Montana State makes change to 2024 football schedule

By Kevin Kelley -

The Montana State Bobcats have made a late change to their 2024 football schedule, the school announced on Wednesday.

Montana State was previously scheduled to host the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks on Sept. 14, 2024 at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Mont., before returning the game on Sept. 13, 2025 in Nacogdoches, Texas. Both contests have been canceled due to Stephen F. Austin returning to the Southland Conference.

As a replacement game this season, Montana State will now host the Mercyhurst Lakers at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman on Saturday, Sept. 21 , 2024. The game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools on the gridiron.

“On Friday, May 24, I received notification from Stephen F. Austin State University Athletic Director Michael McBroom that SFASU would be cancelling the football series with MSU, including a home game this year (Sept. 14) and the road game in 2025 (Sept. 13),” Montana State Director of Athletics Leon Costello said. “This development is disappointing and disturbing given the 2024 Bobcat Football season kicks off in less than three months.”

Mercyhurst, currently a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) in Division II, will move up to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and will officially become a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC) effective July 1, 2024.

“Since receiving this notification, my priority has been to replace the game for this year, knowing the options were extremely limited given the timing,” Costello continued. “Fortunately, we were able to sign a contract with Mercyhurst University, an FCS school from the Northeast Conference, for a game on Sept. 21, 2024. I understand the effects of this change are wide-ranging and not ideal for our fans who have already made plans to attend a home game on a different date. However, adding this game gives us the opportunity to maintain a six-game home schedule with a full 12-game schedule for the 2024 season. That is important for many reasons, particularly FCS playoff considerations.”

Montana State is scheduled to open the 2024 season in Week Zero on Saturday, Aug. 24 on the road against the New Mexico Lobos. The Bobcats also have non-conference contests scheduled against the Utah Tech Trailblazers on the road on Aug. 31 and the Maine Black Bears at home on Sept. 7.

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Comments (9)

Good for Bozeman I guess, it is a guaranteed win over a team that wasn’t competitive at D-II and now joining the weakest conference in football. There should be a time limit though on when teams have to lock in for the next season to a conference, understanding SFA now has to set up their scheduled in the SLC, they really hurt the teams in the UAC and Bozeman by this move and that isn’t right.

On the plus side, maybe Bozeman can push Mercyhurst back to D-II, they might be competatve in the NEC, but that whole conference is a joke.

The date seems “loosely” to be June 30, the final day before the sports and academic calendar traditionally turns to the next year. Trust me, as someone who is constantly updating and compiling a schedule matrix for FCS, this is maddening. I thought the schedule was complete and finalized, like everyone else. It leaves a lot of schools from both conferences with holes and open dates. It’s not good for anyone. Montana State got lucky that someone was available. There’s a good possibly other won’t be so fortunate.

There may not be a lot of changes, only if dates conflict. The Southland is going to keep a 7-game conference schedule, which allows them to retain the previously scheduled non-conference matchups.

The UAC is down to nine teams, but that is perfect for an 8-game conference schedule. So they will stay at eight, but the question is if any non-conference games cause date conflicts.


Looking at it, the United seems like they can replace some of those match-ups.

Abilene Christian, Austin Peay and West Georgia all have everybody else scheduled. Austin Peay’s schedule should be unaffected. Abilene Christian will need to replace one game – maybe they still keep Stephen F. Austin. West Georgia has two potential games to replace.

The other teams all have one game to schedule within the conference.
Central Arkansas vs. Southern Utah
Eastern Kentucky vs. Utah Tech
North Alabama vs. Tarleton State

I’d imagine the conference gets that sorted out in the following week or so.

Hope ESPN Family of Networks will show Montana State Football game in 24

I hope Mercyhurst Football will succeed in FCS to fool all naysayers.

Go Montana State Bobcats!!!

Go Mercyhurst Lakers & hope for tons of success in FCS!!!

Montana St games of recent have all been on ESPN+ with one “after-dark” October/November game on ESPN2

God Bless You Reverend Winton Dupree I have confident that Montana State will be on ESPN2 sometime in 24.

@Dan Rakow These are the possible candidates for ESPN2:
12-OCT: vs Idaho
9-Nov: vs Sacramento State

There’s also a chance the Week 0 game against New Mexico is either on FS1 or CBSSN. Otherwise all other games are already slated for ESPN+ (at minimum).