
But there’s little time for Montana State to soak in being No. 1. On Saturday, it will host rival Montana in Bozeman, with the winner earning the Big Sky’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. The loser is expected to be in the 20-team field as an at-large selection.
“This is a tremendous honor for the Montana State football program, our loyal and passionate fans, and our incredibly supportive administration,” said Bobcats head coach Rob Ash, whose team will earn an outright Big Sky title by winning Saturday or will be the co-champion with Montana if it loses to the Grizzlies.
“But this ranking has only happened because our group of players and coaches made a promise almost a year ago to try to be the best in the nation, and everyone in this program has worked diligently, for literally months, to reach that goal.
“We know the tournament will eventually settle the issue on the field, but we are thrilled and excited to be recognized right now, this week, as the No. 1 team in the country.
Montana State is the fourth different team to ranked be No. 1 this season, and plenty of voters are supporting Sam Houston State (10-0), the only unbeaten team in the FCS. The Southland Conference champions received 71 first-place votes and 3,764 points.