Montana football: Griz fill out 12-game schedule for 2019 season
In 2019, the planets align for FCS football teams around the nation, with the calendar allowing programs to extend their schedules from 11 to 12 regular season games.
NCAA rules permit FCS programs an extra game in years when there are 13 Saturdays between Labor Day weekend and the weekend before Thanksgiving, which most recently occurred in 2014 and is set to happen again in 2019 and 2024.
With extra slots to fill, the Montana Grizzlies have completed the 2019 schedule, adding a fourth nonconference game against Monmouth University. UM has also gotten a jump on filling 2024's 12-game schedule, renewing what will be a former Big Sky rivalry against North Dakota.
In 2019, Washington-Grizzly Stadium will play host to the Monmouth Hawks - an FCS program out of West Long Branch, New Jersey, who competes in the Big South Conference - on Sept. 21, in a one-off matchup. The game will become the first ever between the two institutions.
The Grizzlies' 2024 12-game schedule will include a trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota on Sept. 7, for the first game in a home-and-home series with the Fighting Hawks, who, by then, will be a full member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference starting in 2020.
UND will complete the home-and-home series with a trip to Missoula in 2025 on Sept. 13.
Montana's 2019 schedule opens against South Dakota in Vermillion on Aug. 31. The Griz will then host the University of North Alabama on Sept. 7 in Missoula in the Lions second season in the FCS ranks.
The Griz will then travel to Eugene, Ore. On Sept. 14 to face the Pac-12's Oregon Ducks. Monmouth completes the nonconference slate on Sept. 21 in Missoula, giving the Griz two home and two away games in the lead up to Big Sky play.
"It's a rare opportunity to be able to schedule four nonconference games," said Montana Director of Athletics Kent Haslam. "The 2019 schedule gives us another all D-1 slate of games and an opportunity to test ourselves against a Pac-12 team at Oregon."
2014 was the last time the Grizzlies were able to schedule four nonconference games, opening the season at Wyoming then hosting Central Washington and South Dakota before finishing with a trip to Fargo to play North Dakota State.
North Dakota, who joined the Big Sky Conference in 2012, will move to the Midwest-based Summit League for most of its athletic programs in the 2018-19 season. The Hawks' football program will become a full member of the MVFC in 2020 and will continue to play a Big Sky schedule in the '18 and '19 seasons as an independent member, making them ineligible for a conference championship.
"Playing North Dakota in '24 and '25 allows us to rekindle a Big Sky rivalry while at the same time facing off against a program from the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which can be important come playoff time. It's also exciting for the fans from both institutions," added Haslam. "It may seem like a long way off, but that is the nature of football scheduling."
The Grizzlies are 14-8-1 all-time against North Dakota, and 3-1 since UND joined the Big Sky in 2012.
The 2024 and 2025 home-and-home series against UND are the first nonconference games on Montana's schedule in each of those seasons.
Montana opens the 2017 season at home on Sept. 2 against Valparaiso. Season tickets are available now at the Adams Center Box Office, or at Griztix.com. Single game tickets go on sale July 10 to Grizzly Scholarship Association members only, and to the general public on July 17.
Montana 2019 Nonconference Schedule
8.31.19 – South Dakota – Vermillion, S.D.
9.7.19 – North Alabama – Missoula, Mont.
9.14.19 – Oregon – Eugene, Ore.
9.21.19 – Monmouth – Missoula, Mont.