Griz Picked Second in Big Sky Preseason Polls

The Montana Grizzlies have been picked to finish second in the 2020 Big Sky title race by the league’s coaches and media. The conference made the announcement Thursday on day one of its virtual media day on Pluto TV.

With a total of 11 first-place votes, the Griz are once again favored to compete for a league championship and return to the FCS playoffs to extend their record 24 all-time appearances.

“I appreciate the regard the other coaches and media have for us, and I think It’s probably where I envision us fitting in at this point,” said head coach Bobby Hauck. “I think we have a really fine football team, and I think we’ll be hard to beat.”

In tight voting, Montana received 496 total points in the media poll and 128 points in the coaches’ poll, edging out Montana State by a combined four first-place votes and 10 total points. The defending league champion Weber State Wildcats were picked to repeat as champions once again, topping both polls with a total of 35 first-place votes.

The Griz – who were picked to finish fourth/fifth a year ago and wound up in a tie for second – are set to take the field in 2020 with one of the most decorated teams in recent history, with eight returning All-Americans, six returning All-Big Sky players, and seven starters returning on each side of the ball.

With Hauck now entering the third year of his return tenure at Montana, the Grizzlies are beginning to look like the UM teams from the early 00’s that helped make him the winningest coach in program history.

“It’s always easier to say this after the season when you can evaluate how they performed, but the team we’ve put together has very few weak spots. I think it has a chance to be a really complete football team. I don’t know about dominating, but I’m not sure they can’t be a dominating team,” Hauck added.

“I’m very, very excited about it. From the amount of work we’ve put in since last season, to the talent we’ve assembled, to the schematic adjustments we’ve made, my experience would tell me this is absolutely a championship-caliber football team that can beat anybody in the country.”

Set to lead the way on Montana’s potent offense are preseason All-Americans Samori Toure (WR) and Marcus Knight (RB) who each shattered school records in 2019’s FCS Quarterfinal campaign. Receiver Samuel Akem also returns as a preseason all-conference pick in 2019 who wound up as a second-team all-league pick, despite missing the end of the season to injury.

Defensively, linebacker Jace Lewis returns for his senior year as the heir-apparent to Buchanan Award winner Dante Olson after a 135-tackle season as a junior. Safety Robby Hauck also returns after a 100-plus tackle season.

The Grizzlies are now scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sept. 12 at Missouri State after the home opener against Central Washington on Sept. 5 was canceled.

The #BigSkyFBVirtualKickoff continues on Friday at 10 a.m. Friday on Pluto TV channel 530 with the release of the preseason all-conference team and interviews with student-athletes. Representing Montana is record-breaking receiver Samori Toure.

2020 Big Sky Preseason Poll Results

Big Sky Football Preseason Media Poll

Teams Points First Place Votes
Weber State 546 28
Montana 496 8
Montana State 493 6
Eastern Washington 438 1
Sacramento State 389
UC Davis 325 1
Portland State 274
Idaho 273
Northern Arizona 238
Cal Poly 206
Idaho State 133
Southern Utah 105
Northern Colorado 88

Big Sky Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Weber State 135 7
Montana 128 3
Montana State 121 1
Eastern Washington 118 1
Sacramento State 99 1
UC Davis 83
Northern Arizona 68
Portland State 67
Idaho 66
Cal Poly 46
Idaho State 37
Southern Utah 33
Northern Colorado 13