Griz Picked No. 2 in AFCA Preseason Poll

The FCS football coaches around the nation have tabbed the Montana Grizzlies as the No. 2 team in the nation with the release of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) preseason top-25, the organization announced Monday.

It’s the highest preseason ranking the Grizzlies have received in the leadup to the 2022 season, having been picked No. 3 in the preseason media poll in recent weeks.  

The Griz were also once again the highest ranked out of six Big Sky Conference teams in the AFCA poll, having received 567 total points in the voting. Montana edged out South Dakota State by a single point, with the Jackrabbits receiving 566 points. 

With The South Dakota Coyotes sitting just outside of the AFCA’s top 25 with 49 points, Montana is slated to face five of the top 26 teams in the nation during the regular season, three of which will be on the road. 

Montana State slotted in at No. 4 on the poll, with Sacramento State at No. 7, Eastern Washington at No. 12, Weber State at No. 20, and South Dakota at No. 26. 

Defending national champions North Dakota State were picked to repeat at No. 1 in the poll with 24 first-place votes. South Dakota State sits just behind Montana at No. 3, with Montana State and Villanova rounding out the top five. 

Montana returns 18 starters from the 2021 FCS quarterfinal squad, nine on offense and nine on defense, with 38 total returning lettermen. The Griz also return seven All-Big Sky performers, including Newcomer of the Year and unanimous All-American cornerback Justin Ford. Buck Buchanan Award finalist linebacker Patrick O’Connell also returns for his senior campaign.

Earlier in the summer, Ford, O’Connell, and Robby Hauck were each named to the 2022 preseason watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award that goes to the nation’s top defender. 

Montana opens its highly-anticipated 2022 season on Sept. 3 at home against Northwestern State. 

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