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THE BASICS

TIME, DAY, PLACE: 2 p.m. Saturday, Bobcat Stadium

TV: ESPN+

RADIO: Bobcat Radio Network, msubobcats.com

WEATHER: 56 degrees, mostly cloudy

COACHES

Montana State: Brent Vigen

RECORD: 9-2; YEAR: First

Vigen arrived at MSU after seven seasons as Wyoming’s offensive coordinator. He was an assistant in several roles, including offensive coordinator, before that at North Dakota State.

UT Martin: Jason Simpson

RECORD: 100-79; YEAR: 16th

Simpson has been a four-time finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award. He's led the Skyhawks to two Ohio Valley championships and is the longest-tenured head coach of the conference.

MONTANA STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH

22 — Isaiah Ifanse — RB

Ifanse had a season-low in rushing yards with 50 in MSU’s previous game, but he was one week removed from an injury. With a bye week, Ifanse has had more time to recover. The Bobcats will want to depend on him to get their offense back on track.

86 — Lance McCutcheon — WR

McCutcheon has been a consistent target the Bobcats can rely on. The all-Big Sky first-team selection will look to continue his success in the postseason. As the Bobcats seek to become more balanced, McCutcheon’s presence could help keep UT Martin’s defense off balance.

3 — Amandre Williams — DE

While the game didn’t result in a win, Williams thrived against Montana. He had four tackles, including a sack, and was disruptive throughout the contest. The Bobcats’ defensive front has been stout all season, so Williams will look to have another standout game in the playoffs.

UT MARTIN PLAYERS TO WATCH

23 — Peyton Logan — RB

UT Martin is eighth in the FCS with 219.4 rushing yards per game. Logan is the Skyhawks’ leader on the ground. The 5-foot-8, 190-pound senior has accumulated 1,050 yards and four touchdowns on 143 rushes. The Bobcats’ run defense has been sound all season, and they’ll need to keep that going against the Skyhawks.

21 — Zak Wallace — RB

Wallace is another rushing threat the Bobcats have must account for in order to gain control of the game. While Logan leads the Skyhawks in rushing, Wallace has been a constant scoring threat. At 6-foot, 220 pounds, the redshirt freshman has totaled 15 touchdowns and 788 yards on 142 carries.

11 — Donnell Williams — WR

With Keon Howard, a Walter Payton Award finalist and Ohio Valley offensive player of the year, out, UT Martin turned to Dresser Winn at quarterback. Williams still excelled and totaled seven receptions for 178 yards and a score. He’s caught 29 passes for 457 yards this season.

KEY FACTS

- Montana State will make its third consecutive playoff appearance Saturday.

-The Bobcats and UT Martin have never met before. This is the third straight season MSU’s playoff opener is against a first-time opponent.

- UT Martin is 18th in the FCS with 26 takeaways, while Montana State is tied for the national lead with the fewest turnovers lost.

- After qualifying for the playoffs twice previously, the Bobcats have made 10 appearances since 2002.

- Montana State leads the Big Sky in rushing offense (218.5 yards per game) while UT Martin has the Ohio Valley’s top rushing defense (128.7 yards allowed per game). MSU’s 5.2 yards per rush is 10th in the FCS, while UT Martin’s 5.49 is seventh.

- Montana’s 29 points in MSU’s regular season finale was the most by a Bobcats opponent this season. No team has totaled more than 355 total yards against MSU.

- MSU finished second in the Big Sky this season, the fourth straight time the Bobcats improved their place in the standings.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Montana State is eager to respond after its previous game. The Bobcats ended their regular season with a disappointing loss at rival Montana. Ever since, they’ve been eager to return to the field.

That should be evident in this week’s game. The Bobcats have used the bye week to recuperate and prepare for a run in the FCS playoffs. That will start with a win over UT Martin.

Pool’s pick: Montana State 33, UT Martin 20

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Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.

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