MISSOULA – The Montana Grizzlies meet a Missouri Valley challenger to kick off the season, opening up the season on Saturday night versus Northern Iowa.
The Panthers ran to an 8-5 record last year, winning a playoff game before losing in the round of 16, and many predict the same kind of season for UNI. The Panthers are ranked 13th in the preseason FCS poll.
Last year they ran the ball slightly more than they threw it, but longtime head coach Mark Farley will bring a balanced team to Missoula that has a lot of qualities Griz head coach Bobby Hauck admires.
“Mark has been there a long time. I think 18 years is the number,” said Hauck. “They know what they’re doing. They are coached tough. They are a tough football team. They’re physical. All of the things you expect from a team from that part of the country.”
“They’re big. They’re athletic. They obviously know how to play some really good football,” added Griz defensive end Reggie Tilleman. “As a defense we obviously pride ourselves on stopping the run, and so if we can stop them from doing that, it’s always fun to do. It’s going to be a fun game.”
Montana has won all six previous meetings between the two programs, including two years ago 20-14 in Northern Iowa.
Washington-Grizzly Stadium should be rocking at 7 p.m. Saturday. The 24th-ranked Grizzlies will host the No. 13 Panthers.