Montana vs. Washington College Football Odds & Pick: Find Betting Value on Total in Seattle (Sept. 4)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Coach Jimmy Lake and Dylan Morris.
- The Washington Huskies and Montana Grizzlies kick off their 2021 seasons.
- The Huskies played only four games last year, and are looking to win the Pac-12 North for the fifth time in six seasons.
- Check out Alex Hinton's full betting guide with odds, picks and predictions for the game.
Montana vs. Washington Betting Odds
As one of the later games on the Saturday slate, the Montana Grizzlies will travel to Seattle to battle the Washington Huskies. It is a matchup of two of the top programs in the Northwest at their respective levels.
Montana head coach Bobby Hauck is in his second stint with the program. Thus far, his first stint was more successful, as the Grizzlies won at least a share of the Big Sky Conference in each of his seven seasons.
He also took the Grizzlies to the then-NCAA Division I-AA Football championship game three times, losing all three. Hauck also has a history with Washington as he served as the Huskies defensive backs and special teams coach before returning to take the head coaching job at his alma mater in 2003.
Washington has won the Pac-12 North title four times in the last five years, including outright conference titles in 2016 and 2018. The high point came in 2016 when Washington made its only appearance in the College Football Playoff. Last season, COVID-19 complications denied the Huskies an opportunity to win the Pac-12 again last season.
Montana and Washington last met in 2017, ending a 63-7 Washington victory.
Hauck is 98-26 in his career at Montana: 80-17 in his first stint and 18-9 since returning. After a 6-5 record in 2018, Hauck followed that up with a 10-4 record in 2019. It is beginning to appear that Hauck is starting to get the program back to the level he had it at during his first tenure.
The Grizzlies played just two games in the spring 2021 season after they opted out of the Big Sky Conference season. However, it won both games by a combined margin of 107-10. Montana enters 2021 as the preseason No. 9 team in the FCS rankings.
Montana named redshirt senior Cam Humphrey as its starter over redshirt freshman Kris Brown during fall camp, and he enters 2021 with a 5-0 record as a starting quarterback. In his career, he has thrown for 13 touchdown passes against just three interceptions, while completing 62% of his passes.
Humphrey will get his top receiver back in the two-time All-Big Sky Samuel Akem. The 6-foot-4 Akem has 22 touchdown passes in his career, and he could find himself as an NFL prospect next spring. He leads a strong receiving corps that also includes Mitch Roberts, Ryan Simpson and Malik Flowers, who are all above 6-foot-1.
The Grizzlies are a bit banged up in the backfield entering the season. FCS All-American running back Marcus Knight suffered an injury in the spring and is out indefinitely.
Nick Ostmo started in the spring, but he is out this week too. True freshman Xavier Harris ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns in the spring and will get the start. Akron transfer Isiah Childs is the No. 2 back on the depth chart.
Montana returns three starters on the offensive line, with left tackle Conlan Beaver as the anchor of the group. He is a preseason All-Big Sky selection, and the redshirt senior has 24 career starts back under his belt. Left guard Hunter Mayginnes transferred in from Arizona State and center AJ Forbes transferred in after walking on at Nebraska.
Montana does not have a typical FCS offensive line, as all five starters are listed over 300 pounds. In 2019, the Grizzles struggled with pass protection, allowing 38 sacks in 14 games.
Montana’s defense was dominant in the two games it played in the spring, surrendering 10 points in two games, while allowing an average of 235.5 yards per game. It also forced four turnovers but only had one sack in the two games. Back in 2019, the Grizzlies had 25 turnovers and 34 sacks.
The Grizzlies return plenty of experience from the 2019 season and all 11 defensive starters from the spring. The Grizzlies run a 3-3-5 and do not have defensive linemen that weigh 300 pounds. It does have a pair of FBS transfers at defensive end in Justin Belknap (Arizona) and Joe Babros (North Carolina State). Eli Alford and Alex Gubner will rotate at nose tackle.
