Paraphrasing Bud-Lite Kaminski in the 1993 cinematic masterpiece The Program, "Great Week 9 in OUA football -- wish I'd seen it."

(Half-full disclose: the stuff one watches on YouTube on the weekend while packing up to move to a new city and also tracking down Canadian divers who are 12 time zones away in Malaysia  never ceases to amaze.)

Long story short, OUA shook out in way that could have been foreseen in August: Western in first, Laurier, McMaster and Carleton getting a home playoff game, and Ottawa being inscrutable Air Raid team. The Ravens will have their first on-campus playoff game since 1986, while the rivals in the nation's capital will meet in the post-season for the first time since '96.

Anyway, now that the IV drip of Red Bull is inserted, we have narratives:

  • Western got a good scare from McMaster, a potential Yates Cup opponent, after squeaking by 19-18 in a first-place battle. It was a wind-affected game, which certainly hurt the probability of success, but chances are the weather will not better for the Yates on Nov. 12.

    Chris Merchant, Alex Taylor and Co. were 30 points and 200-plus yards below their seasonal average. And as Morris Dalla Costa's column notes, "with third-and one with 30 seconds left, for some reason, the Mustangs’ left Simon Bahru all alone in coverage. The Marauder receiver got behind in but quarterback Asher Hastings missed him." Western typically doesn't repeat mistakes or leave their leaks unattended, which is why they are always playing into November.

    Western prevailed on the margin of a missed field goal single after John Biewald got downfield to make the tackle two yards deep in the end zone.  
  • One is welcome to the Hot Take that a Carleton-Western semifinal would be a de facto championship game. Those are the two squads with the best offensive lines, and capable front sevens on the other side of the ball. Each has explosion play capability in the third phase.
  • One presumes Laurier defensive coordinator Ron VanMoerkerke might have glean some things from seeing how McMaster defended against Western. The upshot for the No. 2 seed Golden Hawks is they have the bye, but the three-score loss in London still has some stickiness.

    Many good teams have got it right the second time. Four of the last eight OUA champions finished second in the regular season (2008 and '10 Western, 2011 McMaster and 2015 Guelph).
  • Only Western, in 2007, has won the conference without benefit of the bye.

    The Carleton Ravens' path to the Yates goes through two teams they have defeated, Ottawa next week and potentially Western in the semifinal (although Western in November and Western on a hot summer night on Labour Day weekend ain't one and the same).

    The way McMaster and Mike Kashak (11½ sacks) get after it gives them a strong shot at being the second. (If they get upset by Guelph, this bullet point never happened.) Likewise, being in the 4 seed might work out for Carleton.
  • To the Jim Mullin Red Book! It can be ascertained that an Ottawa-Carleton postseason matchup has happened twice, in 1986 at Keith Harris Stadium and 1996 at Frank Clair Stadium. Each was a 4 vs. 1 semifinal, and the home team prevailed each time.

    In 1970 and '73, Ottawa and Carleton also finished first and fourth respectively. In 1967, they were second and third in the 12-team Central Canada Intercollegiate Football Conference (where were the marketing people to shorten that name?)
  • Coach of the week honours to the Gee-Gees' Jamie Barresi, one for going for the high-reward all-or-nothing plays twice to defeat Queen's 42-41 in overtime.

    As you might have heard, all-Canadian candidate Mitch Baines grabbed a tipped pass for the winning two-point convert.


    As Barresi explained: "It meant everything to get that sixth win. The fact of the matter is that we learned from last year’s overtime against Carleton. That was a big lesson learned because we should have ended it then. Today, the players on the bench were in my ear a bit to go for it – we knew had a play. We all felt confident about it, and they urged me on to do it. But right away I thought about that Panda Game last year."

    Barresi and the Gee-Gees also went 'double or nothing' on the last play of the first half. Queen's Chris Osei-Kusi fumbled while trying to return a well-short 55-yard field goal attempt and Ottawa recovered with 10 seconds left. Ottawa worked the shallow cross / wheel combo pattern perfectly so that Bryce Vieira was wide-open for an easy touchdown, cutting Queen's lead to nine points.

