Here's something I put together as part of figuring out the Top 10 list: A ranking of all 27 CIS football teams by point differential per game. It's actually surprising how closely it mirrors the Top 10, aside from the fact Manitoba's well down the list.

Next, I'd like to add something on strength of schedule, but baby steps first:

Team Conf GP W L PF PA Dif Dif/G PTS W%
Laval Que 4 4 0 181 45 136 34 8 100%
Ottawa OUA 5 5 0 229 81 148 29.6 10 100%
Laurier OUA 5 5 0 195 60 135 27 10 100%
Saint Mary's Atl 4 4 0 163 69 94 23.5 8 100%
Saskatchewan CanW 5 4 1 135 64 71 14.2 8 80%
Bishop's Que 4 3 1 119 63 56 14 6 75%
Guelph OUA 5 3 2 156 89 67 13.4 6 60%
Manitoba CanW 4 4 0 107 63 44 11 8 100%
Queen's OUA 5 4 1 118 80 38 7.6 8 80%
Regina CanW 4 3 1 129 110 19 4.75 6 75%
Western OUA 5 1 4 131 114 17 3.4 2 20%
Calgary CanW 4 1 3 102 93 9 2.25 2 25%
Alberta CanW 5 2 3 121 112 9 1.8 4 40%
Concordia Que 4 3 1 71 73 -2 -0.5 6 75%
Montreal Que 4 1 3 58 67 -9 -2.25 2 25%
UBC CanW 5 2 3 99 129 -30 -6 4 40%
Acadia Atl 4 2 2 100 125 -25 -6.25 4 50%
McMaster OUA 5 2 3 114 146 -32 -6.4 4 40%
Waterloo OUA 5 3 2 97 131 -34 -6.8 6 60%
Sherbrooke Que 4 1 3 98 129 -31 -7.75 2 25%
Windsor OUA 5 1 4 102 161 -59 -11.8 2 20%
StFX Atl 4 1 3 67 122 -55 -13.8 2 25%
Mount Allison Atl 4 1 3 68 143 -75 -18.8 2 25%
McGill Que 4 0 4 71 160 -89 -22.3 0 0%
Simon Fraser CanW 5 0 5 65 187 -122 -24.4 0 0%
York OUA 5 1 4 57 197 -140 -28 2 20%
Toronto OUA 5 0 5 65 205 -140 -28 0 0%
Random observations from a week of CIS ball...


Crank up a Hec Crighton Trophy campaign for Bishop's Jamall Lee. Lee chewed up 250 yards -- his second "quarter century" game in three weeks -- in the Gaiters' 44-12 blowout of Mount Allison, and he could easily replicate that against a couple Downy-soft run defences over the next two weeks, McGill (6.1 yards per carry allowed) and Acadia (5.6 a pop). I'm joking (partly) about the quality of those two defences, but keep this in mind: Even by a conservative prediction, Lee will end up around 1,200 yards for the season, barring injury.

Know how many of the 18 runners to go over 1,200 played in the Quebec conference? Zero.

Lee is a little analogous to Darren analog to Arkansas' Darren McFadden in the NCAA -- an awesome talent on a team that's off the beaten path. With 79 rushes for 753 yards, he is first in the CIS in yards per carry (9.5) and second in total yardage behind Laurier's Ryan Lynch, who has had 38 more carries and one more game. He could go over 1,000 for the season next week against McGill's merry band of arm tacklers, maybe even by halftime.

Montreal Alouettes president and former Gaiters star Larry Smith's conference record of 1,053 yards, which has stood for 38 years, could also fall in the next couple weeks.

The Gaiters also seem headed for the winning season that will get Lee enough attention to nudge out Laval's Benoît Groulx for the Quebec conference Hec nomination. Throw in the residual anti-Rouge et Or sentiment and he's a shoo-in.

Is Saint Mary's, 40-12 winners over Acadia (including a 33-0 onslaught in the second half), going to be able to give Laval a game in a couple weeks?

The Rouge et Or beat St. FX 51-8. No, never saw that coming. Laval's Pierre-Luc Yao ran for three TDs to set the Quebec conference career record with 32, if you're into that kind of thing.

It's probably fair to say Montreal is in a freefall after a second loss to Concordia, 21-15 in a penalty-filled game. This ended being a battle of the backups and the Stingers' Liam Mahoney was good enough to secure Concordia's third win.


Anyone know off-hand when was the last time Guelph hosted a playoff game? Second-year coach Kyle Walters' team, now 3-2, has the inside track on fourth place in the OUA -- pretty heady stuff for a program that once missed the playoffs when in a conference where eight out of 10 teams were let into the dance (and you know who a couple of those Ugly Bettys are).

