Missoula • Southern Utah might not beat Montana and snap its two-game losing steak, but coach Ed Lamb promises a spirited effort from the Thunderbirds.
SUU comes off a 27-22 loss to Sacramento State, which rallied from a nine-point deficit in the third quarter.
The Thunderbirds were unemotional and sloppy against the Hornets. They dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the Big Sky Conference.
"For the first time since I've been coaching at SUU," Lamb said, "we faced a team that out-efforted us."
He called the performance "very disappointing," adding, "... The work ethic and motivation have to be there. That's on me. It's a reflection of me, and it won't happen again."
Southern Utah's first three losses came against Utah State, California and Montana State, which is ranked second nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision.
A week before SUU's flat outing against Sacramento State, the Bobcats escaped Eccles Coliseum with a 24-17 win. According to Montana coach Mick Delaney, that is the game that defines Southern Utah, not the Sacramento State loss.
"SUU is an outstanding football team ... as good as any team in the country," Delaney said. "The won-loss record does not indicate what kind of football team coach Lamb has."
Despite Montana's record of 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the Big Sky, Lamb is equally impressed with the Grizzlies.
Montana is led by freshman quarterback Trent McKinney, who directs an offense that averages 32.2 points and 448 yards per game.
"The quarterback is a run threat and a pass threat," Lamb said. "Behind that big offensive line, he's very dangerous."
Lamb calls the Grizzly defense "fast and physical" a challenge for SUU quarterback Brad Sorensen, who threw for 327 yards against Sacramento State.
Southern Utah at Montana
P At Washington-Grizzly Stadium
Kickoff • 1:30 p.m.
TV • None. Radio • 91.1 FM
Records • Southern Utah 2-4, 1-2; Montana 3-3, 1-2
Series • Montana leads, 4-1
Last meeting • Montana, 46-10 (2008)
About the Thunderbirds • They have lost back-to-back conference games (Montana State, Sacramento State) by 12 points. ... QB Brad Sorensen is their new career leader in passing yards (7,638). He passed Rick Robins (7,441) last week against Montana State.
About the Grizzlies • They have lost to No. 6 Eastern Washington, No. 13 Appalachian State and No. 16 Northern Arizona. ... Freshman QB Trent McKinney has accounted for 13 touchdowns seven passing and six rushing.