    The Gees had a lot of mental outs: bad loss to Western, dank weather, the prospect of being locked into fifth place since Carleton was 99.98 per cent likely to win at Waterloo. They made it matter.
  • A sign of being in the upper quadrant of second-rate minds is believing Queen's can be held to account for the Homecoming "debacle," while having a heart for the coaches and players.

    A season-ending  walk-off  must feel devastating. Queen's defensive back Jason Shamatutu, who tipped the ball, did his job by reading and side-shuffling into the window Derek Wendel had to throw to Baines. The ball just happened to deflect right to a likely all-Canadian receiver.

    The Gaels hung in while losing starting QB Nate Hobbs, and having another injury-dictated change in the kicking game. Kyle Gouveia had a decent 17-of-26, 172-yard, two-TD passing line in relief on a wet day. They also had a contacting the kicker penalty that extended Ottawa for a field goal drive in the third quarter.
  • So Baines put Queen's out of the playoffs, and put Guelph and his brother, OLB Riley Baines, into the playoffs. 
  • Wendel upped his CIS single-season completions record to 232. Regina's Noah Picton has 197 heading into his final game at Manitoba on Saturday.

    There is a chance, then, that Wendel could have a national record nicked by a Canada West QB. Last season, of course, he got the passing yards mark with 3,136, which set the bar for Calgary's Andrew Buckley to go off against Alberta and finish with 3,162. 
Enjoy the playoffs.
For the third time since it was established in 1906, the governing body for university sports in Canada is changing its name. Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) - which was born 110 years ago as Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union Central, dropped the Central moniker when it became a national organization in 1961 before changing to the CIS in 2001 - will now be known as U Sports.

Cue the "Who are U again?" quips. I kid.

After 15 years with the former name, the overseer of university sports is now University Sports Canada. Or #USports on the Twitter:
A name change is in keeping with the idea that, as a product the sports-consuming public enjoys, university athletics needs a reboot. Of course, it will take a lot more than moving the offices to Toronto hanging out a new shingle to effect change, but that's another post.

For the first time, I had no pangs of missing something while being otherwise engaged during Queen's Homecoming game. Part of that was being focused on handling the play-by-play for another game, Western at Ottawa.

It was also a defence mechanism against the knowledge that the events at new Richardson Stadium (3.0) were not the genuine article. The new stadium is an absolute jewel, by all accounts. What creates the Queen's Homecoming game atmosphere, which made me a made member of the Tricolour mafia, was not gold bucket seats at midfield or a sky-high price-point.

It was the people who came back year after year, with generations of Gaels mingling. Thanks to Claude Scilley calling it out months ago, it was known that "one of the grand traditions of Homecoming," the halftime alumni parade, had been shelved. No track, so no parade. No capability of finding a creative workaround, or 'not at this time' as communications professionals are wont to say.

One of my more vivid Queen's memories is from 1997, the last Homecoming game that I watched from the 'student side' bleachers before getting tangled up in campus media. I was fortunate enough to squeeze down to the front of the grandstand when the alumni paraded around a halftime, leaning out and high-fiving alumni from as far back as the Class of 1937.

With limited free student tickets, it was apparently a nearly student-free homecoming game. After years of anticipation about the new stadium, Queen's said it had a "sellout" but a photo post from The Queen's Journal depicts swathes of empty seats.

Beyond all that, though, there was a realization -- OMG, it's become self-aware -- that the function of the new stadium turns Homecoming into a misnomer. It's about creating value in the future. One might like being pulled into that, but liking it doesn't enter into it.

How Danny Maciocia played the Laval-Montréal endgame is indefensible in any language, even if his Carabins hold the tiebreakers in the RSEQ's two-horse race.

The Rouge et Or's and Carabins' season series is essentially a university football take on a Champions League tie -- a two-game total-point series. Laval prevailed 22-19 at CEPSUM on Saturday, returning the favour for Montréal winning 24-21 on their field in September. That means, once they each finish 7-1, home-field advantage for the Dunsmore Cup (and Uteck Bowl, potentially) is going to go to the third tiebreaker: Si toujours à égalité, l'équipe ayant encaissé le plus petit total de points contre elle dans l'ensemble des matchs de la saison régulière. Fewest points conceded. Montréal has yieleded 67, 10 fewer than Laval with 77. The next tiebreaker, in the s

Nevertheless, what Maciocia opted for on third-and-one at Laval's 20-yard line with 20 seconds left all the more confusing. The Carabins left the offence in, and QB Samuel Caron was stopped cold on the line plunge by DT Marc-Andre Ouellet to essentially end the game.

