FCS Playoff Quarterfinal
The Matchup – No. 6 seed Montana (10-3, 6-2 Big Sky) at No. 3 seed Weber State (10-3, 7-1 Big Sky)
Kickoff – 10 p.m. ET Friday at Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah
Coverage – ESPN2
Series – Montana leads 40-15 (last meeting: Montana won 35-16 at home on Nov. 16)
Coaches – Montana: Bobby Hauck (96-25, nine seasons; 111-75 overall); Weber State: Jay Hill (46-29, six seasons)
3 Players to Watch – Montana: QB Dalton Sneed (257 of 309, 3,179 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs), RB Marcus Knight (1,261 scrimmage yards, 25 total TDs), LB Dante Olson (165 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2 takeaways, 2 forced fumbles); Weber State: QB Jake Constantine (184 of 291, 1,967 yards, 12 TDs, 10 INTs), RB Josh Davis (166 carries, 1,051 yards, 11 TDs), DE Jonah Williams (54 tackles, 6½ sacks, 2 fumble recoveries)
The Skinny – Montana cruised past Weber State last month when Sneed and WR Samori Toure combined for three TD passes and Knight rushed for two scores, but Weber went on to share the Big Sky title with Sacramento State and UM fell into a three-way tie for third. The visiting Griz, in starting their record 24th playoff appearance, hammered Southeastern Louisiana 73-28 in the second round as Toure set an FCS playoff record with 303 receiving yards (on 12 receptions with three TDs) and Knight scored four times to establish a UM single-season TDs record (25). Their defense has struggled against the pass, but it picked off Constantine three times in the regular-season win over Weber State. Olson, S Robby Hauck (125) and LB Jace Lewis (119) are all over 100 tackles, and they combined for 39 stops in the first meeting. While UM wins with a potent offense, Weber does the same with a tight defense, run game and special teams. Williams shared Big Sky defensive player of the year with Olson and combines with DE Adam Rodriguez and DT Jared Schiess on a physical defensive line. LBs Conner Mortensen (83) and Noah Vaea (80) are the tackle leaders. Weber ranks 10th in the FCS in time of possession (32:35) and held the ball for 34:35 in the first meeting with UM. Davis is backed by Kevin Smith (626 yards) in the run game, but it’s pivotal for Constantine to limit the turnovers. His favorite targets are WRs Devon Cooley (56 receptions, 691 yards, 5 TDs) and David Ames (49-620-3). Junior PK Trey Tuttle is 22 of 26 on field goals, and with 60 in his career, he is on pace to break the FCS all-time record, held by former Griz Dan Carpenter (75 from 2004-07).
Up Next – The winner will play either No. 2 seed James Madison (12-1) or Northern Iowa (10-4) in a national semifinal Dec. 21.
Prediction – What did Montana offensively in the first meeting and in its second-round playoff win suggests it’s too finetuned for Weber State to keep up with. Montana, 28-24.