It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish! It has been a rollercoaster of a season, but our University of Montana Grizzlies still made the FCS playoffs and championship aspirations are still alive. The Griz entered the season as a top-five team in the country and were undefeated through five games, but injuries and heartbreaking losses derailed what was supposed to be an impressive regular season.  

The Griz finished the season 7-4 and are coming off one of the worst losses in program history. Montana traveled to Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman and got smacked 55-21. Montana State ended up having the regular season the Griz had hoped for, finishing the season 10-1 and undefeated in Big Sky play. They earned a first-round playoff bye and a no. 4 seed.  

New Season Starts Now

However, none of that matters now. Throw the record books out the window. It’s do-or-die time. Win and advance, or lose and go home. It’s that simple. The Griz will host the 9-2 Southeast Missouri Redhawks who won their Ohio Valley Conference. The game will be played under the lights inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium with kickoff set for 8:00 p.m.  

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This is the first time Montana has faced SEMO and the Redhawks should not be taken lightly. They have a top-10 rushing attack that is led by running back Geno Hess who averages 142 rush yards per game. Hess is also a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which is annually presented to the national offensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision. 

When it mattered most, Hess rushed for 317 yards and four touchdowns against Murray State in the OVC title game last week. The Griz were great against the run all season, but the Bobcats gashed them up for 439 yards last week. Hopefully, that was just one bad performance and not the start of a trend. 

The Redhawks also have a star on defense named Bryce Norman. Norman is a linebacker and a Buck Buchanan Award finalist, which is given to the national defensive player of the year. Norman had 108 tackles this year, 4 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, and one forced fumble. 

If the Griz can stop the run and get the offense back on track, a December playoff game is not out of the question. If Montana is victorious, they will once again travel to Fargo to face North Dakota State in the second round of the playoffs. 

How to Watch and Listen

The Griz return to the national television spotlight this week for the first round of the FCS playoffs. Saturday’s game will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN2. A stream of the game is also available on the ESPN app, with a cable subscription required for login.  

"Voice of the Griz" Riley Corcoran and analyst Greg Sundberg will bring you the action live from Missoula right here on KGVO, the flagship station of the Grizzly Sports Radio Network. You can listen to the game on 98.3 FM, AM 1290, online at newstalkkgvo.com, or on the FREE KGVO App.

"Grizzly Gameday" starts two hours before kickoff each Saturday with the official pregame radio show featuring our own Denny Bedard and Scott Gurnsey, who then throw to Corcoran and Sundberg 30 minutes before kickoff. Bedard and Gurnsey will also host the official post-game show.

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