The smart, if not totally stand-up play, would have been to line up in field goal formation, then have the kicker boot the ball through the end zone for a single. Lose by two, but definitively have the first tiebreaker. That was the point of taking the wind in the fourth quarter at the expense of kicking off in each half, right? To have the wind in case it came down to a kick? And then you don't kick?

The vote was getting too easy. Laval has the most recent win in the Battle of Quebec, so it should be No. 1. Western won by 51 and Calgary won by 57, but the Mustangs beat a better team, so there's your 3-4 slots. A three-spot drop by Regina seems justifiable.

  1. Laval Rouge et Or (5-1 RSEQ, prev. 2, host Bishop's on Sunday): QB Hugo Richard threw two interceptions against the Carabins, but Laval played well enough to win on the field they will likely return to in four weeks for the Dunsmore Cup.
  2. Montréal Carabins (5-1 RSEQ, prev. 1, host Laval): Running back Sean Thomas Erlington was limited to seven rushes for nine yards on Saturday. That's unheard-of for the Carabins feature back. The upshot is Caron, with little to no rushing phase, was an INT-free 27-of-38 for 304 yards. 
  3. Western Mustangs (6-1 OUA, --, at Ottawa): Beat Laurier by 19 when they were both 4-0. Beat Ottawa by 51 when they were each 5-1. Now they have McMaster at home with both coming in 6-1.

    Chris Merchant has found a rhythm with his receivers, and 6-foot-5 former Ottawa RedBlacks draft pick Jamal Kett has rejoined the receiving corps. Actually, he might have been the only Mustangs receiver who did not score during their 68-17 win in Ottawa.  
  4. Calgary Dinos (5-1 CW, prev. 5, host Saskatchewan): Scoring 63 points against Manitoba gets everyone in attendance free frogurt. That's good. Quarterback Jimmy Underdahl is out for the season with a knee injury. That's bad. But they are back in the driver's seat to host the Hardy! That's good. The frogurt is cursed. That's bad.
    Adam Sinagra, of Pointe-Claire, Que., and John Abbott College, is stepping into the breach.
  5. Carleton Ravens (5-2 OUA, prev. 6, at Waterloo): Jayde Rowe is exactly 100 yards ahead of Western's Alex Taylor for the rushing title heading into Week 9. Taylor faces McMaster's OUA-leading rush defence, and Rowe is facing Waterloo. How long Carleton exposes Rowe to potential injury will be awfully interesting.
  6. McMaster Marauders (5-1 OUA, prev. 7, at Western): Should McMaster upset Western next week, they finish first by dint of owning the common-opponent point-differential tiebreaker against Laurier

    The Marauders' and Golden Hawks' common foes: Carleton, Guelph, Queen's, Toronto, Waterloo, Western and York. Margin of victory is capped at 33 points. McMaster takes a 6-0 record and plus-163 differential into next week. Laurier is 6-1 and plus-102.

    McMaster also comes out ahead in the three-way head-to-head with Carleton and Ottawa.
  7. Regina Rams (4-2 CW, prev. 4, host UBC on Friday): After weeks of surviving on the margins, the Rams lost 19-18 to heretofore winless Alberta despite a 200-yard edge. Three lost fumbles and three missed field goals, including a 52-yard try on the final play, will do that to a team.

    The Golden Bears' Josh Taitinger gets our nod as man of the match, with a fumble recovery with 1:48 left that set up the winning field goal. Taitinger also made a goal-line tackle in the fourth quarter that led to Regina taking the 11-yard field goal to go ahead by two, instead of potentially going up by a converted touchdown.

    The Rams' Daniel Scraper erred on two field goals in the first half. Regina took the points twice from Alberta's 10-yard line or closer, and also lost a fumble at the 10. Sometimes those are just the breaks. It probably shouldn't have come down to who would make a kick at the end, but Alberta's Brent Arthur hit the go-ahead kick with 18 seconds left, and Regina's Thomas Huber, couldn't connect from 52 at the buzzer.

