And boom went the tryptophan for No. 2 Calgary and No. 5 Laurier, who have each stumbled around in an apparent turkey coma after not playing during the holiday weekend.

The Dinos and QB Adam Sinagra are in the driver's seat for home-field advantage throughout the  playoffs regardless of whether it comes back to defeat Manitoba (!). Calgary, trailing much of the way, has scored 14 unanswered points to take a late 34-27 lead.

No need to remind anyone that Calgary won by 59 points in their first game; Manitoba certainly did not forget.

In central Canada, Guelph demonstrated why it was a Top 10-worthy despite three losses with a 24-14 win against Laurier that can only be described as thorough. The end result is that, apart from Western having first place locked, the other five playoff slots in Ontario are completely in an uproar. McMaster, the tortoise to Laurier's hare, can wrest the second-place playoff bye by defeating the sagging Golden Hawks in Waterloo next week.
Until Twitter gives us 280 characters and focus more on curbing the white nationalists instead of Rose McGowan, thoughts go in this space; #notstickingtosports. 
  1. Competitive balance starts with collective bargaining. We begin with the CFL, where the East is now 7-27-1 against the West — hey, a winning percentage above .200 — this season. In all the why-ing about the disparity, it seems like the difference in cost of living is seldom raised. A dollar stretches farther in four of five western markets (Vancouver being the exception) than in any four of the eastern cities (Hamilton is beginning to get pricey. .

    That must be a factor in signing players to a rookie contract, and retaining and attracting veteran free agents.

    The CFL's negotiation of its next collective agreement has the obvious hook that commissioner Randy Ambrosie was once on labour's side of the table.

    Player safety is expected to be one of the main issues, but one that ought to come up is exploring whether it's actually the best policy to have a hard salary cap. Every city and tax jurisdiction is unique. This has been a protracted phenomenon that seems to supersede quality of teams coaching.
  2. So how would you change the CFL playoff format? Picture yours truly sitting here with a convoluted idea about how to reward the best regular-season performances and keep an East-vs.-West motif for the Grey Cup. Then Venerable Wally Buono piped up last weekend (before his team lost at home against an East team, natch):
    "We want national sponsors, we want national appeal. If that’s the case, then, the formula, in my mind, would be the first-place teams get a bye. The next four teams make the playoffs. So you could have the second- and third-place team in either division host a playoff game. We’re still in a society where we reward excellence, right?" (Postmedia, Oct. 7)
    So in that scenario, the East's first-place team with a losing record still has the more direct route to the Grey Cup. Still not fair, but fairer. The division semifinals, semantically, become cross-over quarter-finals. Winnipeg (second-best overall record) would host a game against the sixth overall team, which is currently the B.C. Lions. The fourth seed would host the fifth seed.

    If the playoffs were beginning today, these would be the matchups:

    Cross-over playoffs:
    (6) B.C. at (3) Winnipeg
    (5) Edmonton at (4) Saskatchewan

    East final:
    Highest remaining seed at (2) Toronto
    Lowest remaining seed at (1) Calgary

    The league has market placement at either end of the country on the penultimate Sunday of the season — everyone happy, or at least, less upset. 
Cinderella has turned into a pumpkin in Ontario, right on time for Thanksgiving weekend. It was fun buying in on Waterloo while it lasted, but they are who we worried they were.

Waterloo has allowed an average of almost 59 points and 548 yards over the last four weeks. Their only head-to-head tiebreaker among the teams likely to end up in the anticipated logjam for the final OUA playoff berths is against Carleton (thanks to that 45-43 win on Sept. 23). But that could be potential be taken out of play, since Queen's now comes out ahead in a three-way tiebreaker scenario with Waterloo and Carleton.

What might be the real downside of Waterloo getting exposed is that their four-win streak effectively ran cover for what's been a very according-to-form OUA season; no upsets, no to-the-wire scorefests. Western is rolling, even though some people believe they're not on the level of some of the teams that were Vanier-conversation worthy.

This will be succinct (ha!), since only four ranked teams are even playing over the holiday weekend.
Stuff that really needs to be on a podcast.
  1. Concordia-Montréal cancelled; Saint Mary's forfeits Week 1 win. Breaking news as the No. 1-ranked Montréal Carabins' have been sacked by "a very virulent gastroenteritis virus," leading to the cancellation of their Thursday home game against Concordia. It shouldn't be a forfeit; the Carabins literally do not have enough people to field a credible team and, pardon playing doctor on the internet, even the personnel who have not evinced symptoms could end up transmitting germs.

