Analysis

Lessons learned last season influence final two contests for Griz

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MISSOULA — The scenarios mirror each other in striking fashion.

Last season, Montana jolted out to a 5-1 start before a poor first-half performance on the road sparked a second-half tumble that left the Grizzlies outside of the playoff picture. UM’s 45-34 loss at Northern Arizona was the first of four losses in the final five games as a team once ranked in the Top 10 of the FCS experienced a free fall unfamiliar for a program draped in tradition.

In 2016, the Griz posted a 62-44 win at Idaho State to move to 6-3 before taking on Northern Colorado with the rivalry showdown against Montana State looming two weeks later. UM lost 28-25 at UNC before stamping the disappointing ending with a 24-17 loss to MSU at home to finish 6-5.

This season’s version of the Griz jolted to a 5-2 start, the losses at FBS No. 9 Washington and at home in their Big Sky Conference home opener against No. 11 Eastern Washington, 48-41. UM won three straight to move to 5-2 before a dismal first half doomed the Grizzlies in a 41-27 loss at No. 22 Weber State two weeks ago.

Like last season, the Griz rallied for a big win at home, this time toppling No. 9 Northern Arizona 17-15 despite using senior Makena Simis, UM’s starting H receiver and essentially its fourth-string quarterback, under center. Montana again faces a two-game stretch identical to last season aside from the locations of the games. The Griz host Northern Colorado for their home finale on Saturday before going to Bozeman for the rivalry game on November 18.

MISSOULA — The scenarios mirror each other in striking fashion.

Last season, Montana jolted out to a 5-1 start before a poor first-half performance on the road sparked a second-half tumble that left the Grizzlies outside of the playoff picture. UM’s 45-34 loss at Northern Arizona was the first of four losses in the final five games as a team once ranked in the Top 10 of the FCS experienced a free fall unfamiliar for a program draped in tradition.

In 2016, the Griz posted a 62-44 win at Idaho State to move to 6-3 before taking on Northern Colorado with the rivalry showdown against Montana State looming two weeks later. UM lost 28-25 at UNC before stamping the disappointing ending with a 24-17 loss to MSU at home to finish 6-5.

This season’s version of the Griz jolted to a 5-2 start, the losses at FBS No. 9 Washington and at home in their Big Sky Conference home opener against No. 11 Eastern Washington, 48-41. UM won three straight to move to 5-2 before a dismal first half doomed the Grizzlies in a 41-27 loss at No. 22 Weber State two weeks ago.

Like last season, the Griz rallied for a big win at home, this time toppling No. 9 Northern Arizona 17-15 despite using senior Makena Simis, UM’s starting H receiver and essentially its fourth-string quarterback, under center. Montana again faces a two-game stretch identical to last season aside from the locations of the games. The Griz host Northern Colorado for their home finale on Saturday before going to Bozeman for the rivalry game on November 18.

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About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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