Greg Marshall returned to the University of Western Ontario and won back-to-back OUA football championships in his first two seasons. Should that not make him someone the Argos would be interested in as head coach? -- Sun Media

The Toronto Star's Damien Cox used a similar tack on TSN's The Sports Reporters, which means they might have missed it during Vanier Cup week when Laval's Glen Constantin made his "10 years at $100,000 or one year at $300,000" line.

Why would Marshall want to leave? His salary, according to the online scuttlebutt, is in the $125,000-$130,000 range. The incoming athletic director, Therese Quigley, is the same one whom he worked with at McMaster. He has the job for as long he wants, he is coaching his son, Donnie Marshall (the backup QB last season) and he's regarded a god in London. Some would say he's with a far more professional organization than he was with in Hamilton from 2004-06.

Half the teams in the CFL have made or are making a coaching change. Three of the other four teams had someone in his first year on the job this season. The B.C. Lions, under Wally Buono, are the only team which has had the same coach since way back in 2006.

That's the reality of pro football, and it ain't pretty.

(Thanks to Greg Layson for the tip.)

Rankings are from our RPI, with the coaches' top 10 in brackets.

  1. Simon Fraser (#1 in the coaches poll): 90-53 and 103-57 over TRU at home. 20 points for Kate Hole in the first game and 21 for Robyn Buna in the second. SFU shot 53% on Saturday and that's really all you can say about two games against the 36th-ranked team.

  2. Saskatchewan (#4): Beat Winnipeg by a lot on Saturday despite not scoring any points and having no players on the court. Well, that's what the boxscore says. The Huskies' recap says their leading scorers were "Lindsay Copeland with 17, Kim Tulloch with 15 and Lauren Whyte with 11." As for Friday, the game for which the CIS is less of a joke, seems like an interesting one: beat Manitoba by 8, but it looks like it was closer than that, and eleven Huskies managed to score. Jana Spindler stood out with 17.

  3. Windsor (#3): Scored 31 in the third quarter against RMC, who managed just 46 in all four. 21 in 15 minutes for Dranadia Roc and the Lancers were 7/16 from long range, but it's RMC. Queen's didn't fare much better the next night, losing by 20. Kind of an off-night for Windsor, shooting just 38% from the field, but Emily Abbott bucked the low-percentage trend and picked up 13 (2/4 from long range, 2/3 from the field, 3/3 from the line).

  4. Alberta (#5): Won both games at home. Every Panda on the roster scored against Winnipeg in a 92-47 mauling on Friday night. The Wesmen had 11 rebounds in the U of A's end; Ashley Wigg had ten of her own and that tells you about all you need to know. Wigg also scored 13. Last night's game was a 75-53 win over Manitoba in which Wigg led the team with 19.

  5. Victoria (#9): Beat UBC in their only scheduled game for the weekend, 71 to 40. Kayla Dykstra's 20 points and 18 rebounds were nearly enough on their own, although she was only 8 of 23 from the field. That's four in a row for the Vikes, although only the last was against a decent team.

  6. Memorial (#8): Mere hours ago, knocked off Acadia at home, 73-66. This comes a day after their big win over the Axewomen. Victoria Thistle (27 points, 8 rebounds in 32 minutes) and Alexandria Forsey (17 including 14 as she went 7/9 from the field) led the Sea-Hawks today.

  7. Calgary (#7): No games scheduled.

  8. UBC (NR): Friday's loss to UVic was "the worst suffered [at home] by the T-Birds since the 2003-04 season" and I suspect they'll be shuffled out of the top 10 for that.

  9. Regina (#2): Beat Brandon twice, by 7 on Friday (in overtime) and by 48 on Saturday (not in overtime). The Bobcats must have put all their effort into the first five quarters of the weekend. Chelsea Cassano had 20 on Friday; Jessica Lynch had 17 but added 19 boards. Jacquie Kenyon (a Clan member in a past life) scored 13 on Saturday without missing a shot.

  10. Toronto (NR): Along with a 30% shooting percentage, the third quarter killed their chances on Friday against the Badgers: outscored by 12 en route to a 19-point loss. Tara Kinnear contributed 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Last night, U of T beat Guelph 83-73 behind another double-double from Kinnear, 12 from Erin McNeely, and 25 from Alaine Hutton.

Other Top 10 teams as per the coaches: Winnipeg (20th in RPI) lost by 30 to the U of S and that was their close game; Cape Breton (15th) beat UNB 83-50 (32 in 32 for Kelly Hodgson) but lose ten University Points for putting an apostrophe in "Sports Teams."

Top performances of the week against non-RMC teams (explanation here):
25.3, Taylor Smith (McMaster, 11/29 vs. Laurentian)
19.2, Melanie Thompson (Brandon, 11/28 vs. Regina)
19.2, Jessica Lynch (Regina, 11/28 at Brandon)
18.3, Ashley Wigg (Alberta, 11/28 vs. Winnipeg)
18.2, Tara Kinnear (Toronto, 11/29 vs. Guelph)
  1. Carleton (1) — The Ravens won by seven at Waterloo Saturday, despite the Warriors shooting a very solid 48% and keeping Stu Turnbull in check (2-for-18; he got his 11 of his 15 points on the foul line).