    The initial report is that the game will simply be abandoned. Details are very preliminary so it's unclear whether this would affect Montreal's next two games, against Sherbrooke (Oct. 14) and Laval (Oct. 21).
    There was a similar situation a few years ago in AUS and everyone carried on; all one can do is hope the virus is contained before it ends up tainting the season.

    The other news is AUS standings just got a little tighter. Saint Mary's forfeited its win against St. Francis Xavier on Aug. 25 over the use of two ineligible players. It was a self-disclosed violation.

    A forfeit is officially recorded as a 1-0 win, and of course Saint Mary's won the actual rematch against St. FX by one point. There goes the point-differential tiebreaker if both finish 6-2. 
  2. Football and chill? The Panda Game made for great television, what with the raucous crowds, tightly contested game and the cliffhanger finish — not the double overtime, but when everyone watching via TV was worried CHCH would go off-air at the 3½-hour mark. It was definitely something to share with a potential broadcast partner or a start-up streaming service looking for content to populate a schedule, à la TSN in its nascence in the 1980s and The Score (R.I.P.) in the aughts.

    This is as good a time as any to offer a reminder that broadcasters in this country were once required to dedicate funding/hours to amateur sport. And if the light-on-details Liberals can really get a half-billion dollars out of Netflix, what a half-million a year for 10 national broadcasts?
    Until then, the OUA will have to work with stations like CHCH, which will give them the air time for the games if the OUA pays for the production cost. Grace says costs to produce a football game are about $40,000.

    "As to the funding, the federal government providing funding of, I think, $500 million to Netflix last week to help encourage broadcasting and movie producing in Canada, which is great, it’s a great industry,” Grace said. “It would be great if we could get some funding to get ourselves off the ground. It’s a horse-and-cart thing. For us to create a product, we need some seed funding and then we create that great product. We could take it to market and attract sponsorships."
    (London Free Press, Oct. 3)
    (Clarification: it's reportedly Netflix investing the $500 million, not the other way around. Hold off on calling your member of Parliament.)

    The above-quoted mentions OUA's steps to pare the average game time to fewer than three hours. It is one thing for a major property such as MLB or NFL to be unable to guarantee a sub-three hour game, but the little guy has to work harder.
  3. Who are you, Joe Hollywood? Back in the day when people waited until a certain half-hour block of time on a certain night to consume their favourite TV show, broadcast executives talked about a "lead-in." It meant that on Thursdays, you showered, shaved and prepped for a night out during the half-hour between Friends and Seinfeld.

    It is striking that there is a missed opportunity for the Panda Game to be a lead-in for a Vanier Cup in Ottawa (in the future, not necessarily this year when Ottawa has the Grey Cup and an outdoor NHL game). Selling Panda/Vanier ticket packages would have to be approached delicately — i.e., without the shady "if you buy tickets to A, you have to buy tickets to B" sales tactic — but it would be one way to avoid another disaster like the '16 Vanier. 
A bold Calgary statement on a cold Friday night. The No. 2-ranked Dinos, on the margin of 21 unanswered in the third quarter, won 31-17 on the road against No. 6 UBC, which could help them cadge a few more first-place votes from idle Montréal. The Dinos received five in last week's poll, and had one two weeks ago.

Here's what I submitted.
Other, greater minds of more refined taste are fortunately on hand to balance out the ballot.

