It’s not important how you start, but how you finish! It’s been a rollercoaster season of one season, but our University of Montana Grizzlies still made it to the FCS playoffs and the championship aspirations are still alive. The Griz started the season as the top-five team in the country, going five games unbeaten, but injuries and heartbreaking losses derailed an impressive regular season.
The Griz finished the season 7-4 and suffered one of the worst losses in program history. Montana traveled to Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman and was beaten 55-21. Montana State ended up having the regular season the Griz were hoping for, finishing the season 10-1 and undefeated in the Big Sky game. They earned a playoff bye and a no in the first round. 4 seeds.
The new season starts now
However, none of that matters now. Throw the record books out the window. It’s time to do it all or die. Win and advance or lose and go home. It’s that simple. The Griz will host the 9-2 Southeast Missouri Redhawks, who won their Ohio Valley Conference. The game will be played under the lights at Washington Grizzly Stadium with kick-off at 8:00 p.m
This is Montana’s first time facing SEMO, and the Redhawks shouldn’t be taken lightly. They have a top 10 rushing offense led by running back Geno Hess, who is averaging 142 rush yards per game. Hess is also a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, presented annually to college football Division I national offensive player of the year.
When it came down to it, Hess rushed for 317 yards and four touchdowns against Murray State in last week’s OVC title game. The Griz have been great against run all season, but the Bobcats shredded them for 439 yards last week. Hopefully that was just a bad performance and not the start of a trend.
The Redhawks also have a star defender named Bryce Norman. Norman is a linebacker and a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award for National Defensive Player of the Year. Norman had 108 tackles this year, 4 tackles to a loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
If the Griz can stop the run and get the offense back on track, a December playoff game isn’t out of the question. If Montana is victorious, they will travel back to Fargo to face North Dakota State in the second round of the playoffs.
How to watch and listen
The Griz return to the national television spotlight this week for the first round of the FCS Playoffs. Saturday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. A stream of the game is also available on the ESPN app, with a cable subscription required to log in.
“Voice of the Griz” Riley Corcoran and analyst Greg Sundberg bring you all the action live from Missoula right here on KGVO, the Grizzly Sports Radio Network’s flagship station. You can listen to the game on 98.3 FM, AM 1290, online at newstalkkgvo.com or on the FREE KGVO app.
Grizzly Gameday begins every Saturday two hours before kick-off with the official pre-game radio show featuring our very own Denny Bedard and Scott Gurnsey then throwing to Corcoran and Sundberg 30 minutes before kick-off. Bedard and Gurnsey will also host the official post-game show.
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