The Bobcats are on the road once again but this game has a little more meaning than the last as Saturday's game marks the beginning of Big Sky conference play.

"It's exciting to start conference play," said MSU head coach Rob Ash. "Everybody has a clean slate. Its 0 and 0 for everyone right now in the conference race. That's important for us given the fact we've dropped a couple games. Those don't hurt us in the conference so we've got a chance to start over."

One big benefit of conference play is familiarity as these are the teams the Bobcats play on a consistent basis, meaning they know exactly what each team can bring on the field.

"It's what you prepare for all summer, knowing that you're going against teams that you play every year," said MSU junior linebacker Cole Moore. "You want to succeed against those teams. It definitely creates a sense of urgency going against Big Sky opponents."

MSU also benefits off the field as unlike some of their opponents this season, the Bobcats have lots of film to work with.

"I've watched all the North Dakota games so far," said Ash. "I'm trying to learn from the aggregate of all three of those games. I watched Valparaiso, I watched South Dakota State and I watched Montana. I watched offense, defense  and the kicking game. I'm compiling all those thoughts into helping the coordinators of all three of those areas get the game plan together."

And as for what they saw on the film.

"I've seen a team that's really combative. They're physically aggressive, a tough, hard nosed team. They destroyed Valparaiso. They came back and played a great game against a playoff team in South Dakota State and then they got behind early against Montana and that kind of took them out of their game plan."

"North Dakota, they're a good squad," said MSU senior running back Cody Kirk.
"They're a run stopping defense and that's what they're trying to do. They're gonna come out and give us their best shot."

The Bobcats feel this is a must win game as they know every Big Sky conference game counts if they want to make the playoffs.

"We're 2-2 right now," Kirk said. "We gotta go and get wins if we want to get into the playoffs. But it's one week at a time and North Dakota is our primary focus this week."