Griz Look to Keep Momentum Hosting Dangerous Idaho State


The Montana Grizzlies return home for Homecoming this week following one of the program’s most significant road wins of the last decade, a 45-20 demolition of the previously 4/5 ranked UC Davis Aggies in California.

The win shot the Griz (4-1, 1-0 BSC) into the top-10 on Monday and earned them a bevy of awards. They now look to avoid the post-win letdown and keep climbing with a difficult task ahead as Montana hosts a dangerous Idaho State program (2-2, 1-0) that is coming off a big win of its own.

“They present a big challenge. They’ve got their quarterback back, they’ve played really well with him in the game. They’re extremely well-coached. They’ve done an amazing job there,” said head coach Bobby Hauck.

“They play hard, they’re sound, their scheme is excellent. They’re a handful to prepare for.”

The Bengals offense hit full stride last week, dispatching Portland State 51-24 in Pocatello thanks to the return of junior quarterback Matt Struck, who, after just three games (including one against Utah), holds the second-best pass efficiency rating in the Big Sky (191.6), having completed nearly 60-percent of his passes to date.

Complimented by returning first-team All-Big Sky receiver Mitch Gueller and second-team receiver Michael Dean, Struck is averaging 257.7 yards over his three games, including 343 yards and six TDs passing on just 16 completions against a PSU Viking defense that held the Arkansas Razorbacks to only 20 points.

Defensively, the Bengals enter this week’s matchup with the third-best scoring defense in the Big Sky, holding their opponents to an average of 20.2 points per game. That total includes the nationally ranked Utes, who managed just 31 points against them, and the FCS ranked UNI Panthers who managed only 13 points.

Due to an unbalanced Big Sky schedule, the Griz didn’t play ISU in Hauck’s first return season at UM in 2018, but that won’t mean Montana is not familiar with the Bengals. There will be plenty of familiar faces staring back from opposite sidelines this week as ISU comes to town led by former UM offensive coordinator Rob Phenicie, who worked at Montana and UNLV under Hauck, and three of his assistants who have Grizzly ties as well.

“This is a dangerous, dangerous, opponent, and they’ve got our attention early on in the week this week,” Hauck added.

“They know how we do business. We’ll have to change a few things to counteract that.”

Kickoff against the Bengals from Washington-Grizzly Stadium is set for 1:10 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 5.


This week marks the 100th Homecoming celebration in University of Montana history, with a full slate of activity on campus including the Hello Walk, Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony, Yell Night Pep Rally, Homecoming Parade, and various Homecoming tailgate parties.

Over the last century, Homecoming has been a particularly happy occasion for Grizzlies, holding an overall record of 64-33-1 since the first homecoming game was played against Washington State in 1919 (a 42-14 loss to the Cougars). The Griz have been especially successful since moving into the friendly confines of Washington-Grizzly Stadium in 1986, entering this week’s game holding a 29-4 record on Homecoming.

Of Note: While it wasn’t Homecoming that day, the first game played inside the stadium was against the same Idaho State Bengals, and was a 38-31 win for the Griz.

The Homecoming weekend gets underway on Friday with the Yell Night Pep Rally at 8 p.m. in the Oval, featuring the Griz football team, the Grizzly Marching Band, bonfires, fireworks, and singing on the steps.

The traditional homecoming parade winds its way from downtown Missoula to University Ave. starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. The Griz walk pregame pep rally begins shortly after at 10:50. A full schedule of Homecoming events can be found at

WHERE TO WATCH: Saturday’s game marks the second of six Griz games this season to be broadcast nationwide on ROOT Sports. Veteran broadcaster Tom Glasgow will have the play-by-play, with analysis from Taylor Barton.

ROOT Sports and its affiliates (AT&T Rocky Mountain, Las Vegas, and Southwest) are available on DirecTV, Dish Network, and Spectrum Cable. The game will also be shown on DirecTV’s Audience Network, part of the satellite provider’s basic channel lineup. Check local listings to see if the game is available in your area. A web stream of the game is also available via AT&T Now and AT&T TV (subscription required).