    Mike Kenny (23 points on 7-of-9 from three-point range) and Kevin McCleery (16 points, 12 rebounds) were the main cogs on offence. McCleery's spot-up shooting from about 15-16 feet out has given Carleton another wrinkle on offence, particularly the ability to go to a high-low game or open some space for their wings.

    The Ravens did it again to another top scorer in Friday's 78-55 win over Laurier. The Golden Hawks' Kale Harrison, a legit 20-point scorer, was held to four points on 2-of-9 shooting, which is testament to Carleton's adaptability, and their wing defenders such as Turnbull and Rob Saunders.

    An odd aspect of Carleton's game this season: They're struggling at the foul line (13th in the OUA), after being top four in the conference the past two seasons and top four in the country the two seasons previous.
  2. UBC (2) — One could read Friday's 72-65 win over UVic as a character win for the Thunderbirds (11-1 in Canada West). Josh Whyte had a solid night against his old team with 14 points, game-high seven assists and six rebounds, and was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, while Blain Labranche was instant offence with 11 points in 19 minutes.
  3. St. Francis Xavier (7) — Guards Tyler Richards (26 points) and Christian Upshaw (20) helped the Atlantic's best team hit a hundred vs. UPEI in 20-point win Saturday.

    X held off Saint Mary's 76-71 in a Thursday night game, with Ottawa native Dwayne Johnson recording a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double. They look like best team down East, but it's early.
  4. Calgary (8) — Has a two-game trip to Carroll College in Montana next weekend.
  5. Windsor (5) — Queen's big man Mitch Leger sank a game-deciding three in the closing seconds, giving Queen's an upset 61-59 win and sticking Windsor with its second straight weekend split on the road. Queen's is not the biggest team around, but they outrebounded the Lancers by 14 and cashed in when player-of-the-year shortlister Greg Surmacz clanked some free throws down the stretch. This will probably get covered off at Out of Left Field since it's Queen's-centric, but it's a big, big win for coach Rob Smart's young team.

    Since Chris Oliver took over the Lancers, they've always had troubles with his former team. Queen's lost by 10 and 11 points in games at Windsor, and took the Lancers to overtime in a game in Kingston in '06-07.

    Windsor frosh point guard Ellis Ffrench, a much ballyhooed recruit, got his first minutes of the OUA season on Friday and ended up scoring 13 points in 10 minutes in that 114-40 laugher vs. RMC.
  6. Ottawa (6) -- Won twice this weekend to finish the first half tied with Carleton for the OUA's best record. They should change places with Windsor in the polls and in the R.P. RPI, whom they have beaten this seaso.

    Dax Dessureault (27 points, 11 rebounds) and lead guard Josh Gibson-Bascombe (26 and 12) carried the freight vs. Laurier in a 79-71 win on Saturday.

    In case you're wondering, the West went 34-30 in the cross-over games, but that includes eight wins over RMC that should almost be set aise.
  7. UVic (3) -- As noted, lost by seven to UBC on Friday. Putting up 30 three-point shots is not going to get it done, but they probably don't need that pointed out.
  8. Concordia -- Shooting guard Damian Buckley's 25 points carried the Stingers past Bishop's 59-51 Saturday, as it proved tougher for them in the second game after 102-61 rout on Friday.
  9. Dalhousie -- Has the bye in the Atlantic this week; back at it Jan. 8 vs. Acadia.
  10. Western -- The Mustangs, thanks to Windsor's loss, is alone atop the OUA West. The hot hand of Alex Brzozowicz (19 points, including 5-of-10 on threes) and some tough defence (26 turnovers) enabled the 'Stangs to beat Queen's 72-57 on Friday.

    Sophomore guard Ryan Barbeau, with 15 points in 25 minutes, had a nice homecoming to Eastern Ontario. They hung a hundred on RMC, don't worry.
Among the ARVers
  • McGill (4th in RPI) was swept by Laval (100-90 at home, 98-81 on the road). It shouldn't have come as a shock, given as Jacques Paiement's Rouge et Or had the 10th-best RPI coming into the week.
  • Brock has now lost four straight after losses to Ryerson (85-66) and Toronto (88-64). The young Badgers will probably be better off in the long run for nights like those — learning experience, eh. It was only a nine-point spread through three quarters against Ryerson, which was an improvement on being down 30 at that point vs. U of T.
  • U of T (9th in RPI), who is going to heard from in the OUA East come January, had a big night from Ahmed Nazdi (26 points, 16 rebounds) in Saturday's 12-point win over Guelph. They had six double-figure scorers Friday vs. Brock.
  • Waterloo, behind Cam McIntyre's 29 points — the first big scorer in a while who's been able to get his against Carleton — played the Ravens tough. That will help their rep, although you can't be too happy to lose at home.
  • Regina's Top 10 buzz ebbed just a bit with a split at Brandon, both two-point games. The Cougars won 86-84 Saturday after a last-second 91-89 loss in the first game. Stevens Marcellin dropped in the game-winning layup for the Bobcats with three seconds left, moments after a game-tying three.
  • The mere fact the Saint Mary's played St. FX tough on Thursday (X won 76-71) means they're going to have to be watched closely in January. Huskies coach Ross Quackenbush can coach the hell out of teams.
The 2-hole is becoming the Bermuda Triangle. Trois-Rivieres was upset 2-1 in overtime Friday by Queen's, whom it beat by six goals at its own barn last week. Rob Pettapiece's RPI is in brackets:
  1. Alberta (3) – Forward Jesse Gimblett scored the shootout winner Saturday to top off a two-game sweep at UBC, 6-2 and 2-1.