    Just like that, Regina went from having a shot at home-field advantage to needing to defeat UBC to retain second place.
  8. Laurier Golden Hawks (6-1 OUA, prev. 9, at Windsor): It was boom or bust on offence against Guelph, where Levondre Gordon had 12 rushes for 193 yards during the 27-25 win. Their defence made just enough plays to seal the win.

    Laurier's playoff equation is simple. Defeat Windsor and they get a bye.
  9. Ottawa Gee-Gees (5-2 OUA, prev. 8, at Queen's): It was never really close against Western, as the scores by quarters attest: 14-0, 38-10, 48-10. The Gee-Gees got stuffed on third-and-one at their own 49 on their first possession and it went downhill apace.
  10. St. Francis Xavier X-Men (5-1 AUS, --, at Acadia): Just stay healthy for the Mitchell Bowl, X-Men. Kaion Julien-Grant had 230 receiving yards against Saint Mary's. The X-Men defence housed two interceptions, which was two more touchdowns than they permitted.
Unranked team of the week: Alberta (1-5 CW). Of course a D-lineman named Lucky Daniels would recover the fumble that set up the tide-turning touchdown. The Golden Bears defence spent almost 34 minutes on the field, but had the resolve to hold Noah Picton and Co. to one touchdown. Always nice to see a struggling team salvage something from its season. Alberta played better as the game went on, with QB Ben Kopczynski leading an 86-yard drive at the start of the fourth that probably took a toll on the Regina D.

No one is going winless in Canada West. Yay!
The upside of crawling out of a tryptophan coma is that there is no reason to change the ballot.

The top half of my ballot were all on bye weeks. The second half all won, by an average of 35.8 points.
Week 8 includes a 'first and third' scenerio with Western visiting Ottawa, who are each unblemished apart from road defeats against Carleton.

Meantime, Guelph is up against Laurier, and Windsor's is at Queen's. Three of those four teams are fighting for their postseason life.

1. Western (5-1). Remaining: bye, @Ottawa, McMaster 

Styles make fights. Western's juggernaut rushing game, accentuated by Chris Merchant, goes against a fast but undersized Gee-Gees defence on Saturday. Meantime, Derek Wendel, who made a 514-yard night look routine against York, will try to test the Mustangs defence.

If this game were Sept. 15, Ottawa would stand a stronger shot. The seasonal change probably works in Western's favour, but a Jamie Barresi offence should make the Gees a tough out at home.

t-2. Laurier (5-1). Remaining: Guelph, @Windsor

The Golden Hawks, back in the day, were everyone's second-favourite OUA team. Wonder if that will be the case when they have a chance to help Guelph appreciate the concept of sic transit gloria.

t-2. Ottawa (5-1). Remaining: Western, @Queen's 

The million-dollar questions about the Gee-Gees stem from the line of scrimmage, on each side of the ball. Their biggest O-lineman, Ibra Ndiaye (brain injury protocol), was held out against York. Sack leader Sam Randazzo also did not play. Ottawa is first-rank in the passing phase with a varied repertory among the receivers and some fluid coverage in the second and third levels. The offensive line and the pass rush count as question marks.

Ottawa had a punt blocked against York. Western will surely try to block another.

t-2. McMaster (5-1). Remaining:  @York, @Western

Getting 36 points against Queen's with one offensive touchdown, that's pretty amazing. No one seems able to contend with The Power That Is Mike Kashak, who had 4½ sacks and a 'hockey assist' on a defensive TD after forcing a fumble that was recovered in the end zone. The lack of finish in the score zone is concerning.

McMaster (+8) has the tiebreaker advantage over Ottawa (+2) and Carleton (-10), should they all end up either 5-3 or 6-2. Carleton would have it over Ottawa, since they won the head-to-head matchup.

5. Carleton (5-2). Remaining: bye, @Waterloo

Carleton is closing in on a home game, although it is likely contingent on an Ottawa defeat.

