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Members of 2001 Montana national championship team believe 2022 Griz capable of deep playoff run



Missoula, Montana – The Montana Grizzlies were just missing out on the FCS playoffs following a humiliating loss to Montana State.

But when the Griz heard their name announced during Sunday’s selection show, Montana supporters let out a collective sigh of relief after having previously held their breath.

Will Montana make it to the field? was replaced with the question, “How far can they go? “.

As of Friday afternoon, Southeast Missouri’s first-round opponent, Montana, was favored by a touchdown. A victory would earn a trip to Fargo to take on North Dakota State, the reigning FCS champion. The Bison have won nine of the last 11 FCS championships, but this season they dropped two games, and after the regular season several players entered the transfer portal.

So the Griz definitely has a chance of making a deep run.

We look to the last group of men to win a national championship at Montana, the 2001 Grizzly football team, for further information on their postseason chances.

“Obviously, (the 2022 team) is very lucky they have another game to play because you could start Monday and look at another team rather than live that game that they played last Saturday in Bozeman for a full year,” said former Griz quarterback John Edwards. “So they do have an opportunity for redemption. It’s a great thing to have something to turn your focus to and start moving on. So hopefully that is beneficial to them because those are hard losses to get over.”

The 2001 team would have some experience with difficult losses. Additionally, Montana made it to the 2000 national final, when they were defeated by Georgia Southern on a last-second touchdown. They put the disappointment of losing behind them and triumphed the next year. something the team this year will strive to accomplish in a lot less time.

“It’s really hard to get a national championship game. So there was nothing guaranteed and that was the end of the (2000) season. So we had a lot of time to think on it and work at it,” said former wide receiver TJ Oelkers. “Montana this year, they got six days to get ready and lick those wounds and come out playing on Saturday.”

Members of the 2001 championship squad think the Griz have a shot to compete in the postseason despite suffering four conference losses.

“You’ve made it to the playoffs and Montana has a puncher’s chance,” Oelkers said. “You know, I think they were third in the preseason. They have guys they were highly ranked. They had a great run to start the year.”

“And they’ve been there. They’ve done that. They’ve won big games. They’ve lost big games. But yeah, stay within yourselves and stay in your bubble and go to work,” Edwards said. “And maybe the ball starts bouncing your way a little bit more and a little luck can get you down the road a little bit.”


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