    The Golden Bears play over the holidays in the SAIT tournament (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) on Jan. 2-3.
  2. UQTR (2) – Linemates Jonathan Boutin and Alexandre Demers each had three-point days Saturday in a 6-3 road win at RMC that salvaged a weekend split. The bottom line is Trois-Rivieres has a great goal differential and has taken 31 of a possible 34 points; they're pretty solid in the No. 2 spot.

    It was Brady Morrison 2, Trois-Rivieres 1 on Friday. The Queen's goalie made 48 saves to help the Gaels pull out two unexpected points.
  3. Saskatchewan (10) – The Huskies (11-4-1) finished their first-half schedule last weekend; they'll be at Lakehead's tournament the week after Christmas.
  4. Moncton (7) – The Aigles Bleus won just one of their final five games of the first half after Friday's 3-1 loss to UNB, which just speaks to the toughness of the Atlantic conference. Remi Doucet had a game-high eight shots on goal Friday and didn't score, ouch.
  5. UNB (6) – This week could not have worked out any better for the V-Reds. Their two wins and a Saint Mary's loss gave them the best record in the Atlantic (9-2-2, actually tied for first but with a game in hand over Moncton and two over SMU).

    Ben Macfarlane, the St. Thomas goalie, stopped 42-of-44 UNB shots in that 3-2 Varsity Reds win on Saturday. He made 10 saves alone in overtime to get his team a point.

    New Brunswick will play defending NCAA champion Boston College Jan. 2-3 in Frederiction.
  6. Laurier (1) – Crafty centre Mark Voakes (anyone who's got six goals and 22 assists counts as crafty) had a four-point night Saturday to help the Golden Hawks beat Ontario Tech 6-3. Laurier has scored 42 goals over its last eight games, five per night; usually you only see that from Trois-Rivieres in the OUA.

    Laurier spotted York the first two goals Thursday, but Jean-Michael Rizk got a big goal late in the first and the Golden Hawks pumped in five in the second stanza on the way to a 7-3 win.
  7. Saint Mary's (5) – One assumes the Huskies were just flat in Saturday's 6-1 loss at St. FX, which beat a ranked team for the second straight week. The X-Men scored goals 1:22 apart early on. Saint Mary's had eight minutes of power-play time in the second, and went from being down 2-0 to down 5-0. Hey, it happens.

    Phil Mangan (gotta pump any Kingston-area player who never got a fair shake from the Frontenacs) scored for St. FX in the game.

    Saint Mary's hammered UPEI 7-2 on Thursday.
  8. Lakehead (4) – Swept Guelph, 6-4, 6-3, tallying seven power-plays goals (and a big short-hander from Kris Hogg in the first game.
  9. UPEI (NR) – This is something a ranked team wouldn't do -- lose by five goals at home to Saint Mary's. SMU has outscored the Panthers 14-4 in their three meetings. That's not good.

    UPEI, which now has a negative goal differential, is done conference-wise until Jan. 9.
  10. Acadia (NR) – Philippe Bertrand's second of the night, with 4:56 left, was the decider in the Axemen's 6-5 win over Dalhousie to close out their first-half schedule.
For the top 10 RPI teams:
  • Waterloo (8th RPI) hosts York on Sunday with a chance to give the OUA Far West three teams with double-digit wins.
  • Windsor (9th RPI) ended up splitting with Brock. The second game was called with 15 minutes left when Badgers goalie Kurt Jory's neck was cut by a skate. Jory, a rookie from Brandon, Man., will apparently be OK, but it was serious enough to warrant Brock coach Kevin Hamlin staying with him at the hospital.

    (Thanks to Big Man on Campus, Greg Layson, for the link.)
  • McGill started slowly, but after beating Ryerson 9-2 on Saturday to complete a four-point weekend in Toronto, they're 7-2-1 in their last 10. You knew the Redmen wouldn't struggle forever. It's hard to come up with 10 teams who are playing better than they have over the past 2-3 weeks.
Laval has made its pitch to host the next two Vanier Cups.
  • Laval would host the game in 2009 and '10. This is a sticking point since Stade PEPS will not have lights until 2010; the school would not be obligated to push up the date for their installation.
  • The event would be the weekend before the Grey Cup. This could be a non-starter since after all, one league (cough, Ontario) persists in having an extra layer of playoffs. Canada West already starts its season in August to fit in an eight-game schedule for a seven-team (for now) league.
  • They'd like an answer before the Christmas holidays.
Honestly, it would be understandable if people believe Laval is overplaying its hand ... Rouge et Or president Jacques Tanguay has more vision in his pinky than a lot of sports-admin types in this country have in their entire bodies, but it might the Balsillie effect ... people don't look feeling pushed.