LISTEN: “Voice of the Griz” Riley Corcoran and longtime analyst Greg Sundberg will bring you the action live from Washington-Grizzly Stadium on KGVO Missoula, the flagship station of the Grizzly Sports Radio Network, and its thirteen affiliates around the state. Live audio streams can also be found at or on the TuneIn app.

SERIES HISTORY: The Montana/Idaho State rivalry dates back all the way to 1921, with the Griz holding a commanding 46-13 lead in the overall series. In Missoula, history is on UM’s side even more, with only losing three times in program history to ISU at home, with a 32-3 record at UM, and an unblemished 18-0 record at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The Griz have won 12 straight heading into the weekend, including the improbable 33-27 overtime win at ISU in 2015 where a bad snap on a game-winning field goal turned into a game-winning touchdown for Montana.


IN THE POLLS: Montana entered the top-10 in both national polls this week for the first time since 2016 following its upset road win over UC Davis.

The Griz rose 10 places in this week’s STATS FCS media poll to come in at No. 8 and moved up eight spots to No. 9 in the latest AFCA FCS coaches’ poll. Montana’s last appearance in the top-10 came back in September of 2016 after the Griz picked up another road upset over No. 3 ranked Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

UM’s No. 8/9 ranking is also the highest the Griz have been ranked since coming in at No. 14 last year after beating Northern Iowa in 2018, this time under the lights at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula.

ACCOLADES: Big wins = big praise, and Montana received plenty of it Monday after winning at UC Davis.

On the national level, STATS, the leading FCS news outlet, named Montana its “Team of the Week,” calling it a “statement” win for Hauck’s Grizzlies. STATS also named UM senior kicker/punter Adam Wilson its National Special Teams Player of the Week for pinning the Aggies deep in their own territory in both the punting and kicking game.

The College Football Performance Awards, which honors the best performances around the country at the FCS and FBS levels, named Dalton Sneed their “FCS Performer of the Week” for his lights-out play.

For the second-straight week, the Big Sky Conference also named Sneed the ROOT Sports Offensive Player of the Week, the first Grizzly to earn back-to-back weekly conference awards since Dante Olson in 2018. Sneed was also an honorable mention for the STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week.

• With 49 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Jerry Louie-McGee was one of Sneed’s favorite targets last week against the Aggies, and “Mr. Electricity” continues to climb the Montana all-time rankings because of it. Louie-McGee needs just four more receiving yards to move to No. 14 on UM’s career list, currently holding 2,086 yards in the category.

Which former Griz great JLM set to pass? None other than the coach that recruited him to Montana in the first place, and is now the offensive coordinator of the team that’s coming to town this week: Mike Ferriter. Ferriter was a standout receiver for the Griz under Hauck from 2005-08 and was an assistant at UM from 2015-17 before moving on to become the OC at ISU.

• Samuel Akem made a massive impact against the Aggies, hauling in six passes for 97 yards, including one miraculous grab-and-go for a 67-yard score. Now with 17 career touchdown receptions, Akem is tied with Scott Gurnsey at No. 15 on UM’s all-time TD catch list. Still with a year and a half to play, Akem, a junior, will be in the mix to break the school record of 29 touchdown grabs held by Marc Mariani by the time he graduates.

• Dante Olson registered yet another big day tackling at UC Davis (and picked off his third career interception to boot) and is again moving up the all-time tackles list at UM. Now with 269 career takedowns, Olson moved past Adam Boomer and is now tied with J.P. Kanangata’a (’10-’13) at No. 20 on the list, needing just two more to pass Mike McGowan (’87-’90) and four more to pass Olson’s former teammate Josh Buss.

THE NEED FOR SNEED: If you’re going to be named Big Sky Player of the Week two weeks in a row, you must be doing something right. For Sneed, that something is hard to pin down, with the senior from Scottsdale operating all phases of the Grizzly offense like a well-oiled machine.

For starters, he’s been accurate in the passing game, among the top in the conference and national rankings in completion percentage, passing efficiency, passing touchdowns, and passing yards per contest.

A true dual-threat QB, he’s also been dangerous with is feet, Ranked No. 9 in the FCS in total offense. As Montana’s second-leading rusher against UC Davis with 81 yards, and one of several emerging ball carriers, Montana’s offense is taking a new look with an added ground game attack. After 16 games as a Grizzly, Sneed’s total offensive output is currently the third-best in UM history, averaging 313.3 yards per game, just behind Drew Miller (327.8) and Dave Dickenson (329.2).

