Bears Take On No. 2 Grizzlies in Hall of Fame Game
Nov. 8, 2006
Game No. 10 * Northern Colorado (1-8, 0-6 Big Sky)
vs. No. 2 Montana (8-1, 6-0 Big Sky)
Saturday, Nov. 11 * 12:05 p.m. MT
Nottingham Field (8,500) * Greeley, Colo.
• The University of Northern Colorado football team will look to build its momentum after taking a tough No. 19 Montana State team down to the wire last Saturday in Bozeman, Mont., before falling 13-10. The Bears will take on No. 2 Montana at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday at Nottingham Field. Northern Colorado is led by first-year head coach Scott Downing, who spent time as an assistant at Wyoming, Purdue and Nebraska. Montana is coached by Bobby Hauck, who is 38-12 in his fourth year. The Grizzlies lead the series 5-1. The game will be broadcast live on 1310-AM KFKA in Greeley and 1510-AM KYOL in Denver. Troy Coverdale handles play-by-play and Chris Ott serves as the color analyst. The broadcast begins at 10:05 a.m. with the Tailgate Show and continues at 11:05 a.m. with the pregame show.
• The game is the annual Hall of Fame Game. Seven individuals and two teams will be inducted into the Northern Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday at a banquet. All of the inductees will be honored at halftime, including former head football coach Joe Glenn and the 1996 Division II National Championship Football team.
• Northern Colorado is 1-8 overall and 0-7 in the Big Sky Conference this season. The Bears have struggled against BSC opponents this year, being outscored 173-56. However, the Bears have kept it close in their past two conference games, losing 14-9 at Sacramento State and falling 13-10 at No. 19 Montana State. Northern Colorado has been able to hold the ball longer, holding the time of possession advantage by 18:50.
• Montana is 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the Big Sky Conference. The Grizzlies are currently ranked No. 2 in both the Sports Network and CSN Coaches polls. Montana's lone loss came in the first game of the season to then Top 20 I-A team Iowa with a 41-7 loss. If Montana can get past Northern Colorado and then archrival Montana State the following week, it would finish undefeated in conference play for the first time since 2001 when the Grizzlies won the I-AA National Championship with former Bears coach Joe Glenn at the helm. It would also be the first time in Montana head coach Bobby Hauck's career he has finished with an unblemished Big Sky record.
GAME NINE RECAP
• The Bears held tough in a grind-it-out battle with No. 19 Montana State in a 13-10 loss last week in Bozeman. Despite a grueling 11-plus hour bus trip to Bozeman, Northern Colorado was with Montana State blow for blow. The Bears outgained the Bobcats on offense, 309-294, and forced two MSU interceptions.
• David Dyches converted on a season-long 48-yard field goal. With the conversion, he has made four of his last four attempts.
• With redshirt freshman quarterback Brian Wiedeman not making the trip due to injury, sophomore T.J. Swanson made his return under center for Northern Colorado after junior quarterback Dominic Breazeale went down with an injury in the third quarter. Swanson finished 9-of-17 for 115 yards with one touchdown.
• Senior wide receiver Robert Long pulled in two receptions for 51 yards and snagged the only Bears touchdown of the game on a 40-yarder from T.J. Swanson. It was his first touchdown in a Bears uniform.
• The Montana State Athletic Department held a moment of silence former Bears great running back Adam Matthews, who died suddenly at the age of 25 last Thursday morning. MSU also honored longtime supporter Bill Ogle, Jr., who was also lost.
• Northern Colorado dropped to 9-13-1 all-time against Montana State
• The Bears outgained their opponent for the third time this season. They have an 0-3 record when that occurs.
• Junior defensive tackle Vinny Pallone recorded his first sack of the season.
• The crowd of 13,177 was the largest the Bears have played in front of this season.
• Freshman defensive back Korey Askew pulled in his second interception of the season.
• Junior defensive back Aaron Henderson snagged his third interception of the year.
WELCOME BACK '96 BEARS AND 2006 HALL OF FAME CLASS
• The 1996 National Championship football team, coached by Joe Glenn and captain by Tom Beck and Brian Munroe, will be honored at halftime as part of the 2006 Northern Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame Class. Along with the football team, Glenn, multi-sport athlete (baseball/basketball) and current Denver-area radio/TV personality Irv Brown (1954-57), basketball player Shelley (Lindstrom) Johnson (1988-92), multi-sport athlete (baseball/basketball) Dave Keller (1979-82) who is now a minor league hitting instructor with the Chicago Cubs, baseball player Jim Lochner (1959-62), volleyball player Tatjana (Smith) Sanders (1993-95) and track and field athlete Nancy (Weber) Sylvester (1994-97) will be honored.
