Montana’s win that sent shockwaves through the FBS

Montana quarterback Cam Humphrey lets out a yell as he celebrates with teammates after they beat No. 20 Washington in a game Saturday in Seattle. Montana won 13-7.

They happen every year — “body bag” games where FCS teams are paid six figures to go on the road to face daunting foes in the FBS.

One program gets a big payday, the other gets an easy win and everyone is happy.

But every few years, one of these games results in a major upset that rocks the college football world.

This year’s edition of David-takes-down-Goliath came when the Montana Grizzlies on Sept. 4 strolled into Husky Stadium and crumpled the No. 20 Washington Huskies, 13-7.

It was the first victory for an FCS team against a ranked FBS team in five years.

Coincidentally, it was also Montana’s first FBS victory since defeating Idaho 41-28 in 2003.

The No. 11 Grizzlies (4-2, 1-2 Big Sky) and Vandals (2-4, 1-2) will kickoff at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Kibbie Dome.

That upset in Seattle was one not many will soon forget.

A defensive slugfest, Montana trailed 7-3 heading into the fourth quarter before delivering 10 points in the final frame to take the lead.

Grizzlies quarterback Cam Humphrey scored on a 4-yard run early in the fourth quarter, and UM kicker Kevin Macias added a short field goal with 2:54 left to stretch the advantage to six points.

The 61,000 fans in attendance watched in shock as UW quarterback Dylan Morris’ pass was intercepted by Marcus Welnel with 31 seconds left, signaling celebration time on the Montana sideline.

Montana coach Bobby Hauck rightfully called the victory the “biggest win of my coaching career.”

“This isn’t Bemidji State now. This is the Washington Huskies. OK, uncommon. This is App State over Michigan. Make no mistake on that,” Hauck said after the game.

The game Hauck referred to is of course the 2007 classic between Appalachian State and No. 5 Michigan in The Big House. The Mountaineers rocked the heavily favored Wolverines 34-32 with a series of memorable special teams and offensive heroics in a game that set the standard for FCS upsets of ranked FBS powers.

Add the Griz to that list. Not too shabby for a 22.5-point underdog receiving a $675,000 paycheck.

Montana was understandably riding high after its biggest victory outside of a pair of FCS national titles. But the Grizzlies have lost some steam in recent weeks in Big Sky play.

The hype has quieted a bit as the Griz are losers of two of their last three games, including a 28-21 loss last week to Sacramento State.

Their conference record is identical to Idaho’s — a team that just fell by 50 points to No. 2 Eastern Washington.

Montana’s struggles lately are indicative of the parity this season in the BSC.

Then-winless Idaho State pulled off an upset of then-No. 7 UC Davis on Oct. 9. And Weber State, a preseason Top 10 team, is 1-2 in conference play and 2-4 overall.

The Grizzlies will be eager to get back on track in a rivalry showdown for the Little Brown Stein — a trophy that’s stayed in Missoula for more than two decades.

“We’re disappointed with not getting the win on Saturday and of course a bit frustrated with that loss,” Hauck said. “We need to move forward against Idaho, who’s our second-oldest rival.”

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, swiebe@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.

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