Grizmageddon: Griz stifle Montana State to win Big Sky title
(Montana Sports Information) There has never been a bigger Brawl of the Wild. The stage has never been grander, the lights brighter, the stakes higher. And on Saturday afternoon in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, the Montana Grizzlies have never been better.
The No. 3 Griz won the first-ever Brawl that featured both teams ranked inside the top five nationally 37-7 to win the outright Big Sky Conference Championship and a likely top-two seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
It's the first Big Sky title for Montana since 2009 and 19th overall in the program's history, the most of any team in the league. It's the ninth conference title for the Big Sky's winningest head coach of all-time Bobby Hauck.
"That was something," Hauck said. "It was an ass-kicking, let's call it what it is. I'm proud of our football team, I'm proud of our assistant coaches. Brent Pease did an unbelievable job calling it today. I'm proud of our football team. I love this team, like I do most of our teams, but this team is special."
They accomplished the goal in dominating fashion, scoring the first 20 points of the game and leaving absolutely no doubt. They also did it in front of a Washington-Grizzly Stadium record crowd of 27,178 fans.
It's the biggest win in the series for Montana since a 35-3 win in the famous Copper and Gold game of 2008, and the second win in the last three years against the Bobcats.
A Bobcat offense that led the country coming into the game by averaging 43.8 points per game was held completely in check, scoring just a single time while going 1-for-10 on third down and being stopped on all four of their fourth down attempts.
The Grizzly defense held them nearly 100 yards under their season average for rushing, and the secondary held the pair of Bobcat quarterbacks to just 4-of-16 through the air for 67 yards.
The offense, meanwhile, continued the balanced attack that has been so key to the Grizzlies seven-game winning streak. Montana passed for 228 yards and ran for another 202 to outgain Montana State 430-280 in the game.
"We were good in the critical situations," Hauck said. "We were good in the red zone, we were good on third and fourth down. We were good running it. We were solid in the rush defense. They just didn't get a ton of plays. They aren't built for that."
Montana's offense went 5-for-5 in the red zone. The Grizzlies also didn't turn the ball over all day, controlling the clock to a 34:44-to-25:16 advantage.
The Grizzlies have outscored their previous four opponents 145-24 as they head into the playoffs about as hot as you can get. They held their opponent under 300 yards for the fourth consecutive game and are outgaining opponents by an average of 480.25-224.25 yards per game over the last four.
In addition to the Great Divide Trophy, Montana also lifted the Big Sky Trophy following the game. It's the first in the Hauck 2.0 era after the head coach won a championship every single season his first time at Montana from 2002-09.
"I told the team that back last time around we used to use these things as door stops around here," Hauck said. "It's been a while and we're going to relish having this, but that's the habit that we're going to be in. I'm excited about it and I can't wait to start working on our 20th Big Sky Championship."