Montana Hosts San Diego in 1st Round FCS Playoff Game Nov. 29


The University of Montana Grizzlies received an at-large berth to compete in the 2014 NCAA Division I Football Championship, and will host the University of San Diego Toreros, Saturday, Nov. 29, at 2:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) in UM’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The game will be aired on ESPN3.

The 13-ranked Grizzlies (8-4/6-2 Big Sky Conference) wrapped up the regular season yesterday, defeating the 12th-ranked Montana State Bobcats 34-7 in a must-win contest in the teams’ 114th “Brawl of the Wild” match-up.

Montana will be making a record 23rd appearance in the Division I-AA/FCS playoffs this Saturday when it hosts San Diego.


114th Brawl of the Wild. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula.

The Toreros (9-2/7-1 Pioneer Football League), earned their league’s automatic bid as the regular-season champion. USD ended its regular-season with a 34-3 non-league home loss to Big Sky member Cal Poly (7-5/5-3 BSC).

“What this means is we’re where Montana football should be, and that is in the playoffs and competing every single year for national championships,” said Griz head coach Mick Delaney as he watched the announcement of the playoff match-ups Sunday (Nov. 23) morning on ESPNU along with his coaches and players.

“I am so proud of these coaches and kids,” said the third year mentor, who announced earlier this week he will retire at the conclusion of the 2014 season. “They have strived so hard, and I honestly believe that we’ve gotten better week-by-week.


114th Brawl of the Wild. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula.

“We go into the season losing two all-conference tackles (senior Trevor Poole due to an injury and junior John Schmaing because of academics), along with our all-conference receiver and returner with Ellis (Henderson, who is a junior and out for the year with an illness). Our coaches just molded the guys we had, which just speaks of the character and the drive this football team has.

“I am so humbled to have been a part of this whole thing for the past seven years (he came to UM in 2008 as the associate head coach/running backs coach) — and you know we are not done yet,” Delaney said.

“It was unbelievable dominance,” said Delaney about his team’s 34-7 win over MSU. “It’s not just another game, it’s a rivalry game obviously. We approached the week and tried to get a lot of the emotional part out of it, and I think we did a pretty good job of that. Senior Day (the Griz have 16 seniors on their team) is a hard day, and we did our senior day deal on Friday. I really believe their minds were on nothing more than going out and playing with passion and executing the game plan, which they did almost to perfection.” (See the entire photo gallery from the 2014 Brawl of the Wild Game)

This is the second straight year the Pioneer Football League champion received one of the 11 automatic bids. Last season the playoffs expanded to 24 teams.

The only common opponent that Montana and San Diego had this season was Cal Poly. The Mustangs beat the visiting Grizzlies 41-21 on Oct. 25.

The winner of the Montana-USD game will play number four seed Eastern Washington on Saturday, Dec. 6, in Cheney, Wash., with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. (Mtn.).