Only flies on the was a slow start during the 53-10 rout against Windsor. It was 4-4 early in the second quarter. Then, p

t-6. Queen's (2-4). Remaining: Windsor, Ottawa 

Legit playoff team, or are they just collecting W's against weaker teams? Queen's did little to disabuse any of the latter suspicion while going touchdown-free against McMaster. Queen's has scored 20 or fewer points in 4-of-6 games.

t-6. York (2-4). Remaining: McMaster, @Guelph 

There is talent in Lions territory; Brett Hunchak has a fantastic arm at this level and his 329 yards on Friday was the most any team has had against Ottawa. York under offensive minds Kyle Quinlan and Kamau Peterson is playing exciting football, even when they they are losing by 20.

The degeneration on defence was stark. On top of the 741 yards (528 aerially) against Ottawa, the Lions committed some undisciplined penalties. There was a bad hit to the head on Gee-Gees cornerback Ty Cranston while he was catching a short punt.

t-6. Windsor (2-4). Remaining: @Queen's, Laurier

Tallied only 231 yards against Carleton, and 164 came through Tarrence Crawford. As an observer, it was frustrating to see an underdog miss opportunities.

Both of their sudden-change takeovers inside Carleton's 30-yard line only produced Clark Green field goals. On the first instance, Nick Vincent recovered a fumbled punt on Carleton's 27. An illegal procedure penalty negated a first-down completion, and then a swing pass to Crawford on second-and-11 only got 10 yards. On third-and-1, Windsor kicked the field goal.

In the third, an end-over-end kickoff ricocheted off Windsor's Evan Martin and rolled to Kaeden Walls, who turned a broken play into a 71-yard return to Carleton's 25. All the Lancers could do with that fluky play, and a defensive holding on the next down, was a two-yard rush and an overthrown fade route that someone who never played football could tell was coming.

Does anyone else get annoyed by that?

t-6. Guelph (2-4). Remaining: @Laurier, York

Guelph-Laurier is essentially a playoff game. The Gryphons are playing for their postseason life, and the Golden Hawks would stay in the bye hunt.
Montréal and the next four slots are locked in, since everybody won. The Carabins, with backup QB Pierre-Luc Varhegyi tossing up a jump ball that Regis Cibasu ran in for the winning 53-yard touchdown, survived Mother Nature's monstrous creation that is the natural grass of Sherbrooke with a 27-20 victory.

You know what that entails: No. 2 Laval at No. 1 Montréal in two weeks, with each team having had two weeks to prepare. And boom goes the tryptophan.

Six through 10 is contentious, although whether it includes bona fide contenders is debatable.

Bad things come in threes. Or fours. The #cawlidgehockey folks all need to have their monocles replaced after some discord during CIS-NCAA exhibition men's hockey on Saturday.

Just the facts:
The first two instances are a bad look, and then some. This isn't an automatic thing; Carleton and Holy Cross' exhibition was pretty sedate.

Striking power was the story of the day, as Carleton and Western each had pull-away wins in rivalry games.

In front of a Panda Game crowd of 23,329, Carleton defeated Ottawa 43-23. By halftime, when the margin was still eight points, it was evident the Ravens' collective experience and individual talent in the passing phase was going to win the day. Sure enough, Carleton coach Steve Sumarah indulged a taste for the jugular after stalling early in the third. Botteur extraordinaire Mike Domagala flipped a shovel pass to Wilson Birch on a fake punt for a 33-yard gain into the red zone. That set up Nate Behar's second TD catch to stretch the lead to 28-13.

And, of course, Ottawa only ended up with 23 points. Gee-Gees QB Derek Wendel and his receivers were held in check by Carleton's secondary, with cornerback Nathaniel Hamlin delivering an all-star effort. The lack of finish led to the implosion early in the fourth. Normally automatic Lewis Ward was wide left on a 37-yard field goal try. Tunde Adeleke reeled off a 120-yard return touchdown, which, remarkably, is the second time in his career he has housed a missed field goal in the Panda Game.

Western handled Laurier 45-26. It was a seven-point game in the third. George Johnson, the fifth-year receiver, broke off a 54-yard reception. Western only got a field goal out of that, but that was the start of the familiar pattern, where Western starts scoring and over. They scored consecutive touchdowns and were soon ahead by 24.

With McMaster dropping Guelph to 2-4, there are four one-loss teams and five others in contact with the playoff pack heading into Turkey Week. Here's a look at what everyone is looking entering the first full week of October:

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