The University of Montana Grizzlies (0-0/0-0 Big Sky Conference) open their 2011 season on Saturday, Sept. 3, playing the University of Tennessee Volunteers (0-0/0-0 Southeastern Conference) in Knoxville, in 102,455-seat Neyland Stadium. Kickoff: 4:07 p.m. (Mountain Time).

Veteran Mick Holien calls the play-by-play for the Grizzlies for his 19th season in a row in 2011. Former Griz wide receiver Scott Gurnsey provides in-booth color, while Greg Sundberg serves as the sideline reporter. Montana has a 15-station Grizzly Football Network in 2011, and can be heard locally on Missoula’s KGVO-AM (1290).

If you are a Montana Bresnan/Optimum DIGITAL subscriber you must call 1-877-Bresnan (1-877-273-7626) and go through the automated phone service. After pushing 1 for Residential Customer, then push 6 “to add pay-per-view”. You will then get a human and he/she will ask for your information and add it to your bill. Randy Smith calls the play-by play and Jeff Francis is the color analyst.

Montana is 67-41-2 all-time in season openers (since 1897) and 15-22-1 in season openers on the road. Montana has four road wins over FBS teams in the modern (FCS) era.

There is a 99.999% chance the Griz will play in front of the biggest crowd in school history in UT’s Neyland Stadium. The largest crowd Montana has played in front of to date is 70,585, when it lost 41-7 at 16th ranked Iowa in 2006. The lowest attended UT home game in Neyland Stadium last season was 95,183 against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

The Grizzly-Volunteer match-up this season should be the largest crowd to ever see a Big Sky team play. That standard was set last year when Idaho State played at the SEC’s Georgia in front of 92,746 fans.

The Griz are 7-20 all-time against FBS (formerly called Division 1-A) teams since joining the FCS (I-AA) in 1978. UM’s last game against an FBS team was that 41-7 loss at Iowa in 2006. The Grizzlies’ last win over an FBS team was 41-28 over former Big Sky member Idaho in 2003.

This is the first time Montana has played a team from the SEC in football. The Grizzlies played SEC member Kentucky once in an NCAA Basketball Tournament first-round game in Salt Lake City, losing 92-54 in the 1996-97 season.

Montana was 7-4 last season and third (tie) in the Big Sky Conference with a 5-3 record. The Grizzlies have had 25 consecutive winning seasons, a streak which began in 1986.

The Griz return seven starters on offense, seven-and-a-half on defense, and their kicker/punter. In 2010, for the first time since 1993 Montana did not advance to the FCS (I-AA) playoffs. The Griz had participated in 17 in a row.

Also in 2010, for the first time in the previous 12 seasons, the Grizzlies did not win (or at least share) the Big Sky title. Montana has participated in the FCS playoffs a division record 20 times, winning national titles in 1995 and 2001. The Grizzlies are 2-5 in the chipper, finishing second five times: 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2009.

Montana has finished first or second in the Big Sky 15 of the past 18 seasons, and has won a total of 18 league titles (12 in a row from 1998-2009).