Walters played for the '96 Yates Cup-winning Gryphons, but if memory serves, they beat Western and Waterloo on the road to win the conference. After beating Waterloo, they returned to borrow the Warriors' borrowed stadium (Laurier folks never get tired of pointing this out) for the Churchill Bowl, for reasons that escaped me then since Queen's was in another conference then and it was frosh year, which means we were inebriated on Kokanee and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Heartbreak all over: York 21, Toronto 20 in the Red & Blue Bowl. It might be the beer talking, but teams who haven't won since 2001 sometimes find ways to lose. Seriously, this only happens to the Varsity Blues: They trade a safety for field position and end up losing by one point. That was probably the best percentage play, but the Blues didn't come out ahead in the exhange, since York got the next score (a field goal). That was as vital as what happened in the endgame.

A personal vow not to make sport of Tim Micallef's idiosyncratic vocabulary all season didn't make it through September: The Score's play-by-play man made a reference to a "rocket surgeon." What's that, someone who does a triple bypass in 30 minutes or it's free? The Score is going to get angry e-mails from brain scientists on Monday.

Maybe a "rocket surgeon" is what McMaster needs. The no longer mighty Marauders were thumped 60-7 by Ottawa at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Just imagine how bad it could have been if they were playing the Ticats. Coach Stefan Ptaszek is going to turn around the Marauders, but not all at once.

It's got to be some kind of record to be part of an 111-point swing against one team: In 2004 Ottawa QB Josh Sacobie, linebackers Joe Barnes and Mike Sheridan and kicker Ara Tchobanian and possibly a couple guys who don't get personal stats, were part of a Gee-Gees team that lost by 58 points to McMaster; three years later, they won by 53. Mac linebackers Jason Arakgi and Simon Binder, along with wideout Rob Serviss, also played in both games. That's worth bringing up just to remind Mac fans that a team can go from glory to shame and back again in a few short years.

What happened to Queen's in a 23-4 debacle vs. Laurier? The Golden Gaels have pretty much been hit-and-miss on offence since the start of last season and it caught up to them against a top team. Queen's QB Dan Brannagan was playing in 3/4 time and the game was in 4/4. The Gaels showed they can run the ball and play defence with any OUA team, but no one was thinking that as the clock wound down in Kingston.

Laurier's fifth-year DB Brent Hickey is our pick for CIS defensive player of the week. (Yes, his secondary mate Jahmeeks Beckford has two interceptions, but we try not to look for the obvious.) Hickey helped cause a fumble by Queen's Mike Giffin after a 28-yard run and also stripped the ball from Gaels slotback Devan Sheahan after a 54-yard reception, negating the Gaels' two longest plays (on, offence anyways) of the afternoon. The stats sheet didn't credit him with one forced fumble, let alone two, but he seemed to be the guy in the game I was watching.

Full credit to Laurier, which scored on three straight drives after centre Andrew Dietrich limped off with an injury that left him on crutches. Note to the Golden Hawks, however: The option play is best left in the museum with the rest of the dinosaurs.

You heard it here first: When all's said and done for the regular season, it will be Western-Queen's in the OUA quarter-final. The Mustangs, with a second-half schedule that softer than a fifth-year senior's -- York, Toronto, Waterloo -- can get to 4-4 into the final playoff spot. All bets are off if the Gaels pull an upset over Ottawa or if Guelph runs the table.

Something else to keep in mind: Greg Marshall will be coaching against two of his former Tiger-Cats assistants, Dennis McPhee and Joe Paopao, when Western meets Waterloo in the final week of the regular season on Oct. 20. Who but the dedicated Western haters would have thought that would be for a playoff spot?

How many times can you watch Windsor keep calling No. 24's number since their playbook is so limited? Windsor's Daryl Stephenson became the OUA's leading career rusher and did it in his hometown, London, but it came in a 49-0 Western walkover. Talk about bittersweet. Windsor coach Mike Morencie's rep improved greatly when the Lancers went 6-2 last season; now it looks like the Lancers are headed for a complete reversal, 2-6. Keeping it simple worked well for the Lancers last season. It might be time to adapt.

Since its cameo appearance in the Top 10 two weeks ago, Waterloo has been outscored 76-11 and hasn't scored a touchdown. Just throwin' that out there.


