After well-timed bye, No. 7 Montana returns home to face Northern Colorado

Posted at 6:47 PM, Oct 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-27 20:47:36-04

MISSOULA — After having a bye last week and not having played at home in almost a month, the Montana Grizzlies return to Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday against Northern Colorado as the Big Sky Conference enters the home stretch of the regular season.

The bye week arrived seven games into the season for the Grizzlies as they came off of back-to-back road wins.

“I thought that bye week was well-timed I think this is the latest bye week we've had since I've been here, so it's nice to just be able to relax for a little bit and catch our breath and start prepping for Northern Colorado,” said Griz offensive lineman AJ Forbes.

Northern Colorado enters this game 0-7 under first-year coach Ed Lamb. The Bears have been competitive in games against opponents like Sacramento State and Weber State, and as a team that has been slow out of the gates off of a bye in the past, Montana doesn’t want to take Northern Colorado lightly.

“Winning's hard. Everybody's trying, and they're far better than their record. They play really hard they do things right and they have not quite gotten over the hump. We don't look at the scores, we look at the film and when you watch the film this is a good football team.”

Led by quarterback Jacob Sirmon, the upset-minded Bears have never won in Missoula but will be looking to play spoiler against the No. 7-ranked Griz.

"We're playing to our standards. We're not looking at the record of the opponent, we're looking at the film and we're trying to play to our standard," Forbes said. "I think probably the biggest thing is it doesn't matter if you win big on a team and you look at the film and you didn't do your job or or execute on what you wanted to do on a particular play. So playing to our standard is the biggest thing when it comes to that."

As the Griz have just four games left in the regular season, their conference-opening loss to Northern Arizona is well in the rear view mirror after back-to-back ranked road wins heading into the bye, as Montana has found some rhythm again with an improved offense and a defense that has settled in and found its groove.

"Just understanding that this is a week-to-week deal and you've got to take the bad from what happened that first loss. We made a lot of corrections and just focusing on this one week is everything for us. We're not looking in the future down the road, anything like that," said defensive lineman Alex Gubner.

"I think everything is really starting to click right now I think we're diving into what we want our identity to be and I think that's been a catalyst for what we've been doing so far,," Forbes said.