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Southern Utah football: T-Birds’ playoff hopes on line at MSU

College football » SUU needs wins over Montana State, Northern Arizona in final two games

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Nov 15 2013 11:40 am • Last Updated Nov 15 2013 11:32 pm

Bozeman, Mont. • Southern Utah takes its quest for a Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth to Montana State on Saturday afternoon.

The Thunderbirds, 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Big Sky Conference, will likely receive an at-large postseason bid with wins over Montana State and Northern Arizona in their final two games.

At a glance

Southern Utah at Montana State

At Bobcat Stadium, Bozeman, Mont.

Kickoff » Saturday, 4 p.m.

TV » none

Radio » 91.1 FM

Records » Southern Utah (7-3, 4-2), Montana State (7-3, 5-1)

Series » Montana State, 3-0

Last meeting » Montana State, 24-17 (2012)

About the Thunderbirds » They are 4-2 on the road, losing only to Washington State (48-10) and Eastern Washington (34-10). ... They come off a 27-21 victory at Weber State. ... Senior CB LeShaun Sims is the Big Sky Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week after an interception and fumble recovery in the second half against the Wildcats.

About the Bobcats » They are ranked 10th nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision. ... They’ve lost to SMU (31-30), Stephen F. Austin (52-38) and Eastern Washington (54-29). ... They average 447 yards and 36.7 points per game. ... QB DeNarius McGhee has accounted for 11 touchdowns — eight passing and three rushing.

ONLINE NOW » Southern Utah takes its quest for a Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth to Montana State on Saturday afternoon. > sltrib.com/sports

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Beating the Bobcats won’t be easy, however.

Despite last weekend’s 54-29 loss to third-ranked Eastern Washington, Montana State is also 7-3 this season with games remaining against SUU and arch-rival Montana.

If the 10th-ranked Bobcats beat the Thunderbirds and the Grizzlies, they will likely move ahead of both in consideration for a playoff berth.

"Montana State will be a huge challenge," Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb said. "They are very physical, especially the way their run the football."

Lamb attributed Eastern Washington’s easy win over the Bobcats to its ability to strike quickly with big plays.

"... To drive the ball the length of the field on Montana State is going to be very difficult," he said.

If Lamb knows who will start at quarterback for Southern Utah, he hasn’t said.

Junior college transfer Aaron Cantu started the first eight games, before freshman Mike Sharp took over. But in last week’s 27-21 victory at Weber State, Cantu played well after Sharp was injured early in the second half.

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"We’ve got some decisions to make," Lamb said after the Weber win. "We have two guys who are excellent leaders and it’s really difficult right now who’s going to be the guy. But right now, I’m glad we have two guys that are both competing."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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