Sept. 18, 2012
THE GAME: The 11th/14th-ranked University of Montana Grizzlies (2-1/0-0 BSC) are back home this Saturday, Sept. 22, hosting the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (2-1/0-0 BSC) in their annual Homecoming game and also their 2012 Big Sky Conference opener in UM's Washington-Grizzly Stadium (25,217). Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. (Mountain Time).
HOMECOMING IN WGS: Montana is 22-3 in Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Homecoming games and has won 19 in a row in WGS. The Griz and Jacks have played three times in one of Montana's Homecoming contests, and UM has won all three: 33-26, 2 OTs in 1988; 35-24 in 1994; and 24-21 in 2006. (Grizzlies' WGS Homecoming scores on add 2-2-2 of the weekly release).
SKY OPENERS: Montana is 31-18 all-time in Big Sky openers.
GRIZ RADIO: Veteran Mick Holien calls the play-by-play for Griz football for the 20th season in a row. Former Griz (1991-94) wide receiver Scott Gurnsey and Greg Sundberg provide color commentary. UM's flagship station is KGVO Radio, 1290 AM/KVWE 101.5 FM. (The entire 2012 Grizzly Football Radio Network is listed on add 6-6-6 of th w weekly release).
TV: The Griz-Jacks will be televised by ROOT Sports (DirecTV Channel 659, Dish Network Channel 414, or local cable provider -- check your local listings). For DIRECTV customers, this weekend's game will be available on ROOT SPORTS Channel 687 in the Northwest region, Channel 683 in the Rocky Mountain region, and Channel 659 in the Pittsburgh region. The game will be available in the outer market on Audience Network Channel 239-1. For Dish Network customers, the game will air on Channel 426 in the Northwest region, Channel 414 in the Rocky Mountain Region, and Channel 428 in the Pittsburgh area.
ROOT Sports TV Announcers: Tom Glasgow (play-by-play), Sed Bonner (analyst), Jason Stiles (on-field analyst), Jen Mueller (reporter), and Jenny Cavnar (reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: Montana leads the series 32-12 and has won 14 in a row, and 23 of the last 24, dating back to the 1988 season. The last NAU win was 27-24 in Flagstaff in 1997. (NAU quick facts and series game-by game scores on add 3-3-3).
GRIZ LAST WEEK: At Montana 34, Liberty 14: Under a hazy, smoke-filled sky due to near-by forest fires, the 14th-ranked Grizzlies shook off a shaky start, and thanks to special teams, a solid running attack, and excellent run defense, defeated the visiting Flames in UM's final non-league game of the season in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
FLAMES OUT-STAT GRIZ/BUT UM RUSHES FOR 201 YARDS: Liberty had more first downs (21 to 17), more passing yards (321 to 95) and more time with the ball (34:23 to 25:37). While the Flames may have seemed more dominant offensively, Montana's running game was solid, as the Grizzlies gained 201 rushing yards, almost 10 times (201 to 21) that of what Liberty (0-3) put on the board. (Game stats and story on add 14-14-14 of the weekly release).
NGUYEN BUILDS "MO": The Griz got some much-needed momentum when halfback Peter Nguyen scored on 90-yard punt for a TD in the first quarter -- the first score of the game.
GRIZ STAT LEADERS VERSUS LIBERTY: Quarterback Trent McKinney passed for 95 yards and a touchdown, and also rushed for a score. Tight end Greg Hardy had 7 catches and one TD. Halfback Dan Moore racked up 92 yards and a touchdown. The Griz, who had four turnovers at Appalachian State, had one against Liberty, while the Flames had three.
Montana's defense was led by linebacker John Kanongata'a, who had 10 tackles, defensive end Zack Wagenmann had three stops for loss, a pair of sacks, and a pass deflection.
WINNING STREAK: Montana has had 26 winning seasons in a row, dating back to 1986.
SKY KINGS: In 2011, the Grizzlies won (or shared) their 16th Big Sky Conference championship in the past 19 years, and 13th in the last 14 seasons.
PLAYOFF RECORD-HOLDERS: The 2011 season was the 18th time in the last 19 years that Montana has participated in the national playoffs. The Griz played in the playoff a record 17 straigtht seasons, from 1993-2010. Montana has now participated in the Division I-AA and FCS playoffs a record 21 times.