Montana Grizzlies announce future league, nonconference football games

Posted at 10:15 AM, May 07, 2019

(Editor’s note: University of Montana athletics release)

MISSOULA — The Montana Grizzlies announced a slate of future nonconference football games stretching into the 2027 season, and the Big Sky announced Montana’s conference schedule through the 2023 season on Tuesday.

In nonconference action, Montana has added a total of seven games against three different first-time Division-I FCS opponents in Dixie State, Butler, and Western Carolina. Also announced on Tuesday was the date for the return leg of the home-and-home series against South Dakota, set to be played on Sept. 10, 2022, in Missoula.

In Big Sky play, the Griz will see many of their traditional rivals return to Missoula – some for the first time in four seasons due to the unbalanced conference schedule – as the league revealed the conference schedule matrix through the 2023 season.

DIXIE STATE: Montana will begin a new regional series against FCS debutants Dixie State (St. George, Utah) in 2021, with the Trailblazers scheduled to move to D-I in the 2020 season as an FCS independent and member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) for all other sports.

The Grizzlies will play a four-game series against Dixie State, with games scheduled for 2021, 2023, 2026, and 2027, with three of the four set to be played in Missoula.

“I think putting together a long-term agreement for multiple games is always a good idea. When Dixie State announced they were moving to the FCS level we wanted to get them on the schedule as much as we could,” said Montana director of athletics Kent Haslam.

“They have excellent facilities and a great football tradition at St. George, so that will be a good regional matchup for us.”

Montana will open the series against Dixie State at home on Sept. 25, 2021, then travel to St. George on Sept. 9, 2023. The Trailblazers will then return to Missoula twice. The first will serve as the home opener on Sept. 5, 2026. DSU will return the following season on Sept. 18, 2027.

To accommodate the 2021 matchup against the Trailblazers, Montana moved its scheduled home game against Missouri State to Aug. 31, 2024, giving the Grizzlies a pair of nonconference games against Missouri Valley Conference teams to open the season, with UM traveling to North Dakota the following week.

BUTLER: Montana will open the 2023 season hosting Butler University out of the Pioneer League for a one-off visit on Sept. 2 in Missoula. The Bulldogs will be the fifth Pioneer League team to visit Missoula in recent years, following San Diego, Valparaiso, Drake, and Morehead State, which is scheduled to play at UM in 2020.

Butler and Dixie State will be the first two games of the season on the Grizzlies’ 2023 schedule, with an open date yet to be filled.

“The goal is always six home games with an all Division-I schedule if you can possibly do it,” said Haslam.

“Pioneer League teams are playoff eligible and earn an automatic bid, so playing them is a good option for us. Plus, it’s a team we’ve never seen and has never come into Missoula, so that’s exciting as well.”

Butler is coming off a 4-7 season in 2018 that saw the Bulldogs come up with an early upset win over then No. 24-ranked Youngstown State.

WESTERN CAROLINA: Montana has also added a home-and-home series with the Southern Conference’s Western Carolina Catamounts in 2024 and 2025.

WCU will come to Missoula on Sept. 14, 2024, for the third nonconference game of the year for the Grizzlies. UM will then travel to the Appalachian Mountains to face the Catamounts in Cullowhee, North Carolina, for a rare trip east of the Mississippi River for the Griz.

Haslam says he and WCU athletic director Randy Eaton hatched the idea for the home-and-home series while serving together on the FCS Selection Committee.

“One of the struggles within FCS football is good national matchups. So, an opportunity to play a team where you cross time zones into a different part of the country is great for the selection process, and I think it’s a great way to expose FCS football,” said Haslam.

Montana has only ventured east of the Mississippi seven times since the turn of the century, holding a 3-4 record. The Grizzlies’ last trip to Appalachia was in 2015 at Liberty, and at Appalachian State in 2012 before that.

With these additions to future schedules, Montana now has just three open nonconference dates left to fill through the 2024 season.

In Big Sky play, the Grizzlies will face a tough road schedule in 2020, traveling to face rivals Eastern Washington, Idaho, Northern Arizona, and Northern Colorado before capping the season with Montana State at home in the annual Brawl of the Wild.

In 2021 classic conference rivalry games will come to Missoula as the Griz host Northern Arizona for the first time in four years, as well as Weber State and Idaho.

Eastern Washington and Montana State highlight the 2022 home schedule, while in 2023 both Idaho and Idaho State will play in Missoula for the first time since 1986.

The Grizzlies will open a challenging 2019 season at South Dakota on Aug. 31 and will host North Alabama in the home opener on Sept. 7.

Future Montana Grizzly football schedules

2020 football schedule
9.5 Central Washington
9.12 @ Missouri State
9.19 Morehead State
9.26 Cal Poly
10.3 @ Eastern Washington
10.10 Bye
10.17 Sacramento State
10.24 @ Idaho
10.31 Southern Utah
11.7 @ Northern Colorado
11.14 @ Northern Arizona
11.21 Montana State

2021 football schedule
9.4 @ Washington
9.11 Western Illinois
9.18 Bye
9.25 Dixie State
10.2 Northern Arizona
10.9 @ Idaho State
10.16 Weber State
10.23 @ UC Davis
10.30 @ Southern Utah
11.6 Portland State
11.13 Idaho
11.20 @ Montana State

2022 football schedule
9.3 TBD
9.10 South Dakota
9.17 TBD
9.24 @ Idaho
10.1 TBD
10.8 Eastern Washington
10.15 @ Cal Poly
10.22 @ Weber State
10.29 Northern Colorado
11.5 UC Davis
11.12 @ Sacramento State
11.19 Montana State

2023 football schedule
9.2 Butler
9.9 @ Dixie State
9.16 TBD
9.23 @ Portland State
9.30 TBD
10.7 Idaho
10.14 @ Northern Colorado
10.21 Idaho State
10.28 Southern Utah
11.4 @ Northern Arizona
11.11 Sacramento State
11.18 @ Montana State

2024 football schedule
8.31 Missouri State
9.7 @ North Dakota
9.14 Western Carolina

2025 football schedule
8.30 @ Western Carolina
9.13 North Dakota

2026 football schedule
9.05 Dixie State

2027 football schedule
9.18 Dixie State