With the Grizzlies leading the South Dakota Coyotes by seven points, Jesse Spiers liked how things were shaping up for UM.

"Dalton's pretty amazing," the UM junior said of Griz quarterback Dalton Sneed. "I think we'll have a good year."

The stadium where the Griz were playing, the DakotaDome, was at half its normal capacity due to renovations, but Spiers said he didn't know anyone upset about the availability of tickets. He doesn't plan on traveling to any games this year, except maybe the Brawl of the Wild in Bozeman. And, said Press Box general manager Matt Warner, "Football's a TV sport."

"Football season's almost half our year business-wise," he said. During a home game, the bar and grill is "beyond belief packed." With an opening away game, "usually it's not crazy like a home game, but we're packed." Saturday's Press Box crowd was thinner, with slightly more than half the seats taken. Warner attributed that to the holiday weekend.

But the Press Box nonetheless had something to offer dozens of fans Saturday — and not just Griz fans. Mike and Patty Crome of Phoenix were passing through Missoula this weekend on the return leg of a road trip to Seattle. Patty's an alum of the University of Washington, and didn't want to miss the Huskies' Saturday game against Eastern Washington University. Before coming to the Press Box, she called to make sure it carried the Pac-12 Network.

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She was happy with the choice — and her team. As UW's Huskies thrashed the Eastern Washington University Eagles, she said she was "very optimistic" about their season.

But most eyes in the Press Box were on the Griz. "I think they have a pretty strong team," said Kellen Ward of Missoula. "They've got some work to do after last year for sure" — the Griz finished sixth in the Big Sky Conference — but Ward thinks that already, "they're better than last year."

"I look forward to every Saturday when the Griz are playing for sure," he added.

Ward might be right: Griz 31, South Dakota 17, final.

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