Montana Seeks First Ever Win on EWU’s Infamous Red Turf
When the Montana Grizzlies released their season schedule, fans knew the game at Eastern Washington would be a big one, but now it has gotten even bigger. The Griz are ranked number four in the nation and the Eagles are just below them at number six. The two undefeated juggernauts will battle it out under the lights this Saturday night at Roos Field in Cheney.
I can’t imagine what the crowd would be like if this game was being played in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, but we know the Griz fans in attendance will make their presence felt. For those of us who can’t attend the game in person, we have a unique opportunity in front of us.
Griz Hit the National Stage
A little over a week ago, ESPN announced that the broadcast of the game will be bumped up from ESPN U to ESPN 2, putting the Grizzlies in front of millions of fans on basic cable and satellite packages nationwide. The game marks the first time ever a regular season Big Sky Conference contest will be shown on the network.
This is HUGE for the Montana Grizzlies in more ways than one. National exposure can help recruitment a ton. If the Griz put on a good showing and get a win, I can guarantee that will help Coach Bobby Hauck the next time he sits in a parent’s living room and pitches coming to Missoula. Having the game on ESPN 2 will also help our current players when it comes to scouting. NFL scouts are constantly watching college games on TV to try to find the next big player for their respective teams.
Linebacker Leads the Way
One Griz player that has a chance to impress is junior linebacker Patrick O'Connell. He currently leads the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss. The Kalispell Glacier product who walked-on at Montana has tallied an FCS-best 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in just three games.
With all that being said, O’Connell and the Griz defense will face a very difficult Eagles offense Saturday night. The Eagles have scored 175 points in the past three games. Starting quarterback Eric Barriere has already thrown for almost 1,700 yards and has 16 touchdowns so far this season. The Eagles also lead the nation in total offense, averaging 632 yards per game.
However, the Eagles haven’t faced a defense as dominant as Montana’s yet this season. The Griz defense ranks top-three in the nation in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. They haven’t given up a passing touchdown yet this year and are allowing an average of just over 200 passing yards per game.
Red Turf Remains Undefeated
The Griz also enter the game holding the upper hand over EWU with a decisive 34-17 victory in Missoula the last time the two powerhouses met in 2019.
The Griz lead the all-time series with the Eagles 28-17-1 dating back to the first meeting in 1938, but only lead the series 11-10 in games played in Cheney or Spokane. However, the Griz have yet to emerge victorious on the Eagles' notorious red turf. The Griz are 0-5, including a pair of losses in 2014 when Montana fell in the regular season and in the FCS playoffs.
Those numbers won’t mean anything when feet hit the field Saturday night. Records go out the window when these two teams meet and I can’t wait to see what happens. Trust me, this is a game you won’t want to miss.