A Vanier Cup in Québec City is overdue. Consider the fact that RDS drew three times the TV audience that The Score did for last Saturday's Western-Laval championship game. Maybe it should be played there every season.

(Three times the audience, really.)

Le Coupe si ... (Jean-François Tardif, Le Soleil)
McMaster's fifth-year star Lindsay Degroot, who has the highest scoring and rebounding averages in the history of the Marauders women's program, had lower back surgery Thursday, ending her final season after just three games.
"Despite some of the challenges I have faced with my knee and now my lower back, I have been really fortunate. I have been a part of a a team that
captured three Ontario West championships, two OUA championships and a CIS
bronze medal. Moving forward I am going to finish my Psychology degree at
McMaster, and look at opportunities to continue my studies at the graduate
level and perhaps play basketball professionally. We will see what happens
next term."
Mac is soldiering on fairly well without Degroot -- they're 5-3, good for a second-place tie in the OUA West coming into a home weekend vs. Laurientian and York. Point guard Taylor Smith, who's tied for the OUA lead in assists (6.1), seems to have picked up some of the slack (granted, this is coming from someone who has seen Mac play in person once, and Smith happened to hit the winning free throws with less than five seconds left in a one-point win over Carleton). Mac is now down seven players and its coach from what was arguably the best team to come out of the OUA this decade, so if they manage to be in the top half of the OUA West, that will be some feat.
This is dictionary-definition ass-talking, but strictly for grins, it's worth sharing that the blog America Least would really like to see the University of Maine look north for its next basketball coach:
"You know how every year NCAA teams take a trip up to Canada and play schools and lose or only win by one point? Well, the school they are usually losing to is Smart's. This season they knocked off Northeastern, South Alabama and Buffalo. They only lost to Kansas by one. Yes, of course one will argue that the NCAA teams are playing everyone so players get game experience and would kill them in a "real game," but you have to respect that Carleton is giving them a challenge and putting a good product on the floor no matter who they play.

"Winning is winning, and Smart has won. I think the link between Maine and Canada would be very beneficial to the university. The hockey team goes up there all the time, why not basketball? Maine is practically Canada anyways. The players will be used to cold weather and nothing to do on campus."
Please, please don't read anything more into this than a respectful nod to the Canadian university game.

The really important question is whether there is really that little to do on the Carleton campus? That might have subconsciously influenced a certain Eastern Ontario boy's university choice in 1996, although back in those days, Homecoming parties were relatively tame -- not a car-burning in sight.
"Brad Rootes, who spent the past two months playing professional basketball in eastern Europe, is now assistant coach of the Brock Badgers’ men’s hoops squad.

The 24-year-old Niagara Falls native is one step closer to reaching his eventual goal: Becoming head coach of the team, which he led to its second national basketball championship in the spring.
Rootes, the lynchpin of the unlikeliest Final 8 champion since the late '90s, had a stint in the Ukraine. The story details that it didn't necessarily agree with him, but then again, as anyone who saw the nationals in Ottawa might saw, Mr. Brock Badger wasn't meant to be schlepping around Europe to play basketball -- he was meant to be in the Niagara Region. One wishes him all the best in his coaching career.

Rootes back from professional basketball stint in Europe; Becomes assistant coach of men's basketball team at Brock (Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review)
The rumbling seems to be John Bloomfield knew football, but struggled to satisfy the people he was supposed to please off the field.

Bloomfield's ouster, with two seasons left on his contract, cannot just be for football reasons. St. Francis Xavier was a couple plays away from beating Saint Mary's in either of the past two Loney Bowls and they have more talent than they did 4-5 years ago. Obviously, someone higher up must have been ticked off at him, and when that happens, they can do whatever they want. On a personal level, firing a coach with a family four weeks before Christmas might seem like poor form, but if St. FX felt the situation could not persist, then the best timing is to do it ASAP.

Bloomfield had great success as a high school coach in the Windsor area. The Lancers, though, are set for a coach and offensive co-ordinator ...

Bloomfield sacked at St. Francis Xavier (Monty Mosher, Halifax Herald)
There has been a lot of talk around Waterloo Region lately about the fate of WLU's aging pool, set to close a month from now because the school can't afford the renovations needed to keep it up to standards.

It's been known for a while that the pool needs repair. In July, The Record reported that it was using water at a rate of a thousand litres per day more than a similarly-sized pool with better upkeep. Approximately $2.2 million is needed for repair costs, and the university has been unsuccessful in raising that money. And as you'd expect, no pool on campus means the swim team is...well, certainly dry, but maybe not all that high. Student-athletes are already considering transferring to other schools.

However, today we see a possible "life raft" from that other university down the road:

UW athletic director Bob Copeland admitted his school has plans to build a multimillion-dollar aquatic complex that could fill the void, but won't say when or even if the project will break ground.
(Waterloo wants to build another multimillion-dollar complex? Of course they do.)

