MISSOULA — Montana jumped up five spots from No. 9 to No. 4 in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 and received the third-most first-place votes following its 13-7 upset victory against FBS No. 20 Washington.
"We’re real pleased with the win over Washington," UM coach Bobby Hauck said. "It’s a huge, huge win. It’s recognized nationally as a huge, huge win. So, I’m very pleased for Montana. It was good in a lot of ways."
Remaining at No. 1 from the preseason poll was defending national champion Sam Houston, which got 1,212 points and 32 of the 50 first-place votes for its 42-16 win over Northern Arizona. South Dakota State jumped from No. 3 to No. 2 with 1,185 points and 11 first-place votes after a 42-23 win over FBS Colorado State.
James Madison dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 with 1,150 points and two first-place votes, three fewer than UM, after a 68-10 win over Morehead State. Montana received 1,087 points and five first-place votes. North Dakota State dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 with 1,050 points and zero first-place votes.
It's the first time UM is ranked ahead of North Dakota St in the Top 25 since Nov. 23, 2010, ending a streak of 142 consecutive polls. The Griz were No. 15 in that poll, the final one of the regular season, while the Bison were 25. NDSU made the FCS playoff quarterfinals and was No. 9 in the next poll, the postseason poll. UM missed the playoffs and ended the season No. 20.
The Griz are the highest ranked of the five Big Sky teams that made the Top 25, with all of them landing in the top 14. Eastern Washington jumped from No. 11 to No. 7 after its 35-33 double-overtime win against FBS UNLV. Weber State fell from No. 6 to No. 10 after a 40-17 loss to FBS Utah.
Montana State rose No. 12 to No. 11 after losing to FBS Wyoming, 19-16. UC Davis jumped from No. 23 to No. 14 after a 19-17 win over FBS Tulsa. Sacramento State was in the Others Receiving Votes category and would've been 29th if the poll extended that far.
Montana was named the Stats Perform FCS national team of the week for its victory over Washington. Other teams receiving consideration were UC Davis, South Dakota State, Holy Cross and East Tennessee State, which all beat FBS teams, as well as Austin Peay.
The Griz were also named the FCS co-team of the week in the Athlon FCS Power Poll, sharing the honor with Big Sky foe UC Davis.
Montana junior linebacker Marcus Welnel was named the Big Sky defensive player of the week for the first time in his career. The Helena Capital grad totaled a game-high 12 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack. He sealed the victory with an interception in the final minute, which was shown from multiple angles during Griz highlights on ESPN's SportsCenter and College Football Final.
"It was definitely one of the coolest experiences of my life, you know, winning that game," Welnel said. "Seeing the Griz in the media all weekend long, it’s cool. It’s good for the Griz to be back like that. It’s exciting."
Montana redshirt freshman Brian Buschini was selected as the Big Sky co-special teams player of the week for the first time in his career. The Helena Capital grad flipped the field by averaging 47 yards on seven punts, forcing five fair catches and placing three punts inside the 20-yard line.
Montana coach Bobby Hauck was going to get a $75,000 bonus for playing an FBS team whether the Griz won or lost at Washington. But it probably feels sweeter to collect that after a win in which the Griz were paid $675,000 for what UW seemingly thought would be a tune-up game before facing Michigan this week.
Hauck's previous contract called for a $15,000 for playing an FBS team and $10,000 for beating an FBS team, for a total of $25,000. Those terms changed when he signed a new contract in February 2020 with a base salary of $205,000.
Under Hauck's new contract, all of UM's assistant football coaches, as well as the strength and conditioning coach, get a $2,500 bonus for playing an FBS team.
Frank Gogola covers Griz football and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.