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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