Laurier should be okay with this--they didn't bother talking to governments about funding the pool because of rumours of a UW facility, and here we have not just rumours, but plans--although it's not clear what will happen in the short term. Waterloo's facilities aren't available at convenient times for Laurier's athletes, otherwise they'd help them out there. Also, there's a tournament scheduled to take place at WLU on January 24 and I won't pretend to know if they have an alternate site planned for that.

Hopefully this all shakes out such that those who want to swim and compete can still do so, but it would just be too precious from this point of view if WLU's world-class swim team ended up using the University of Waterloo's new facilities as their "home." Can you major in karma at Laurier?

WLU plans to close Region's only Olympic-length pool [Karen Kawawada, The Record]
Hope fades for Laurier pool [Greg Mercer, The Record]
Pool's future bleak [Jeremy Trembley, WLU's The Cord Weekly]
Plug pulled on Laurier swim team [Christine Rivet, The Record]
UW can't say too much as clock ticks on Laurier pool [Christine Rivet, The Record]
Doing damage control for Canadian Interuniversity Sport this week would be a great project for some public relations students. That song from the fictional rocker Aldous Snow in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall -- "We Gotta Do Something" -- is hard to purge from one's head today.

Jeff Blair teed off in his debut as a general sports columnist in Monday's editions of The Globe & Mail:
"There is no virtue in holding the Vanier Cup as a stand-alone event, as was shown by Saturday's crowd of 13,873 of Ivor Wynne Stadium. Last year's Vanier Cup surely felt as if it were at home on the Friday before the Grey Cup at the Rogers Centre."
Waterloo, Ont., columnist Al Coates ties the lack of a host to the Laval problem, quote-unquote:
"...the imbalance and disparity remain no matter the circumstance. The fans, as always, will vote with their feet and their wallets -- the announced Ivor Wynne crowd of 13,873 was one of the smallest Vanier Cup crowds in the past two decades, which perhaps tells you all you need to know."
Sun Media's Morris Dalla Costa
brings forth some ideas for how to get more fans out to the game.

"The exact number of tickets sold for the game at Ivor Wynne Stadium for the national university championship was 13,873. That's about 4,700 more than attend a regular-season, run-of-the-mill, Friday night, little-at-stake London Knights game at the John Labatt Centre.

"You could call it embarrassing, but what's the point?"
The status quo is not enough. Quebec City might be the place to go for one year, but after that, maybe it's time to stop dancing around the Obvious Pole and partner up with the Grey Cup. The audience is only so large for Canadian football. They might as well be together.

Vanier Cup deserving of better (Morris Dalla Costa, Sun Media)
Canadian university football has a real hot potato on its hands (Al Coates, Kitchener-Waterloo Record)
News about Carleton's possible revival football has come out in drabs and drips ... the campus newspaper had a story today.
"It's been an opportune time to explore the feasibility of the program returning," he said. "I believe Dr. Runte (Carleton's president) is open to the possibility of it coming back."— Kevin McKerrow, Old Crow Society (Carleton football alumni)
No formal application has been made to the OUA. It is understood it would take at least 18 months from that point before the team enters the league.

Alumni push for football revival (Carleton Charlatan)
Mike Koreen, who's done a bang-up job in his first few months as Kingston Whig-Standard sports editor, reports something about Queen's coach Pat Sheahan that frankly, no one knew about it — he was dealing with his father Joseph's stroke during the season:
" 'He didn't even let the coaches know (about his father).We had to find out on our own accord," offensive co-ordinator Warren Goldie said. 'We encouraged him that some things in life were more important than football and he had to take care of them. He managed it the best he could.

" 'He never took 24 straight hours off. He went down when it first happened and he took morning road trips.... He's definitely a family guy and in the intensity of the regular season, he was able to juggle those things.' " — Kingston Whig-Standard
God grant any of us the strength when we're confronted with that kind of situation.

Gaels' Sheahan finally captures top coach award (Mike Koreen, Kingston Whig-Standard)
This is the first of many weekly editions of The CIS Blog Top 10 for men's and women's basketball, volleyball, and hockey.

The next three paragraphs explain the rankings, which you can skip to below if you don't care for the details.

Our Top 10 is based on RPI ("ratings percentage index" or "relative power index" depending on who you ask), which takes a team's record (weighted at 25%), its' opponents' record (50%), and its' opponents' opponents' record (25%) and produces a number that roughly tells you how "good" that team is. The more games that are played, the more accurate RPI becomes.

Home-field advantage is also accounted for here: a team that wins on the road is awarded 1.4 wins instead of 1; a team that wins at home only gets 0.6 wins. Losses at home count as 1.4 losses; losses on the road are 0.6. If a game ends in a tie, the home team receives 0.3 wins and the road team receives 0.7. Some pre-season games were at neutral sites, so no home-field adjustment was made.

Each team in the top 10 nationwide is listed below, along with its actual W-L record and RPI. Unless otherwise noted, the results are based only on regular-season games. All standings are current as of the date shown.

