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Griz hold steady in polls as linebacker Patrick O’Connell picks up accolades

Griz hold steady in polls as linebacker Patrick O’Connell picks up accolades

MISSOULA — Despite moving to 2-0 with a 35-point win over Western Illinois Saturday, the Montana football team held steady at No. 4 in this week's Stats Perform media poll and No. 5 in the AFCA coaches poll, both released Monday.

The top five in both the media poll and coaches poll remained unchanged this week as each of the top-ranked teams picked up decisive wins in week two.

The Grizzlies totaled 1,110 points and three first-place votes in the media poll, with Sam Houston remaining in the top spot with 1,214 points and 33 first-place votes.

Montana is the highest ranked of five Big Sky Conference teams in the media poll once again this week, with Eastern Washington in at No. 7, Weber State at No. 9, Montana State at No. 13, and UC Davis at No. 14.

The Griz stayed at No. 5 in the AFCA Coaches Poll for a second-straight week with 599 points, just two points behind No. 4 North Dakota State. The same five Big Sky teams are also represented in the coaches' poll, but EWU sits right behind the Griz at No. 6, Weber State is at No. 8, and UC Davis sits one place ahead of Montana State at No 12.

UM started the season at No. 9 in each poll when the preseason rankings came out in August. The Grizzlies made a big jump last week after upsetting Washington in Seattle. 

Weekly awards around the FCS were also announced on Monday. Montana linebacker Patrick O'Connell was named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week by the online sports news outlet College Sports Madness and earned an honorable mention for the Stats Perform FCS Defensive Player of the Week as well after another stellar outing.

O'Connell led a Grizzly defense that shut out Western Illinois, holding the Leathernecks to just 151 yards of total offense and just 40 yards rushing in a 42-7 victory.

The junior from Kalispell was a catalyst against WIU, putting in 2.5 sacks and three TFLs, forcing a fumble, and tallying a team-high nine tackles.

After two games O'Connell's has totaled 4.5 sacks — the most in the Big Sky. He also leads the league in tackles for loss with six and is seventh overall in total tackles with 19.

With the help of O'Connell, Montana's defense has not allowed a touchdown in over 115 minutes of game time - more than seven quarters of play.

Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 15 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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