MISSOULA – The bar has now been set. Montana’s season-opening win moved the Grizzlies up to No. 14 in the country, so UM must now adjust from unknown underdogs to heavy favorites for Round 2 in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Montana meets the Drake Bulldogs for the first time this Saturday. Drake comes from the Pioneer Football League, usually one of the weaker conferences in the FCS. But Pioneer League champ, San Diego, has upset Big Sky Conference teams in the playoffs the past two years.
The Bulldogs have not beaten a ranked opponent since 2007, but they have finished with a winning record in 13 of the past 14 years, including a 7-4 mark last season.
Drake’s first game last week was canceled due to poor weather, so the Griz have to go back to last year to watch film. But UM does have an advantage with one game under its belt.
“I do believe to a degree the adage that you have a chance to make big improvements Week 1 to Week 2 is accurate,” said Montana head coach Bobby Hauck. “So there’s a lot of stuff we’ve got to do better. This will be a big week of practice for us.”
“We also know that they’ve got a very veteran team with eight starters that are seniors on either side of the ball,” said Hauck about the Bulldogs. “So we’re going to be playing an experienced football team.”
In comparison to all of that experience on Drake’s roster, Montana started only four seniors and five freshmen in Game 1.
The Bulldogs and Grizzlies kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday in Missoula.