GRIZZLIES HIGHEST RANKED I-AA OPPONENTS IN BEARS HISTORY
• Montana comes into the game ranked No. 2 in both the Sports Network and CSN Coaches polls. It is the highest ranked opponent Northern Colorado has ever faced since making the jump to the Championship Subdivision.
HALL OF FAME CELEBRATION LATEST IN BEARS HISTORY
• This year's Hall of Fame celebration is the latest in Northern Colorado history. Since the inception of the Hall of Fame in 1994, the celebration has been held in conjunction with the first home game of the season. This year, the game was moved back originally to Nov. 18 against Northern Arizona, but then was moved to the game against Montana to accomodate Coach Joe Glenn and his staff, who have a game Thursday against UNLV.
WILSON CLOSES IN ON NO. 2 ALL-TIME
• Senior running back Andre Wilson needs just 36 yards on the ground to move ahead of the late, great Adam Matthews for No. 2 all-time on the Northern Colorado rushing list. In order to surpass Billy Holmes atop the list, Wilson needs to average 115 yards in Northern Colorado's final two games.
STARTING QUARTERBACK NOT SETTLED
• Sophomore T.J. Swanson stepped in for starting junior quarterback Dominic Breazeale after he went down with a knee injury in the third quarter against Montana State last week. Swanson, who has spent the entire season at wide receiver after being move in fall camp, was cast into the backup role because of a head injury to Brian Wiedeman against Sacramento State. The starter has still not been decided for this week's matchup against Montana because all three are still recovering from injury.
WILSON SETS NEW RECORD WHILE REACHING NEW MILESTONE AGAINST HORNETS
• Senior running back Andre Wilson set a new Northern Colorado record with 37 carries against Sacramento State. His 141 yards on the ground moved him past Gaynor Blackmon for No. 3 all-time in career rushing yards with 3,256.
EALY BREAKS RUNNING BACK RECORD
• Sophomore running back Patrick Ealy currently leads the team in receptions with 37, which breaks a Northern Colorado record for most catches by a running back in a season. The last time a running back finished the season leading the team in receptions was 1996, when Billy Holmes pulled in 34 catches.
BALL CONTROL OFFENSE
• Although they are 1-8 this season, Northern Colorado has held the ball longer than its opponents in four games this season. In those four games (Texas State, Western Illinois and Weber State), the Bears have held the ball 36:50 longer.
WINNING THE PENALTY BATTLE
• Northern Colorado has been down some statistical categories this season, but penalties is not one of the them. The Bears have committed 51 penalties for 418 yards, while their opponents have had 79 penalties for 645 yards.
MENDOZA MAKES HIS VALIANT RETURN
• Junior punter Rafael Mendoza made his return to the playing field just two weeks after encountering a stab wound to his kicking leg. Mendoza had a season-long 58-yard punt against Western Illinois and finished with a 38.9 average and one inside the 20.
WEST GRABS FIRST BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR
• Senior defensive Matt West was named the Big Sky Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday, Sept. 18, for his performance against Texas State last Saturday. West scored Northern Colorado's game-winning touchdown when he scooped up a blocked punt and returned it five yards to the end zone. It was the Bears' first conference player of the week honors in the Big Sky.
• The Bears' game against Texas State on Sept. 16 marked the first time Northern Colorado has not committed any turnovers this season. In the Bears' previous two games, they had turned the ball over nine times, resulting in 59 points for their opponents. Northern Colorado forced two turnovers against Texas State, marking the first time this season they had a positive turnover margin.
NOT IN BAD COMPANY
• Although head coach Scott Downing lost his first game at the helm of the Bears, he's not in bad company. Legendary coach Bob Blasi, who has the most victories in Northern Colorado history with 107, lost his very first game as head coach of the Bears in 1966 in a 27-12 loss to South Dakota. Blasi, a member of the Northern Colorado Athletics Hall of Fame, led the Bears to six conference championships in his 19 years.
BIG SKY'S NEW BEAR
• Northern Colorado officially joins the I-AA powerhouse Big Sky Conference this year and in 2007 will be eligible for the conference title and postseason play. The move makes the Big Sky a nine-team league. It is the first time since 1996 that the Big Sky has had nine teams. That year, Boise State and Idaho left for the Western Athletic Conference, while Portland State, Sacramento State and Cal State-Northridge joined. Cal State-Northridge left in 2001 after dropping its football program.
BEARS ON THE TUBE
• All home and conference games will be featured on BigSkyTV.org, which is a web site that streams video for football, men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball. All games taking place in a Big Sky venue will be available. For $59, fans can watch all Northern Colorado events for the year. To watch all conference events for the year, it costs $99.