The most competitive conference in the country could end up with a sub-.500 playoff team. Jotting down the W's and L's, there's a scenario where Calgary (1-3 after a 17-9 loss to Alberta) could lose their next two, then beat Simon Fraser and UBC to end up 3-5 and sneak into fourth place.

The Alberta Golden Bears (2-3) have Manitoba, Regina on the road and Saskatchewan left ont the schedule, so a 4-4 record won't come easily. The Golden Bears have at least improved their passing game from bad last season to half-decent. The Bears averaged just 5.8 yards per pass last season and are up to 8.2, while cutting down on the drive-stoppers, sacks and interceptions.

Who, or what is Rhys Coppens? The U of A rookie defensive back, who won't even turn 18 until he's writing his end-of-semester exams, has already accounted for six takeaways in five games. Put him down for the Peter Gorman Trophy (rookie of the year).

Give Simon Fraser some style points. An onside kick to start the second half against Regina? They deserve to win soon for that kind of moxie.

The Saskatchewan Huskies' bye week is well-timed. The Green Dogs struggled past UBC 19-16, but both of their touchdown drives started in T-Birds territory after the defence came up with turnovers (one a botched option pitch from a rookie QB in his first start to a backup running back on the first play of the second half) and they averaged an un-Huskie-like 3.7 yards per carry. Tailback Tyler O'Gorman is expected back for the Calgary game on Oct. 13. That should help bring the Huskies out of their funk.

(Photo of Jamall Lee courtesy John Edwards, Bishop's sports information.)
Yesterday's Vancouver Province noted that UBC Thunderbirds quarterback Doug Goldsby might miss the rest of the season with a severely separated throwing shoulder.

The T-Birds are going to have to rely on 18-year-old true freshman Marc McVeigh, who came into camp No. 3 on the depth chart. Between McVeigh's raw talent, the first-year starters on the offensive line and remaining road trips to Calgary and Manitoba over the final four games, the T-Birds (2-2) are up against it for a playoff spot in Canada West. If Calgary beats Alberta today, the race is on.
Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press has an excellent column today on former Western Mustangs and CFL player P.J. Gleason's near-miraculous recovery from injuries suffered in a hit-and-run motorcycle crash last month.

Gleason, whose brother Paul is the Mustangs defensive co-ordinator, spoke to the team yesterday, six weeks after the crash in which, "Doctors told us that 99% of people would have been dead at the scene."

Dalla Costa makes a point not to trivialize this by applying some hokey sports theme about overcoming pain and wrong. Still, it's a great sports story and P.J. Gleason will be on the Mustangs sideline today for their game vs. Windsor.
Just a quick note that UBC sports information director Marc Weber, one of the best in the business, is leaving the university after 10 years to take on a role as a sports reporter with the Vancouver Province.

Good luck to him — even if he's now the competition.
OUA hoops note: just reported that Rohan Steen, a standout swingman with the York Lions the past two seasons, has transferred to Brock for his fifth and final year.

Steen's return to the Badgers is the latest indicator that the talent in OUA has shifted a bit toward its West Division; Windsor has the nucleus back from last season's CIS Final 8 team and the Western Mustangs are expected to make a run this season.

The OUA East, which will have two Final 8 berths, has Carleton, of course, but York, the Ottawa Gee-Gees and U of T Varsity Blues each lost key players to graduation.
The McGill Redmen and the Ottawa Gee-Gees have announced plans to hold their Nov. 3 OUA men's hockey game at Scotiabank Place, home of the NHL's Senators.

Evidently, everyone is tired of hearing the cliché going that CIS hockey is the best-kept sports secret in Canada. (How many people even know the UNB Varsity Reds, last season's University Cup champion, took a top NCAA team, the Maine Black Bears, to overtime last season?)

As such, it's become a trend for CIS teams to try and play at the NHL arena, or maybe a major junior building, in order to spike interest and hopefully see that spill over into more people who don't have a direct tie to the university attend games at the smaller on-campus arenas. McGill is also playing the Concordia Stingers at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Oct. 21 and a crowd of 10,000 is expected.

In other words, McGill is playing at the home of the Senators and the Canadiens this season and at least nine teams in the NHL aren't.

It's about time such a game was staged in Ottawa, where the call last fall at Out of Left Field was for Carleton to play the U of O at Scotiabank Place. It's nice see your idea used. (And what was that idea, Mr. Sager? Renting out the arena you don't own, or scheduling the hockey teams you don't coach, manage or play for?)
College Colours has its latest version of the Top 27, ready to go.
Call this decision a slam dunk: The OUA and The Score have changed plans for this week's University Rush game, deciding to cover the matchup of unbeatens, Laurier at Queen's, instead of winless Western's homecoming game against 1-3 Windsor.

