100117-mis-spt-griz-portland-05 (copy)

Montana's Jesse Sims, left, and Shayne Cochran tackle Portland State running back Jason Talley back in 2017.

MISSOULA — On paper, Saturday's homecoming football game between Montana and Portland State looks like a mismatch.

The 14th-ranked Griz (4-1 overall) are among three teams tied atop the Big Sky Conference standings with a 2-0 record. The Vikings (0-2, 1-4) are not. Sounds like a perfect homecoming opponent. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

This year marks the 99th homecoming football game in UM history, with last year's game being a 41-17 win over North Dakota.

Montana holds a 65-32-1 record on homecoming and a 29-3 record on homecoming since moving into Washington-Grizzly Stadium in 1986. 

"I'm excited for homecoming. This is always a big weekend for my family," Hauck, a third-generation Grizzly, said on Wednesday. "It's fun to be back here for it. I'm looking forward to seeing everybody Saturday. Hopefully we perform well enough to give all the alums that are back in town a win."

Here are several things to watch for:

Dante Olson

The junior linebacker has torn up offenses through the first five games of the season. There's no reason to believe he's going to stop now. 

Despite having only five career starts, the Medford, Oregon, product has won the Big Sky defensive player of the week award three times so far this year, including earlier this week after the Grizzlies downed Cal Poly, 48-28. 

Olson racked up 24 tackles in that contest, bringing his season total up to a FCS-leading mark of 79 tackles. 

The unofficial UM record is Tim Hauck's 25-tackle performance in 1989 against Fresno State.

The last player to rack up 20 or more tackles in a Griz uniform was Kendrick Van Ackeren, who had 20 tackles against Cal Poly in 2015. Van Ackeren currently holds Montana's single-season record for tackles with 130. Olson, with 79 tackles through five games, is currently on pace for 174 tackles. 

Will Olson hit his average of 15.8 tackles per game this week? We'll find out. 

Charlie Taumoepeau

Portland State tight end Charlie Taumoepeau is one of the best tight ends in the league. Taumopeau, a junior, was the Vikings' lone preseason All-Big Sky honoree. 

He's made 14 starts in his career and has played in 27 games for the Vikings. This season alone, he has 420 yards with a league-leading five receiving touchdowns.

"He's a good player. He looks the part, and he runs really well," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said of Taumoepeau. "For a tight end to have that much production shows how much ability he has."

Several of those 420 yards came in large chunks. He's had three catches this season that were longer than 70 yards — a 75-yard touchdown against FBS Nevada, a 71-yard touchdown against FBS Oregon and a 71-yard touchdown against College of Idaho. 

Because of that, Taumoepeau leads the FCS in yards per reception, averaging a whopping 28 yards every time he catches a pass. 

PSU's pass defense

Montana's pass-happy offense needs to watch out for Portland State's pass defense. The Vikings are fourth in the league in pass defense, holding teams to 227.6 yards passing per game. 

On the flip side, Montana averages 261 aerial yards per game, with quarterback Dalton Sneed hitting a season-high 285 yards passing last week. 

What side of the ball will come out victorious?

Far fewer whistles

Montana racked up the penalties earlier this season and at one point was near the top of the FCS in both penalties and penalty yardage.  

Montana is now in the middle of the road — No. 76 in penalties and No. 81 in penalty yardage — in those categories.

The Grizzlies have whipped into shape recently, only being flagged thrice against Cal Poly (delay of game on a PAT, false start on Matt Rensvold, pass interference against Olson) and thrice against Sacramento State (illegal block on Vika Fa'atuiese, pass interference on Justin Calhoun, holding on Lamarriel Taylor).

Will this trend continue?


In addition to those things, here are five key stats to know:

30-12: Montana leads the all-time series with Portland State, 30-12. Montana won last season, 45-33, but lost the game before that in 2015, 35-16.

52: Junior linebacker Dante Olson only needs 52 more tackles this season to break the UM record for most tackles in a season. Olson already has 79 this year.

84: Hauck has 84 career wins at Montana. A win over Portland State will tie Hauck with Don Read's program record of 85.

99: A win over Portland State would also move Hauck to 100 career wins as a head coach. 

595: Montana is gaining on the 600-wins mark in program history. The victory over Cal Poly gave the Grizzlies their 595th win since UM started football in 1897. The first win in program history was in 1897, when Montana beat Montana State, 18-6.

Sign up for our Cat-Griz Insider newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Amie Just covers Griz football and Missoula-area preps. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

Load comments