By ERIC TABER
The Montana Grizzlies have booked a seat in the NCAA FCS playoffs for a record 23rd time after receiving an at-large playoff bid by the FCS football selection committee on Sunday morning.
With the bid, Montana (7-4) will host the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (8-3) at Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Nov. 28, in a 1:00 p.m. (MT) kickoff. Fans can watch the game via live web stream on ESPN 3.
Tickets for the playoff game are on sale now at GrizTix.com, and at the Adams Center Box Office on the UM campus. Season ticket holders have until 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday to secure their seats.
“It’s great to be back in Washington-Griz and to extend the season,” said Montana head coach Bob Stitt at the Grizzlies watch party on Sunday morning. “We really wanted to play another game, considering how well we’ve ben playing the last few weeks.”
The Montana faithful will remember the Jackrabbits well, from when they traveled to Missoula for an opening round playoff game in 2009 in what could be the greatest comeback of all time for the Griz.
The then-undefeated Griz (11-0) found themselves trailing No. 11 SDSU by 27 points with 5:40 left in the third quarter, and an upset victory for the visitors looked imminent. The Griz then rattled off 40 unanswered points to claim a 61-48 win, sparked by a Marc Mariani kickoff return.
The Griz also pulled a Jackrabbit out of a hat to defeat SDSU the in the 1993 season opener in Missoula, winning 52-48 in comeback fashion.
This year’s Jackrabbits enter the playoffs sitting at No. 10 in the latest STATS FCS top 25, wile the Griz move up a spot to No. 16. Montana is 7-0 all-time against South Dakota State.
SDSU’s 2015 season has seen its ups and downs, with victories of note over the Kansas Jayhawks, and Big Sky champion Southern Utah Thunderbirds, but also includes a 28-7 home loss to North Dakota State, and a double overtime loss at unranked Western Illinois on Saturday.
The Jackrabbits finished in a tie for third in the Missouri Valley Conference along side Northern Iowa and Western Illinois, while Montana finished in a tie for second in the Big Sky with Portland State.
Should the Grizzlies defeat the Jackrabbits on Nov. 28, a rematch with the North Dakota State Bison looms in Fargo, after NDSU received a first-round bye as the No. 3 seed.
Montana’s corner of the playoff bracket also includes Big Sky foe Portland State, who will face the winner of the Northern Iowa/Eastern Illinois game as a No. 6 seed.
The Griz are competing for a spot in the 2016 Division I Football Championship title game, set for Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on January 9, 2016.
The 2015 NCAA Division I Playoff field
Automatic Qualifiers (10)
Big Sky Conference – Southern Utah (8-3) Big South Conference – Charleston Southern (9-2) Colonial Athletic Association – Richmond (8-3) Missouri Valley Football Conference – North Dakota State (9-2) Northeast Conference – Duquesne (8-3) Ohio Valley Conference – Jacksonville State (10-1) Patriot League – Colgate (7-4) Pioneer Football League – Dayton (10-1) Southern Conference – Chattanooga (8-3) Southland Conference – McNeese State (10-0)
Big Sky Conference – Montana (7-4)
Big Sky Conference – Portland State (9-2) Big South Conference – Coastal Carolina (9-2) Colonial Athletic Association – James Madison (9-2) Colonial Athletic Association – New Hampshire (7-4) Colonial Athletic Association – William and Mary (8-3) Missouri Valley Football Conference – Illinois State (9-2) Missouri Valley Football Conference – South Dakota State (8-3) Missouri Valley Football Conference – Western Illinois (6-5) Missouri Valley Football Conference – University of Northern Iowa (7-4) Ohio Valley Conference – Eastern Illinois (7-4) Patriot League – Fordham (9-2) Southern Conference – The Citadel (8-3) Southland Conference – Sam Houston State (8-3)
- November 28 at Dayton, Ohio, Noon (ET) (ESPN3) Western Ill. (6-5) at Dayton (10-1)
- November 28 at Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Fordham (9-2) at Chattanooga (8-3)
- November 28 at Conway, South Carolina, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) The Citadel (8-3) at Coastal Carolina (9-2)
- November 28 at Huntsville, Texas, 3 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Southern Utah (8-3) at Sam Houston St. (8-3)
- November 28 at Missoula, Montana, 3 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) South Dakota St. (8-3) at Montana (7-4)
- November 28 at Durham, New Hampshire, 3:30 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Colgate (7-4) at New Hampshire (7-4)
- November 28 at Williamsburg, Virginia, 3:30 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Duquesne (8-3) at William & Mary (8-3)
- November 28 at Cedar Falls, Iowa, 5 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Eastern Ill. (7-4) at UNI (7-4)
- December 5 at Charleston, South Carolina, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Citadel/Coastal Caro. winner at #8 Charleston So. (9-2)
- December 5 at Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Colgate/New Hampshire winner at #5 James Madison (9-2)
- December 5 at Richmond, Virginia, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Duquesne/William & Mary winner at #7 Richmond (8-3) December 5 at Jacksonville, Alabama, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Fordham/Chattanooga winner at #1 Jacksonville St. (10-1)
- December 5 at Normal, Illinois, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Western Ill./Dayton winner at #2 Illinois St. (9-2)
- December 5 at Fargo, North Dakota, 3:30 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) South Dakota St./Montana winner at #3 North Dakota St. (9-2)
- December 5 at Lake Charles, Louisiana, 7 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Southern Utah/Sam Houston St. winner at #4 McNeese St. (10-0)
- December 5 at Portland, Oregon, 10 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3) Eastern Ill./UNI winner at #6 Portland St. (9-2)