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Not Just Hype - Griz at App
Montana will travel more than 2,000 miles to play at Appalachian State on Saturday night in what is being billed as one of the most anticipated match-ups in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision history.
Judging from resumes, it’s not just hype.
ASU and Montana have won more games than any other FCS programs over the past seven seasons — the Mountaineers have 79 victories, the Grizzlies 78.
The programs have combined to win five national titles and have made a combined 40 playoff appearances. The Grizzlies have had 26 straight winning seasons, and the Mountaineers have had winning seasons 26 of the past 27 years.
The programs have met twice, both times in the FCS playoff semifinals on cold and snowy days in Missoula, Mont., in games that went to the wire. The Grizzlies won both, 19-16 in overtime in 2000 and 24-17 in 2009 in a game that wasn’t decided until the final play.
It’s a regular-season matchup that makes sense and draws interest, athletics director Charlie Cobb of ASU said.
Cobb and Jim O’Day, the former athletics director at Montana, scheduled the game about four years ago.
“We had always talked about, as members of the FCS committee, one of the things that we needed to do to elevate the brand of FCS football is that we all need to play each other and create some inter-regional games of national interest outside of conference play,” Cobb said.
“Appalachian and Montana seemed to be a natural rivalry, even though we’re not geographically close to each other, so we decided to put our money where our mouth was and play the game.
“They’re coming here, and then we’re going there next year to start the season.”
Over the past six seasons, ASU and Montana have led all FCS programs in home-game attendance three times. Last season, ASU had the highest regular-season attendance average of 28,031. Montana was second at 25,662.
“Both of the previous match-ups were in Missoula, so for us it is important to have the Montana folks to come play in Boone,” Cobb said. “It’s really about two programs, even though we’re not in the same geographic footprint, where there’s a lot of comparison…. This is one of the games that fans really want to see their team play.”
From the players’ perspective, there is anticipation of a big-game atmosphere.
“When I first heard that the game was scheduled, I was excited,” said punter Sam Martin of ASU, a fifth-year senior and one of a few current players who played in the 2009 game. “Those guys, year in and year out, have great athletes, they’re coached well and play extremely hard. It’s a great FCS matchup.”
Linebacker Brandon Grier of the Mountaineers said: “I remember it was a great atmosphere when we played them there. They are a great team, and they got us the last time. I’m looking forward to them coming here. It’s a night game, our first home game this season. It’s going to be a great game.”
Brock Coyle, a Montana linebacker who played in the 2009 game and, like most of his teammates will be making his first trip to North Carolina, said: “This will be a big-time game between two FCS powerhouse programs. Our stadium really had a big-time feel to it when we played them. ESPN was there, and it really had a different feel to it. We’re excited for the opportunity to go there and play.”
By: TOMMY BOWMAN, Winston-Salem Journal