BOZEMAN — DeNarius McGhee threw for 387 yards and Montana State scored on six of its first eight possessions en route to a 41-16 victory over Northern Colorado in the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams Saturday.
The Bobcats (4-0) went ahead 21-0 in the first quarter behind touchdown runs of 14 and 2 yards by Cody Kirk. Northern Colorado (1-3) cut the lead to 21-10, but Montana State answered with a 7-yard touchdown run by McGhee and a 45-yard field goal by Rory Perez.
"We always want convincing wins," McGhee said. "They send out a message to the rest of the nation and the conference."
McGhee connected on 34 of 44 passes, including touchdowns of 9 yards to Tray Robinson and 49 to John Ellis. Kirk added 89 yards rushing on 19 carries and Tanner Bleskin had 10 receptions for 116 yards.
The Montana State defense got a lift with the return of tackle Brian Bignell and end Brad Daly. Bignell had two of the Bobcats' four sacks — both in the first half — in his first action of the season.
"As fun as sitting on the bench can be, it was fun to get out there and run around a little bit," Bignell joked. "Seriously, we just wanted to start fast."
Montana State scored touchdowns on each of its first three possessions while forcing the Bears into three-and-outs on their first three opportunities.
The Bobcats finished with 564 yards while holding Northern Colorado to just 266. Montana State held the ball for 40:41 and made good on 9 of 15 third-down conversions.
The Bears, who have lost 14 of their last 15 games, managed just 52 yards rushing.