Jace Lewis and Patrick O’Connell return as starters from 2019, and Marcus Welnel joins them after starting both games in the spring. Lewis is a preseason All-Big Sky selection and had 131 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2019. O’Connell led the team in 2019 with 6.5 sacks.
Montana’s secondary figures to be the strength of its defense. It has a mix of talent and veteran experience and is led by safety Robby Hauck. Hauck is another preseason All-Big Sky selection after tallying 129 tackles, three sacks and one interception in 2019.
Jimmy Lake’s debut season as head coach probably did not go as planned after he was able to coach only four games because of COVID-19. However, his team did win the Pac-12 North, and this year it will go for a conference title.
The Huskies enter the year ranked No. 21 in the AP Top 25 and No. 20 in the Coaches Poll. The Huskies rank 22nd in Offensive TARP and 26th in Defensive TARP.
One positive from the Huskies shortened season in 2020 was allowing redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris to gain starting experience. Morris played the role of a game manager in 2020, completing 61% of his passes, throwing for 897 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
However, Washington fans will be calling for five-star true freshman Sam Huard. Last season Washington used four running backs, but Cam Davis and Richard Newton emerged as the top two in fall camp.
Washington lost its top two receivers Puka Nacua and Ty Jones to the transfer portal. Terrell Bynum, Ja’Lynn Polk and Rome Odunze will start on the perimeter. Jalen McMillan was expected to be a starter, but he suffered a right-hand injury in fall camp. Polk transferred in from Texas Tech, while Giles Jackson transferred in from Michigan and is a dangerous return man.
Morris will have two of the things any quarterback would ask for in a great tight end and an excellent offensive line. Tight end Cade Otton caught 18 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns.
Washington returns all five starters from an offensive line that only allowed one sack and 10 tackles for loss last season. Left tackle Jaxson Kirkland is the standout and projected as a top-10 pick at the moment.
When Jimmy Lake was promoted to head coach after Chris Petersen stepped down, it elevated Pete Kwiatkowski to defensive coordinator. However, he left for the same role at Texas. Washington named Bob Gregory as its new defensive coordinator, and he will keep the same scheme.
The two starting down lineman for Washington are Tuli Letuligasenoa and Taki Taimani, and when it wants a third, Faatui Tuitele will rotate in. The Huskies will be without linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui to begin the season after he tore his Achilles in the spring.
The Huskies return sixth-year senior linebacker Ryan Bowman, who was a Pac-12 selection in 2019. Cooper McDonald will start at the other outside linebacker spot. Inside linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio led the team in tackles a year ago with 47, while fellow starter Jacob Sirmon was second with 27.
In the secondary, Washington must replace standouts Keith Taylor and Elijah Molden along with its starting safeties, but the unit should remain strong. Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon form one of the best cornerback duos in the country.
Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles transfers in from Oklahoma and will start in the nickel. Julius Irvin and Kamren Fabiculanan won starting jobs at safety after intense camp battles. Washington has been top 15 in coverage every year since 2015, and there are no signs that will fall off this year.
Montana vs. Washington Betting Pick
Montana likes to sling the ball around the yard after averaging nearly 40 passing attempts and over 300 yards per game in 2019. However, Washington has the defensive personnel to shut down a strong passing attack both with its pass rush and in the secondary.
Conversely, Washington will have a big advantage with its offensive line going up against Montana’s undersized defensive line. That is likely music to the ears of Washington offensive coordinator John Donovan. Donovan is one of the most conservative offensive coordinators and will run it until his team is absolutely forced to put the ball the air.
Washington also has a big game against Michigan next week. It will not have much reason to open up its offense much, particularly after breaking in a new set of receivers.
Washington will shut down Montana’s offense, and it should open up a big lead by the second half. That will allow Donovan to call run play after run play, bleed the clock, get out of dodge and get ready for Michigan.
With that in mind, I would recommend taking under 54.5 at a price of -120 or better. I would play it up to under 52.5