Texas Tech football: What Red Raider fans need to know about Montana State

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(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Texas Tech football team is set to take on Montana State and here is what Red Raider fans need to know about the Bobcats.

It has been 275 days since we last saw a Texas Tech football game.  And who wants to remember that farcical performance anyway?  Fortunately, in just five days, we will finally have the opportunity to cleanse our pallet of the aftertaste of the failed Kliff Kingsbury experiment and begin focusing on the Matt Wells era.

Unlike last year when Tech opened the season with a loss to Ole Miss in Houston, the 2019 schedule should be far more docile off the bat.  That’s because, instead of jumping into the deep end of the pool immediately, the Red Raiders will have games against Montana State and UTEP that should give the new coaching staff and its team an opportunity to shake the rust off and fine-tune their attack before the stakes are ramped up with a week-3 trip to Arizona.

This weekend will mark the sixth time in the last eight seasons that Tech has opened with an FCS team when Montana State comes calling.  The only seasons since 2012 in which Tech has begun the regular season with a game against an FBS team are last year and 2013 when the Red Raiders took on SMU in Dallas in Kingsbury’s first game as head coach.

Montana State is one of the more highly-regarded programs at the next level of college football.  Playing the game since 1896, they claim three national titles (1956, 1976, 1984).  Overall, the program has a record of 491–482–32.

Last season, 3rd-year head coach Jeff Choate guided his team to an 8-5 record and a No. 23 overall national ranking to end the season.  Finishing in 4th place in the Big Sky Conference (arguably the FCS version of the SEC), the Bobcats were one of four ranked teams in their league at the end of the season.

In the first round of the 2018 FCS playoffs, Montana State beat Incarnate Word, which is coached by former Red Raider offensive coordinator Eric Morris.  A week later, the Bobcats were eliminated by North Dakota State, the eventual national champion which was coached by new Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman.

Despite having high expectations within the program, MSU was only picked to finish as high as 4th in the Big Sky, four places higher than they were projected to finish in 2018.   Still, five Bobcats were named to the preseason All-Big Sky team, two on offense and three on defense.

What’s more, HeroSports.com ranks the Cats No. 14 in their preseason FCS poll.  And they include three Cats (linebacker Troy Andersen, offensive lineman Mitch Brott and running back Isaiah Ifanse) on their preseason All-American team.

Saturday will be the first time in 81 years that the Red Raiders and the Bobcats will be on the field together.  In 1938, the Red Raiders opened the season with a 35-0 win over Montana State in Lubbock, the only other time these programs have met.

Obviously, quite a bit has changed since then.  Likewise, the fabric of the Texas Tech football program has undergone a huge transformation since the last time we saw a game that counts.

That’s why this game is going to be one of the most fascinating openers in program history despite the fact that it comes against an FCS team.  So to get prepared for the 95th season of Tech football, let’s get to know an opponent that has rarely been on our radar.

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