The Gaels are going to be in tough against the Golden Hawks, but that's neither here nor there. The irony of the Mustangs losing a TV appearance is a bit rich. Western's former athletic director, Michael Lysko, if memory serves, cut a separate deal for TV coverage in 2006, so The Score wasn't able to show the Mustangs' homecoming. Now that the conference and network actually can this year, it's decided thanks, but no thanks.

The Score deserves a major hat tip for being flexible -- and listening to a discussion some of the diehards had on Monday. The Windsor-Western game is, at best, the fourth-most appealing OUA matchup this week. Unbeaten Ottawa's trip to McMaster and the Guelph-Waterloo game, which has major playoff implications, both would have been stellar choices.

Besides, the Mustangs might get that TV appearance back. The Score has left the Oct. 20 date open and the Waterloo-Western game that day will probably decide a playoff spot.

There Is Cable TV In The 613 (Out of Left Field, Aug. 13)
Ottawa media are reporting that the south side stands at Lansdowne Park have reached "the end of their useful life." (CBC News at 6.)

In the short run, that's forced the Ottawa Gee-Gees to reschedule their football game against the Queen's Golden Gaels from Friday, Oct. 5 to the 6th. There's a rule that a football game can't be held at the same time as a hockey game in the Civic Centre, which is actually under the north side stands, and the Ontario Hockey League's 67's play at home Oct. 5. If the south stand was still available, it would have been possible to put all the spectators there.

In the longer term, what is uOttawa going to do about ensuring a successful football team has a place to play that's fit for university ball, and how much will Ottawa's politicians acknowledge the Gee-Gees' place in the local sports scene?

Not that it's about me, but I had made sure to get the 5th off to see my beloved Gaels in action and now face trying to convince a colleague to trade a day off on a holiday weekend. Maybe it's for the best it's a non-starter, since the Gaels have lost the last seven games I've attended in person.
I was out for a jog on Saturday afternoon, and walked in the door huffing and puffing when the phone rang. "James," the voice said, "we won."

It was Jack Drover, athletic director at Mount Allison University, and I had been bugging him earlier in the week for a piece on why some struggling CIS teams simply can't win. To his credit, he answered every question and was more than generous with his time, and wasn't shy about addressing his school's less than stellar record recently in CIS football.

As part of the piece, I put together some of the recent histories of a few of the programs that have really had a hard time putting wins together, including the University of Toronto, who are 2-74 in the past 10 years.

U of T

2007 0 4 0 45 184
2006 0 8 0 125 418
2005 0 8 0 126 432
2004 0 8 0 82 450
2003 0 8 0 42 438
2002 0 8 0 63 364
2001 1 7 0 92 276
2000 0 8 0 40 348
1999 1 7 0 91 337
1998 0 8 0 103 226
1997 2 6 0 112 220
1996 3 5 0 91 174
1995 4 3 1 174 181
Totals 11 88 1 1186 4048

11.9 40.5

Mt. Allison

2007 1 2 0 56 99
2006 2 5 0 132 225
2005 0 8 0 23 379
2004 0 7 0 48 225
2003 0 8 0 66 279
2002 1 7 0 58 334
2001 1 7 0 47 330
2000 1 7 0 100 236
1999 4 4 0 126 136
1998 6 2 0 219 142
1997 5 3 0 190 136
1996 4 4 0 205 160
1995 1 7 0 147 235
Totals 26 71 0 1417 2916

14.6 30.1


2007 0 4 0 41 150
2006 0 8 0 100 431
2005 0 8 0 160 300
2004 3 5 0 174 232
2003 5 3 0 229 181
2002 2 6 0 110 219
Totals 10 34 0 814 1513

18.5 34.4


2007 2 1 0 75 51
2006 1 7 0 117 249
2005 1 7 0 131 233
2004 1 7 0 100 243
2003 2 6 0 191 327
2002 2 6 0 143 270
2001 2 6 0 107 224
2000 2 6 0 150 196
1999 2 6 0 129 193
1998 4 4 0 189 193
1997 3 5 0 136 114
1996 4 4 0 195 168
1995 5 3 0 200 166
Totals 31 68 0 1863 2627

18.8 26.5
Mark Wacyk of mentioned in a post yesterday that the OUA might be welcoming two new basketball programs within the next few years: the Algoma Thunderbirds, who currently play in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association, are angling to join the OUA soon as the Sault Ste. Marie school gets full university status (it's currently a university-college).