MEN'S BASKETBALL (pre- and regular-season results)
1. Carleton (11-1), .633
2. UBC (12-1), .618
3. Victoria (9-4), .584
4. McGill (10-3), .578
5. Windsor (8-3), .576
6. Ottawa (12-2), .572
7. StFX (10-2), .558
8. Calgary (12-1), .555
9. Toronto (7-6), .550
10. Laval (3-7), .546

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL (pre- and regular-season results)
1. Simon Fraser (11-1), .631
2. Saskatchewan (10-3), .626
3. Windsor (12-2), .601
t-4. Victoria (7-6), .582
t-4. Alberta (14-3), .582
6. Memorial (4-3), .567
7. Calgary (11-5), .558
8. UBC (6-10), .552
9. Regina (12-4), .550
10. Toronto (7-7), .543

1. Laurier, .583
2. UQTR, .575
3. Alberta, .557
4. Lakehead, .543
5. Saint Mary's, .541
6. UNB, .536
7. Moncton, .534
8. Waterloo .533
9. Windsor, .531
10. Saskatchewan, .526

1. Moncton, .592
2. Laurier, .585
3. Manitoba, .581
4. Alberta, .579
5. McGill, .550
6. StFX, .542
7. Guelph, .530
8. Queen's, .520
t-9. St. Thomas, 0.518
t-9. Dalhousie, 0.518

1. Alberta (8-0), .663
2. McMaster (9-0), .599
3. Queen's (7-2), .581
4. Calgary (5-3), .568
t-5. Trinity Western (5-1), .567
t-5. Laval (7-0), .567
7. Thompson Rivers (3-5), .552
8. UBC (3-3), .543
9. Dalhousie (7-1), .542
10. Western (6-3), .533

1. Western (9-1), .645
2. Montreal (14-0), .620
3. Calgary (6-2), .610
4. Alberta (9-1), .609
5. York (8-0), .603
6. McGill (10-4), .581
7. McMaster (7-2), .577
t-8. Manitoba (7-3), .571
t-8 Laval (10-3), .571
10. Toronto (5-4), .558

Basketball looks about right: for the men, Brock's early success was against some pretty weak opposition and they're only 24th in the country (not shown), or 11th out of 16 in Ontario. And Carleton's in first as usual. The women's list confirms that the west is dominating and that Windsor has taken over Mac's spot as the Ontario team to beat.

Others can fill in the blanks for hockey and volleyball. Football is here.

If you'd like to see the complete list for any of these sports, send me an e-mail (contact info here) or ask nicely in the comments below. Questions, comments, and modest monetary rewards are welcomed.
"Then there's hosting the showcase event in Quebec City, something (the Laval Rouge et Or) are likely to do in 2009 with official approval expected for their plan at Canadian Interuniversity Sport's board meetings Dec. 1-2." — The Canadian Press
It might as well go to Laval, which wanted to host the game in 2007 and '08. There is actually more

Laval looks forward to record-tying sixth Vanier Cup title, other options (Shi Davidi, The Canadian Press)
This week, we'll use RPI rankings for our Top 10 teams. These are from before the weekend's games and include preseason matchups. Updated RPI standings will come out tomorrow.

  1. Simon Fraser (#1 in the coaches' poll): Beat UBC by four points on the road, then enjoyed it so much, they did it again on the mountain. Laurelle Weigl narrowly missed making the list of top performances, but had a great game Saturday night. 25 points: 8 of 14 from the field, 9 of 10 on free throws. They would need it, as UBC tied the game at 72 with three minutes left before the Clan pulled away.
  2. Saskatchewan (#4): The Huskies won both games at home against Calgary, 81-64 and 79-73. The Friday nighter was better in terms of individual performances, with Jana Spindler picking up 16 points and 10 boards.
  3. Windsor (#3): Beat York by 20 and Laurentian by 19. Neither score was unexpected. Alisa Wulff played really well on Friday: 3/7 from long range, 5/10 from the field, 5/5 from the line, and 10 boards.
  4. Alberta (#5): Almost not even worth mentioning their trip to Lethbridge. 81-42 and 86-64. They shot 60% from the field on Saturday and Ashley Wigg nearly outscored the Pronghorns. Okay, not really.
  5. uOttawa (not ranked): Well, that weekend was unexpected. Two losses. At home. To #35 Brock and #39 Guelph. The Gee-Gees shot 32% against the Gryphons and only managed 53 points against Brock, 24 of which came from Émilie Morasse in her 38 minutes on the floor.
  6. Victoria (#12): 65-48 and 79-39 over TWU, both at home. Saturday's score is easily one of the most lopsided so far this season. Kayla Dykstra had another weekend to remember, with 15 boards on Friday and an 8-for-11 night from the field with six more from the line on Saturday.
  7. Regina (#2): One win over TRU and another over UFV. Chelsea Cassano was off this week, but Rebecca Schmidt (36 points total) and Carmen Stewart (20 points as she took nearly half of the Cougars' foul shots on Saturday) filled in.
  8. Memorial (#8): Weather on The Rock postponed their series against Acadia to next weekend.
  9. Trinity Western (not ranked): The Spartans and Gee-Gees remind us of the fact that, this early in the season, RPI constantly self-corrects. Even though TWU knocked off the Huskies two weeks ago, it's tough to see them as a top 10 team after two losses at home, even if they were against a team as good as Victoria. Laura Craig had 22 of their 48 on Friday.
  10. Calgary (#6): Actually, Calgary and UBC were tied for 10th, so we'll do both of them here. As noted above, the Dinos were swept by Saskatchewan. They had only four assists in those two games. I don't know a lot about the finer points of basketball statistics, but that can't be right. Megan Lang, one of at least three Megans on the team, was a standout in a disappointing weekend with her 14 points, 12 from beyond the arc, on Saturday.

