UND, Montana meet for the first time as conference opponentsGRAND FORKS — For University of North Dakota football coaches, players and fans, one date on the 2012 calendar has been circled more than others. That circled date is today, Oct. 20.
By: Wayne Nelson , Forum Communications
GRAND FORKS — For University of North Dakota football coaches, players and fans, one date on the 2012 calendar has been circled more than others.
That circled date is today, Oct. 20.
Today, Montana — the most recognized football program in the Big Sky Conference — will play UND in the Alerus Center, a game both programs need to win to maintain thoughts of a winning season and a remote shot at postseason play.
Nearly two years ago, the Big Sky Conference announced it would add UND. And since that date, North Dakota has anticipated regular showdowns with its next door neighbor — the one that has raised the bar not only in the Big Sky but in the FCS as well.
“There is a lot of talk about this game,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “Our fans and our alums circled this game a long time ago.”
Both teams are 1-3 in the league and 3-4 overall.
For UND, its record isn’t a shock, considering it’s the Green and White’s first go-around in the league. For Montana, a 3-4 record is stunning, considering the Grizzlies have won or shared the Big Sky title in 13 of the last 14 years.
“We’re both desperate for a win,” Mussman said.
Montana will be playing in Grand Forks for the first time since 1973.
There has been some recent history, however, as UND played at Montana in 2010, losing 27-17.
“It was a great atmosphere out there in 2010,” Mussman said. “We’re hoping to reciprocate that (today).”
Today’s game is expected to draw more than 10,000 fans and will be the league’s game of the week on ROOT Sports. Montana, a program that always has had support on the road, is expected to have nearly 1,000 fans at the Alerus.
It’s also a “black out” game as UND is encouraging fans to wear black in support of the team’s new all-black jerseys.
Both teams will be looking to finish today
Montana, which had No. 1 Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona on the ropes earlier this season, has been outscored 62-45 in the fourth quarter.
UND led both No. 12 Cal Poly and No. 15 Northern Arizona in the second half at home before squandering the leads.
“As good as the Big Sky Conference is, if you can put your team in a position to win in the fourth quarter, then you’re on the right track,” said Montana coach Mick Delaney.
UND offensive coordinator Greg Breitbach has a Montana background, playing collegiately at Montana Western from 1991-92.
His coach at Montana Western? Mick Delaney, who took over the Montana program earlier this year.
Breitbach has a ton of respect for Delaney.
“Mick is a guy who respects everybody,” Breitbach said. “It doesn’t matter what capacity anyone is in. He treats everyone with importance. From the freshman, to the fifth-year senior to everyone that is involved with the program, he treats everyone with respect.
“He was pretty diligent with us as players. He expected a lot from us. He was sharp with his discipline but he was very fair.”
The two coaches have kept in touch since their Montana Western days.
“Mick helped me out a couple of times with the Big Sky teams we were playing,” Breitbach said. “It’ll be great to see him again. But on game day, obviously we’re out to beat each other.”
Montana is expected to be without running back Dan Moore today. Moore, a senior, has rushed for 406 yards this season. He suffered a high-ankle sprain Sept. 29 against Eastern Washington … UND’s injury update: defensive lineman Ross Brenneman is doubtful with a knee injury; Garrison Goodman (linebacker) also is doubtful with a foot injury; Damon Andrews (linebacker) is out but Myles Jablonski (linebacker) is expected to play after missing last week … Montana and Holy Cross are the only two FCS teams in the country that have yet to stop an opponent inside their own red zone … 1992 is the last time the Griz started the season with a losing record (1-5). Montana, however, won its last five games to finish 6-5. Montana’s last losing season came in 1985 … Next week, UND plays at No. 5 Montana State. “This is going to be a physical stretch for us,” Mussman said … Montana leads the all-time series against UND 11-7-1.