The Nipissing Lakers from North Bay, in Mark's words, are "likely to field a men's basketball program by 2009-10."

That would bring the OUA from 16 to 18 teams. Since each team is paired with a division rival for scheduling purposes (for instance, Ottawa and Carleton will almost always play the same two teams every weekend), three divisions of six might be more feasible. In that case, the OUA could adopt the Canada West playoff format, holding a Final Four between a host school and three division champions to decide its representatives for the CIS Final 8.
Random observations from the weekend...


Less than bullish on the Bisons: Manitoba reportedly tried to keep it even-keel after beating the Huskies. After all everyone remembers how it went down last year. Factor in the Huskies' four missed field goals and the U of M taking 11 penalties for 108 yards and it seems like Saskatchewan would stand an excellent chance in a Hardy Cup rematch.


The AUFC wins back some credibility: Turns out writing in our SMU preview that "the best thing Saint Mary's can do this season is be competitive in the interlock vs. Concordia" was the understatement of the year. The Huskies took the Stingers to overtime in Montreal last season, so in hindsight the a Saint Mary's win should not have come as a big shock, but to see the Huskies run off 31 straight points and give up no interceptions or sacks, that's an eye-opener.

Acadia, meantime, went into Montreal and pulled out a 45-44 win over McGill. James Michener kicked the winning field goal for the Axemen, but the endgame was straight out of Edgar Allan Poe for the Redmen. Their QB Matt Connell had a conference-record 536 yards passing, authored two late drives to put his team ahead, then watched as the defence couldn't stop Acadia and Keith Lockwood from getting in field goal range.

In the famous Harvard-Yale tie in 1968 (Harvard scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds for an upset, inspiring the iconic "Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29" headline), Yale's two offensive stars, Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill, reportedly asked the coaches to put them in on defence when Harvard was rallying. A fan can only wonder if Connell thought abot doing so, but he'd already been the passer or ballcarrier on 65 of McGill's 74 plays and handled the punting chores. Laval QB Benoît Groulx would seldom be asked to handle that kind of workload.

Anyone know why the Redmen didn't go for a two-point convert after scoring to go up by one with 43 seconds left?

Lacking PEPS: The Rouge et Or have averaged 15,758 fans after two home games. That's great for anyone else but raises eyebrows for a program that's regularly packed 18,000 fans into PEPS Stadium. Is this as a case of killing the golden goose? The Rouge et Or being head and shoulders above most of their foes might be keeping people from coming out.


Blowout weekend: Four of five OUA games had a spread of 30 points or more, so there's not much to say about the games in Central Canada. (The Queen's-Windsor post is over at Out of Left Field.) Time was, a ranked Laurier team could play a ranked Waterloo team and both teams would actually get in the end zone.

Fun factoid: Queen's running back Mike Giffin (or as one august broadsheet called him, Mike Griffin) has nine touchdowns -- as many as the entire Western Mustangs team.

If he can't do it, nobody can: A commenter at Out of Left Field notes that the Ottawa Gee-Gees might have lost their best D-lineman, end Dan Kennedy, for the season. Kennedy didn't play in the Gee-Gees' romp over winless York.

In praise of going down swinging: Western coach Greg Marshall, now 0-4 after a 31-17 home loss to Guelph gets a slow clap for trying to make something happen by going for it on third-and-1 at his team's 39-yard line early in the third quarter. Someone on the Mustangs had to make something happen with Guelph ahead by seven. Teams should go for it on third-and-short (or fourth-and-short) more often. The 'Stangs, however, got stuffed and Guelph's Nick FitzGibbon broke a 38-yard touchdown run to ice the game.

The Mustangs have 383 more yards of offence than they have allowed. Bad luck or bad chemistry?

Players of the week: McGill's Connell on offence (honourable mention to FitzGibbon, who scored four touchdowns and had 173 rushing-receiving yards). On defence, it's Regina's Steve Wilson, with Mount Allison's Gary Ross taking the special teams nod after racking up 194 yards and his second punt return for a touchdown in a win over St. FX.

Top 10's movers and shakers (or, reading minds): Manitoba and Saskatchewan trade places at Nos. 2 and 4, since the Ottawa Gee-Gees are hampered from moving up from No. 3 by a soft early schedule. Saint Mary's and Queen's scoot up to 6-7, Concordia falls to No. 8 and Montreal's drop out of the Top 10 buys Waterloo another week in the rankings, with Bishop's or Regina as the newbies. (Personal preference is for the Gaiters, who are only a couple plays from a 3-0 start.)

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to
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