The No. 4 Montana Grizzlies start their 2011 FCS Playoffs aspirations with a chance to make the championship game for the third time in the last four years when they host a second round matchup against the Central Arkansas Bears. The Grizzlies lost the title game in 2008 and 2009 (Richmond and Villanova won, respectively). They also lost to James Madison in the 2004 title game and to Georgia Southern in 2000. But in 2001 the Grizzlies did defeat Furman for its second D-IAA/FCS championship (the other came in 1995 over Marshall. But Marshall returned the favor in 1996).
For the Grizzlies, the offense starts with quarterback Jordan Johnson who averages 179.2 yards in the air over 10 games and 15 touchdowns. The trio of Peter Nguyen (720 yards), Jordan Canada (498 yards, 5 TDs) and Dan Moore (7 TDs) lead the rushing attack. The Montana offense averages 32.5 points per game while the defense surrenders just 20.4 points.
The Montana pass defense gives up 198.5 yards and will need to stop quarterback Nathan Dick. Against Tennessee Tech in the first round, Dick completed 23-of-29 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Derrick Steele grabbed six of those passes for 97 yards. As The Sports Network points out, the Grizzlies are 17-1 all-time during the playoffs in December while at home.
Game time, date: 12:00 p.m. MT, Saturday, Dec. 3
Location: John Hoyt Field at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, Missoula, Mont.
TV & Streaming: ESPN GamePlan, ESPN3
Series Record: First meeting