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Montana football players celebrate their 38-35 victory over North Dakota State on Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The Grizzlies came from behind to win against the four-time national champion Bison with only seconds left in front of a record stadium crowd and a national audience broadcast on ESPN.

TOM BAUER/Missoulian

With help from a record crowd to open the season, more fans watched Football Championship Subdivision action in Washington-Grizzly Stadium last year than anywhere else in the country.

For the second straight year, Montana led the FCS in home attendance, topping the nation in both total attendance and average per game. In seven games, including the Grizzlies' win over North Dakota State last August that drew 26,472 spectators, Montana packed its 25,217-seat stadium with a total of 168,975 fans for an average of 24,139 per game.

That's 362 more fans per game than in 2014 -- when UM averaged 23,777 -- and about 3,500 more than second-place Jacksonville State. It's also higher than 44 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Without Montana's home playoff game included, a win over South Dakota in front of 14,575 fans on Thanksgiving weekend, UM's average attendance balloons to 25,733.

The national runners-up Gamecocks drew 20,598 a contest during their eight home games. Yale came in at No. 3 close behind at 20,547 with James Madison in fourth at 19,498. The Dukes were second last year.

National champion North Dakota State was seventh at 18,497 just behind Liberty (18,990), which enjoyed a record crowd of 22,551 at Williams Stadium when the Griz visited last September.

Despite jumping more than 2,000 fans in average attendance from 2014 to '15, fellow Big Sky Conference program Montana State actually moved down in the rankings one spot to fifth. The Bobcats drew an average of 19,172 for six home games.

No other Big Sky team was in the top 25 with Eastern Washington checking in at 29th. The Eagles averaged 9,577 fans during their five-game home slate, almost 1,000 over their home Roos Field's listed capacity of 8,600.

Behind Eastern, the remaining Big Sky schools each averaged between 8,900 (Sacramento State) and 4,200 (Northern Colorado).

The Big Sky averaged just under 10,000 fans per game across its 13 teams, an average of 9,877 attending each of the 70 games contested in Big Sky stadiums in 2015. That ranked third among FCS conferences behind the Southwestern Athletic Conference (12,823) and the Missouri Valley Football Conference (10,916).

Montana's two-year run at the top follows the four-year rein of Appalachian State, which moved up to the FBS in 2014. The Griz were also first in 2009.

Michigan dethroned Ohio State atop the FBS charts, averaging 110,168 fans per game.

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