    UBC (not ranked): Home-and-home with SFU, covered above. During the 80-76 loss last night in Burnaby, the Thunderbirds shot 52.5% but had a hard time picking up their own rebounds. UBC was up by 7 entering the fourth on Saturday (a three-pointer missed with 18 seconds left, down 79-76) and led after every quarter on Friday except the important fourth one. Sounds like a pair of great games. Alex Vieweg led with 23 points on Friday and Leanne Evans had a double-double (13-10) on Saturday.

Winnipeg (18th in RPI), Laurentian (19), and UQAM (13) are the other members of the coaches' top 10 not in the RPI top 10. Winnipeg had no games scheduled, Laurentian was swept by Windsor and Western, and UQAM split a home-and-home with Bishop's, losing 55-36 in Lennoxville.

Top performances of the week (explanation here):

22.8, Kayla Dykstra (Victoria, 11/21 vs. Trinity Western)
22.3, Ashley Wigg (Alberta, 11/21 at Lethbridge)
22.1, Kimberly Lee (Waterloo, 11/22 vs. Toronto)
22.0, Alisa Wulff (Windsor, 11/21 at Laurentian)
21.8, Émilie Morasse (Ottawa, 11/22 vs. Guelph)
And that happened ... a second straight split weekend for No. 3 Windsor, while Trinity Western scoring star Jacob Doerksen burns his former Victoria team. Brock got rocked.
  1. Carleton (1st RPI) — From the department of strange coincidences, the Ravens were home each of the past two Saturdays and led by 17 points after one quarter each time. Aaron Doornekamp (24 points in 22 minutes) and Stu Turnbull (23 in 23) could not be stopped in Saturday's 92-67 rout of No. 9 Brock. The Ravens are at Laurier and Waterloo next weekend.
  2. UBC (2nd RPI) — The T-Birds showed their depth in two-game sweep of Simon Fraser (90-69 at home, 83-69 on the road), as all nine players in their rotation played at least nine minutes in each game. Chris Dyck totalled 42 points on 18-of-33 shooting across the two games. UBC has a single game against No. 7 UVic next weekend to close off the first half .
  3. Windsor (3rd RPI) — Defence is a concern for Lancers coach Chris Oliver after his team gave up 172 points across the two games this weekend, including 58 in the second half in Saturday's 99-91 win over York. Greg Surmacz had 33 points, nine rebounds in that one. The loss to Laurentian dropped the Lancers into a three-way tie in the OUA West at 4-2, a game behind Waterloo, but the Warriors play the top two teams in the East next week.
  4. St. Francis Xavier (5th RPI) — Third-year centre Alberto Rodriguez, a native of Havana, had a big night in X's lone game this week, an 88-76 win Saturday over UPEI. He was a rebound shy of the double-double in just 23 minutes on the floor, putting up 17 points and taking down in
  5. Calgary (9th RPI) — Scored in the 90s in a pair of wins over Saskatchewan to complete their pre-exam break schedule. The Bekkering brothers, Henry and Ross, combined for 52 points on Saturday.
  6. Concordia (6th RPI) — The home-and-home scheduling in Québec stung Concordia, which lost 68-64 to Laval in the return leg, just as it did vs. UQAM last week. The entire team shot 4-of-24 outside of guard Decee Krah and brothers Damian and Dwayne Buckley.
  7. UVic (4th RPI) — The Pacific division in Canada West, with four of the top 14 teams in the R.P. RPI (as in Rob Pettapiece), doesn't afford many if any nights off. The Vikes can readily relate after a 15-point loss to Trinity Western on Saturday. One-time UVic star Jacob Doerksen had 23 points, 11 rebounds and he and Jamie Vaughan helped bring about a 20-point swing for the Spartans in the third quarter.

