Football: Teeing up Week 8

The five games the matter most:

Acadia at No. 4 Saint Mary's (5:30 Friday, The Score): The Axemen are likely the biggest enigma in the CIS outside of Montreal (the Carabins and the Concordia Stingers). How close are they to where they were in 2005, and how close are they to having fall behind SMU?

The Huskies can clinch home field straight through to the Uteck Bowl on Nov. 17 with a win.

McMaster at Guelph (1 p.m. Saturday): It's worth noting the Marauders will be playing on real grass for only the second time this season and lost the first time (at Queen's in Week 3). The winner of this one, of course, hosts the OUA quarter-final between these teams next week.

Mac, due to inexperience and injuries, particularly to fifth-year senior QB Adam Archibald, has run hot and cold in the passing game all season. Now they're playing on an unfamiliar track, with a drop-back quarterback, against a Gryphons defence that is second in the country in sacks (23) and interceptions (14). Rookie d-back Sebastian Howard has an OUA-best six picks. (Fun fact: Howard is from Niagara Falls, which used to be in McMaster's backyard for recruiting.)

Guelph is allowing 71 fewer yards per game through the air than in 2006, likely the biggest improvement across the country.

Western at Waterloo (1 p.m. Saturday, The Score): The winner faces Queen's in the OUA quarter-final in Kingston next week. Honestly, judging by Waterloo's alleged showing last week vs. the Golden Gaels, it's hard to imagine them regrouping and beating the Mustangs.

Western, by the way, leads the OUA in offence and defence and is 3-4. Anyone have a better way to rank units instead of yards gained?

No. 7 Regina at No. 3 Manitoba (2 p.m. Saturday): It's time to see how legit the young Rams and their score-in-bunches offence are vs. the much more experienced herd of Bisons. Manitoba, like Ottawa, has kind of projected a humble exterior, like a poker player who knows he's got a killer hand. The veteran secondary with Bob Reist and Brady Browne should be able to set the pace vs. Regina's receivers. Regina's made strides on defence since a 36-13 season-opening loss to Manitoba, but their defensive linchpin, Steve Wilson, is coming off an injury.

Regina QB Teale Orban needs two TD passes to break the Canada West career mark held by former Calgary Dinos star Greg Vavra.

Bishop's at Laval (1 p.m., Sunday): The Rouge et Or are starting to get some of their hammers back on both the offensive and defensive lines. This is probably a "no, not yet" game for the reborn Gaiters.

Gaiters tailback Jamall Lee had a 93-yard touchdown run vs. Laval as a rookie in 2005, which represents almost half his total in three career meetings.

Also of note:
  • Laurier has created the Chris Worden Memorial Fund in honour of the slain RCMP officer and former Golden Hawks fullback/special teams player.
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