HOW NC FARED IN BIG SKY POLLS
• The Bears were chosen by both the media and coaches to finish ninth in the Big Sky Conference. Montana was chosen by both the media and coaches to win the conference.
• Head coach Scott Downing has instilled many new traditions this season, and one of them is playing maestro. After every home victory, the Bears will go directly to the band and lead the playing of the fight song.
IN A NEW SKIN
• The Bears showed off their new uniforms designed by New Balance on Media Day, Aug. 19. The home uniforms will be blue with big, white number and gold and white sleeve stripes. They will also have the traditional gold pants. The road uniforms will have blue numbers and blue and gold sleeve stripes. The Bears will also be wearing blue pants, which is believed to be the first time they have done so in the program's history.
Andy Birkel OUT FOR SEASON
• Andy Birkel has been out of practice since encountered season-ending knee injury in a scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 19. Birkel had surgery on Wednesday, Sept. 6 to fix the damage and will begin rehabilitation soon. He is hoping to be back in time for spring practice.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
• This year's Bears team will be stacked with youth. There are 54 underclassmen compared to 27 upperclassmen. • 21 True Freshmen
• 15 Redshirt Freshmen
• 18 Sophomores
• 11 Juniors
• 16 Seniors
• Many of the seniors on this season's squad have seen every level of Northern Colorado transition to Division I. For the fifth-year seniors, it is the fourth conference situation they have been in. In 2002, the Bears were in the Division II North Central Conference. In 2003, the Bears were a I-AA Independent. In 2004 and 2005, Northern Colorado was in the Great West Football Conference. And this year, the Bears are in the Big Sky.
DYCHES DECLARED ELIGIBLE BY THE NCAA
• Senior placekicker David Dyches was declared eligible to compete in 2006 by the NCAA on Friday, Aug. 25. He had encountered transfer roadblocks after enrolling at Nebraska last spring and transferring to Northern Colorado this fall. The Northern Colorado Administration filed a waiver, and it was approved. Dyches was a Freshman All-American at Nebraska, tying the Huskers freshman record on field goals with 14 in 2003. It tied current Seattle Seahawks kicker Josh Brown. Dyches is currently listed as No. 1 on the depth chart.
2006 SCHEDULE TOUGHEST IN BEARS' I-AA HISTORY
• This season's schedule could prove to be the toughest in Bears' I-AA history. Four of the teams (No. 21 UC Davis, No. 18 Texas State, No. 22 Montana State, No. 3 Montana) were ranked in the preseason by The Sports Network. Eight of the teams received votes or are ranked in various preseason publications and web sites, including Portland State (No. 25 in Lindy's), Weber State, Idaho State (No. 23 by the SportsNetwork.com) and Eastern Washington (No. 23 by AnyGivenSaturday.com).
THE NOTTINGHAM SHERIFFS
• Northern Colorado has been close to unstoppable at Nottingham Field in its 11-year history, compiling a 56-15 overall record and a 37-9 conference record. The Bears went 4-1 at home last season, with the only downfall being a 31-14 to 2005 I-AA semifinalist Cal Poly. The Bears' only sub-.500 season at Nottingham came in 2004, when they went 2-4.
• Built in 1995 for a cost of $4 million, the field is named after Vic Nottingham, who is a local businessman and longtime supporter, alum and longtime booster. He was the co-chair of the committee that successfully raised funds for the stadium.
DOWNING TO BE FEATURED ON NEW CALL-IN RADIO SHOW
• Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. during the football season, head coach Scott Downing will be featured on the Coors Light Northern Colorado Coaches Show on 1310-AM KFKA. This season, the format has been changed to a live, in-studio call-in show and will run for an hour. Fans can call in at (970) 353-1310 or 1-888-353-1310. They can also e-mail questions to email@example.com.
DOWNING NAMES 2006 CAPTAINS
• Head coach Scott Downing named the 2006 captains on Saturday, Aug. 26. Senior safety Matt Thomas and senior running back Andre Wilson will lead the Bears through the tunnel.
• Montana has been on a roll with an eight-game win streak. They are coming off a thrilling last second 10-9 win over Cal Poly last week in Missoula. The Grizzlies began the season with a 41-7 loss to then-Top 20 I-A team Iowa, but haven't looked back since. After their loss to the Hawkeyes, the Grizzlies dropped to No. 5 in the polls, but they soon recovered and made it back to second. Montana is led by quarterback Josh Swogger, who averaged 202 yards through the air and has nine touchdowns to his credit.