Last December, after Villanova's football team lost at James Madison in the FCS quarterfinals, coach Andy Talley was asked for his thoughts on the semifinal matchup between JMU and Montana.

Talley picked JMU, a fellow Colonial Athletic Association team, to win, as you figured he might.

The word got back to Montana, where they tend to take stuff like that personally. Montana went on the road and won, 35-27, although JMU quarterback Rodney Landers was injured early in the game.

Montana would lose in the final to Richmond, another CAA team.

Anyway, Talley heard about it.

"I got a lot of hate e-mails," he recalled. "You know, they really bombarded me. Some of it was pretty rough. It was a dumb statement by me, but I was just sort of sticking up for the league.

"Those people got upset about it. It just goes to show how serious they are about their program, and they're very protective of it."

So guess whom the Wildcats (13-1) are playing in Friday night's title game (8, ESPN2) in Chattanooga, Tenn.?

Montana (14-0) beat Appalachian State (11-3) at home on Saturday, 24-17.

"I probably gave them some bulletin-board material," said Talley, whose Wildcats rallied to beat another CAA team, William & Mary (11-3), Friday night at home in the other semifinal, 14-13. "I guess if I can be the second-most hated guy in Delaware [in a poll several years ago] I can be the most-hated guy in Montana. I don't know."

The teams have never met.

It's Montana's sixth trip to the last game since 1995. The Grizzlies lifted the trophy twice, but not since 2001.

This was only the second time 'Nova had reached the semis.

"Right now, there's so many issues to take care of," Talley said. "I mean, it's crazy stuff. What's the itinerary going to be? We're in finals now. We're bringing a proctor with us, so kids can take exams. It's nuts. But it's a good kind of nuts.

"There's only two teams that are still playing. And we're a basketball school. They kept saying on the TV, 'Don't forget, the winner will be playing Villanova on Friday.' Really. Wow, that's us. It's hard to believe.

"At this point we're still trying to figure [Montana] out. I think they're very physical. And really gutty. They look a lot like us. Very balanced. They're a top team, just like William & Mary . . .

"We're just so battle-tested, with the animals we've played. I don't think they can be any better than anybody we've already seen."