MISSOULA — It's officially Brawl of the Wild week as the No. 7 Montana Grizzlies get set to take on No. 3 Montana State on Saturday. It's a Top 10 clash for the second straight time in this rivalry after 2019, when Montana State was No. 8 while UM was No. 3.
Let's take a look back at how Montana got to this point in the season.
Season in review
The start of the season couldn't have been better for Montana, as the Grizzlies went to Seattle and became just the 6th FCS program to beat a ranked FBS program in the last 40 years when they stunned Washington, 13-7.
From there, Montana reeled off a pair of convincing wins over Western Illinois and Cal Poly and the defense continued its dominant run to start the season.
UM rose as high as No. 4 in the polls, but suffered its first setback when the Grizzlies traveled to Cheney to take on Eastern Washington, and a last-second heave fell to the ground as Montana attempted the comeback but ultimately lost 34-28.
The injury bug hit Montana at that point, notably to starting quarterback Cam Humphrey who exited the Eastern Washington game late and missed the next three games. Montana's receivers, defensive line and offensive line have all seen various injuries as well.
Two weeks after EWU, the Grizzlies again fell short in a loss to Sac State at home, as the team's health and inexperience on the field collided against a Hornets team that sit atop the conference with MSU.
But since, Montana has gained momentum again and is currently riding a four-game winning streak after some blowout wins against some of the Big Sky Conference's lower teams, and one close call against Southern Utah.
Humphrey returned briefly against the Thunderbirds before starting in wins over Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona, and the defense has returned to form and hasn't allowed a touchdown in 10 straight quarters.
So through a lot of ups and a few downs, the Grizzlies sit at 8-2 overall and 5-2 in conference play.
When asked to sum up UM's season so far during Monday's press conference, Griz coach Bobby Hauck said, "The word I'd use is competitive. They love to play, they're competitive and I'm sure we'll be excited to go out there this weekend."
The FCS playoffs are inevitable for Montana, but the result of Saturday's game against Montana State will go a long way to determining when and where the Grizzlies begin their postseason path.