There’s one characteristic unique to Montana State’s ascendancy these past four years: The Bobcats are quick to snap back to life.
Since 2010, MSU is 7-0 in games following a loss. The Cats haven’t lost two games in a row since October of 2008. They’ve dropped two straight just three times in coach Rob Ash’s seven seasons.
It’s a trend germane to the Bobcats current situation. MSU (7-3, 5-1 Big Sky) is coming off a deflating 54-29 loss at Eastern Washington last week and in search of a bounce-back victory against Southern Utah (7-3, 4-2) on Saturday in Bozeman.
“I feel really good about where we are this week,” Ash said. “We always bounce back really, really well after a loss.
“We haven’t been used to losing a whole lot in the last two or three seasons. We have great resiliency and we respond to tough situations. I think it is something we believe in. I think it will help us.”
The Bobcats are 2-0 this season in games after losses. They beat Colorado Mesa 26-0 on Sept. 14, the week after a 31-30 defeat at Southern Methodist. And they pummeled North Dakota 63-20 on Sept. 28, seven days following a 52-38 loss at Stephen F. Austin.
Against Southern Utah, MSU faces a team that’s flown under the radar but, like the Bobcats, remains in playoff contention.
Both teams are 7-3 with six Division I victories. Playoff eligibility begins with seven D-I wins.
This is not a throwaway game with archrival Montana looming on Nov. 23.
“We have no cushion to drop a game and still be in good shape,” Ash said. “We’re treating it as a must-win, and we know they’ll play extremely well because they’re in the same situation.
“They’re a legit playoff contender, and we are too. That makes it a huge game.”
Ash also talked about the Bobcats’ attempt to refocus after surrendering 591 yards and eight touchdowns to Eastern Washington.
“If you told me we would score 29 points against Eastern Washington, I would have probably told you that’s not enough,” Ash said. “They scored so fast and so often, and it mentally just wore us down.
“The biggest thing we’ve got to do now is just get back to work and get our defensive confidence back. I think our defense does a lot of good things. We have to go out and start proving that again.”