Sneed is also working his way up passing record lists at a feverish clip. With five passing TDs at UC Davis, Sneed moved ahead of his assistant head coach Brent Pease on UM’s all-time list, now with 35 passing scores in his career. He’s now racked up 4.205 yards in the air and is sitting at No. 12 on UM’s career passing yardage list.

“He’s completing passes at a high rate, and a high percentage. He’s getting us into the right play calls, both run and pass. He’s making plays with his feet. Just really operating quite efficiently,” said Hauck of his second-year starter.

GOOD KNIGHT: Sophomore Marcus Knight has helped add that spark to Montana’s ground game, leading UM in rushing at Davis with 91 yards and a TD to give him five rushing scores so far this season, tied for the most in the Big Sky. With the addition of a receiving touchdown, Knight’s total of six scores is the second-most in the league.

MOVING THE CHAINS: Montana had a balanced outing at UC Davis, picking up 28 first downs split evenly with 14 rushing and 14 passing. The Griz continue to lead the Big Sky and now ranks second in the nation in total first downs with 137 to date. UM is moving the chains when it counts, too. The Griz lead the league in third-down conversions for a third-straight week and rank seventh in the nation, converting 52 percent of third-down plays and extending drives.

FINISHING STRONG: After only allowing 13 second-half points against the Aggies, Montana has continued to trend upward throughout the game, after losing four different games in 2018 when holding a lead going into the final period. The Griz have scored a combined 116 points in the third and fourth quarters so far this season and only allowed 33 second-half points to FCS opponents. Montana is making amends in the fourth quarter, outscoring FCS opponents 42-13 in the closing stanza.

PIN ‘EM DEEP: Halfway through the season, Montana is one of the top teams in the nation in the kicking game. Led by Wilson, Montana’s punt unit is ranked first in the league and fourth nationally and has only allowed a single punt return all season. It was against Oregon, and it as for eight yards. Every other put has resulted in no return.

RETURN ‘EM BACK: On the other side of the coin, Montana’s return game is one of the best in the nation, with Malik Flowers leading the conference in kick returns (averaging 25 yards per return) and Louie-McGee still leading the league despite only having one returnable ball kicked his way in the last three games.

PICKED OFF: With the addition of Olson’s interception at UC Davis (as mentioned above) to UM’s tally, the Grizzlies now lead the Big Sky and rank fifth nationally in INTs this season with seven total. Interestingly, not a single Grizzly registers among the league-leaders in picks, however, with all seven INTs coming from a different player. Picking off passes for UM this season are: Olson, Robby HauckNash FouchAlex GubnerDareon NashGavin Robertson, and Justin Calhoun.

ANOTHER HAUCK MILESTONE: Montana’s win at UC Davis was the 90th overall win of Bobby Hauck‘s career as the Grizzlies’ head coach. Hauck became the winningest coach in UM history last season after the Griz win at Idaho, passing the legendary Don Read with his 86th victory.

(UN) FRIENDLY FACES: As mentioned, Bengal head coach Rob Phenicie and Ferriter both have ties to the Treasure State. Also returning to Missoula with ISU this week is Bengal Safeties coach JB Hall, who coached the cornerbacks at UM from 2015-18, as well as ISU strength coach Dan Ryan, who is a UM alumnus and helped coach the team as an undergraduate assistant before working with Hauck at UNLV.


• Montana’s win at UC Davis was the 598th in program history. UM needs just two more to become the 22nd school in the FCS to log 600 wins since 1897.

• While Olson may grab the headlines (for a good reason), junior Jace Lewis had another big game at linebacker on Saturday, picking up 13 total tackles, nine of which were solo. Those nine solos were the second-most of any Grizzly behind Olson’s 10 solo stops against Oregon.

• Wilson posted a new career-high (or long, as it were) at UC Davis, with averaging 61.6 yards per kickoff over the course of seven attempts.

• Sophomore nose guard Eli Alford had a career day at Davis as well, picking up three total tackles and the first sack of his career for a loss of seven yards.