It's Friday Night Lights again for the fifth-ranked Montana Grizzlies, who will play their Football Championship Subdivision semifinal against top-ranked Sam Houston State Friday at 6 p.m. MST in Huntsville, Texas.
The game will be on ESPN.
Sam Houston State improved to 13-0 with a 49-13 thumping of Montana State Saturday morning in Huntsville. Friday will mark the Bearkats' second FCS semifinal appearance, and it's a rematch: Their first was in 2004 when they came to Missoula and lost 34-13 to the Grizzlies.
Earlier that '04 season Sam Houston beat Montana 41-29 in Huntsville. The Griz were ranked No. 1 at the time.
This will be the fifth meeting between the two teams, with three coming in the playoffs: They first met in a 2001 FCS quarterfinal game in Missoula (the Griz won 49-24) and then in the 2003 regular season in Missoula (UM won 38-14).
The Bearkats rushed for 428 yards Saturday against the Bobcats, and also returned a kickoff for a score to win their 16th straight game dating back to the 2010 season. That streak is the longest in the FCS, and their only real close games were a 48-45 overtime win at Bowl Subdivision program New Mexico, and a 34-27 first-round playoff win over Stony Brook on Dec. 3.
The Bearkats got the winning touchdown from Tim Flanders with 1:01 left in that game.
Montana has won nine straight and is 11-2 after thumping No. 2 Northern Iowa 48-10 Friday night in Missoula.
This will just the fourth road semifinal game for the Griz, who lost at Georgia Southern (45-15) in 1989 and at Youngstown State (28-9) in 1994, but won at unbeaten (and top-ranked) James Madison 35-27 in 2008.
The winner of Friday's game advances to the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Jan. 7, 2012, at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.