As often happens on UFC cards, the preliminaries were better than the main bout in Ontario. Western is in the driver's seat for home-field advantage through to the Yates Cup. The other games involving teams which received votes this week beggar bullet-pointing.
  • Western was in control throughout against Laurier during a 29-13 road win. That likely leaves the 4-5-6-7 spots unchanged, since the form held for all four teams.
  • The OUA was pushed toward parity thanks to two frantic finishes by teams who had the short end of the scheduling stick.
  • Carleton outlasted Ottawa 33-30 in double overtime in the Panda Game, making it four in a row in the rivalry game, with three decided on the final snap of the ball. The finish was controversial; to say the least.
  • Guelph, behind young QB Theo Landers, defeated Waterloo 53-49 and put itself deeper in the Top 10 mix. Talk about about a tale of two halves. The Gryphons had three first downs and 64 yards in the first 30 minutes. Then they scored 41 across the final 30 minutes. The Gryphons have two overtime losses against teams with winning records and lost quarterback James Roberts during their other defeat. That's enough to warrant a look at No. 9 or 10, if mostly due to a lack of other lead-pipe locks.
  • Saint Mary's continues to leave it to the last minute. A 50-yard touchdown by Lerone Robinson from Kaleb Scott in the final 20 seconds vaulted the eastern Huskies to a homecoming-spoiling 22-21 road win against St. Francis Xavier. 
  • Sayonara, Concordia. The Stingers lost 30-13 at home to Sherbrooke ... losing to a heretofore winless team seems to be happening a lot lately.
Regina will be sticking around for another week after beating Saskatchewan by a junior high school basketball score, 50-40, with Noah Picton doing Noah Picton things. While it was a big fireworks display in the Paris of the Prairies, what it says about the calibre of the teams depends on how much of one or both flavours of green Kool-Aid the observer has consumed since August.
Stuff that really should presented in podcast form, but let's not kid ourselves: you don't have time to listen! Instead it gets presented in written word format. How Web 2.0! In For A Dozen will be a weekly middle-of-the-week ritual that strives to put university sports in the context of a world where one can no longer Stick To Sports. 

  1. It really beggars processing that Ottawa defensive end Loïc Kayembe is dead and his teammates are carrying on by trying to prepare for the Panda Game, which will be in front of a crowd that dwarfs their usual audience by a factor of 10. One day the 24-year-old Kayembe was playing a football game. The next day the Congolese-born Montrealer was gone, leaving a void in dozens of lives. There's no predicting or extrapolating how the Gee-Gees will respond once they return to competition. A GoFundMe to help pay for Kayembe's memorial service reached its goal inside of a day.
  2. Hindsight is 20/20, but it feels like 37 C. It was stinking-hot in Ontario during the last two football Saturdays, with temperatures ranging above 30 C and high humidity, which was exacerbated by the sun's warming effect on rubber-pelleted FieldTurf playing surfaces.

    No doubt every team took every precaution to make sure players were hydrated and had some shade on the sidelines. One does wonder — and please don't read this as finger-pointing — how humid it has to be before teams move game times away from the hottest time of day.

    Logistically, could there be some edict from on high to push a game times to late afternoon? It's one variable that can be controlled. 
Talk about your all time hot-take starters. The week began with No. 1 Montréal posting an offensive touchdown-less 16-3 win against McGill. Oddly enough, Laval slogged by Concordia 12-8 in Ste-Foy, Que., on Sunday.

Does that make anyone reconsider their support of the Carabins and (update, Sunday 6 p.m.) the Rouge et Or, especially after Calgary hung half-a-hundred on Saskatchewan?

Montréal has been a near-unanimous No. 1 for the past two weeks. They couldn't breach the end zone of a team that gave up 68 points a week earlier against Concordia, and McGill had one fewer day of turnaround. Bad look, Carabins.

So it's a muddle between Calgary and the two Quebec powers, notwithstanding Montréal's head-to-head win against Laval — always the notwithstanding clause with Quebec, eh? If only there was some way to get the trio on the field with Ontario's purple people. At least OUA has a Western-Laurier matchup of unbeatens next week.

Oh right:
Anyway, the final results from the late-ish Satuday

  • Laval survived 12-8 against Concordia, which might lead to downgrading stock on the Rouge et Or whilst also vaulting the Stingers into the Top 10.
  • QB Adam Sinagra didn't finish, but No. 3 Calgary pulled away for to deal No. 10 Saskatchewan its second three-touchdown loss in a row (51-28). For those scoring at home, they have the internet on computers, Grandpa, and the Dinos scoring average actually dipped to 57 points a game. Queen's has 57 points all season.
  • Remember that suspicion No. 6 Regina was overhyped? Manitoba got off the schneid with a two-point win after both Rams kickers missed late field goals that might have forced overtime. So Manitoba erased the zero in the win column, and added a couple to the career tally for Brian Dobie.
    Regina and Saskatchewan play next week so we'll soon know who's more Top 10-worthy. For now, you can just write both team names on a 3x5 file card and throw them down the stairs.
  • While the Rams lost to a winless team, UBC and Western scored an easy 40-something on a pair of winless squads.

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