    UVic won 68-61 in the first game Friday.
  8. Ottawa (8th RPI) — We will probably get a better gauge of the Gee-Gees after next week's Laurier/Waterloo trip. They got by Guelph 67-60 on defence (21 turnovers), getting to the foul line (22-of-29) and a 26-point, 10-rebound night from lead guard Josh Gibson-Bascombe (or JGB1, as some are wont to call him).
  9. Brock (32nd) — A young Badgers got their eyes opened a bit this weekend -- 20-point loss at Ottawa, 25 to Carleton Saturday. They will be dropped this week.
  10. Dalhousie (10th in RPI) — Poised to hold on to its spot or maybe move up pending its result Sunday afternoon at UNB. Blew out UPEI 94-50 on Friday.
As for the ARVers:
  • McGill (7th in RPI) was idle — our kingdom for a balanced schedule in the QSSF.
  • Cape Breton (11th) is home to Saint Mary's on Sunday. Win that one and the Capers might get more Top 10 support.
  • Western (12th) got one of the great individual outings of the week from shooting guard Brad Smith, who needed just 20 shots to score 38 points in a 104-75 win at Laurentian. For not the first or the last time, coach Brad Campbell's Mustangs are scary good.
  • Regina (30th in RPI) should get more Top 10 votes by virtue of its road wins over Thompson Rivers (89-87 in overtime Friday) and Fraser Valley (68-65 on Saturday). The Cougars don't seem to be very deep, but they tag-team opponents down low with Kris Heshka and Jamal Williams — who had 20-and-10 games this week. In the backcourt, Jeffrey "The Big" Lukomski can shoot it from anywhere and there's a savvy point guard in Paul Schubach, who played 43 of the 45 minutes vs. Thompson Rivers.

    The way it works in Canada West is that if you can come out of your division, it's a one-game shot to go to the Final 8. Anything is possible.

    (Lukomski is listed at 6-foot, 190 lbs., but I just really liked the movie.)
  • Waterloo's on top in the OUA West at 5-1. They and Laurier have yet to meet Carleton and Ottawa in the cross-over portion of the OUA sked. They're certainly a solid team.
  1. Alberta — Finishes the first-half schedule next weekend with a two-gamer at UBC (which is available at
  2. Moncton — Saint Mary's has one of the smallest rinks in the country, and Les Aigles Bleus must have been feeling especially claustrophobic after giving up six goals in the first period in Friday's 8-3 loss to No. 8 Saint Mary's. It ended up being a single-point weekend for the U de M, which lost 3-2 at St. FX on Saturday. They were down two after a period in that one, but emptied their tanks clawing back to force overtime. The X-Men's Brett Liscomb potted the OT winner.
  3. UQTR — Moncton's stumble opens the door to the Patriotes, with their 14-1-0 conference record, moving up to No. 2. They won 4-2 at Carleton Tuesday, to get back at the Ravens for dealing them their lone loss, and beat two other eastern Ontario schools by matching 7-1 scores. (Hint: The University of Ottawa was not one of those schools.)
  4. Saskatchewan —
  5. UNB — It got a little silly in Saturday's 11-2 drubbing of Dalhousie. Kyle Bailey ended up with the mortarboard trick, four goals, so if you're ever at a Varsity Reds game, throw your diploma at him. Please take it out of the frame first.

    New Brunswick beat Moncton on the Nov. 15 weekend, and now gets their rivals at home next Saturday.
  6. Acadia — Dropped its third straight, 3-2 to UPEI on Friday. Finish the first half vs. Dalhousie this Saturday, which gives them a chance to regroup.
  7. Laurier — The Golden Hawks got out of Oshawa with a 6-4 win over Ontario Tech Saturday. It was 6-0 with eight minutes left before the Ridgebacks made a late push, likely with an eye to the teams' rematch next weekend.

    Laurier scored six goals with only Jean-Michael Rizk and Mark Voakes having multi-point nights. There's some balance. One would like to see some more decisive outcomes from the No. 7 team, but a win's a win.
  8. Saint Mary's — The eastern Huskies are the alpha dogs of the week, knocking off St. Thomas 5-2 after that 8-3 win over Moncton. Cody Thornton, who was a 20-goal scorer four times in the OHL, had four goals over two games. Acadia's in a lull, so they might take their spot.
  9. Lakehead — Goalie Kyle Moir only had to make 35 saves to get the two shutouts in a pair of 3-0 wins at Brock. Of note, the man with the best last name in OUA hockey, Lakehead defenceman Kalvin Sagert, scored a goal in the second game.
  10. Waterloo — The Warriors split with a pair of OUA Mid West teams, beating Ontario Tech 3-2 in overtime Saturday with Doug Spooner factoring into all three goals. They blew a three-goal lead earlier in the week in a 5-4 loss to York.

    That's not exactly the best week to have after just breaking into the rankings.
Among the ARVers:
  • UPEI followed up its win over Acadia by beating Dalhousie 6-3 on Saturday and could pick up some more support.
  • Brock had back-to-back shutout losses.
  • One rogue voter had Manitoba in his Top 10. The Bisons were swept at Lethbridge, 3-2 in overtime and 3-1.
  • One website quibble ... in the OUA Mid East, Guelph (7-9-1) is listed in first place, even though in practical reality, it's fourth behind York (7-5-1) and Brock (6-5-3), which have four and three games in hand, respectively.
  • Rob has posted the RPI in the comments. The OUA Far West has five of the top 11 teams, so perhaps the truth is that it's not a big deal if Laurier took their foot off the gas against a Mid East team. The OUA Mid East has three of the 11 worst teams — Queen's, Ryerson and RMC.
HAMILTON — Today's Vanier Cup was an impressive victory by the Rouge et Or to be sure, as most 44-21 affairs are, but I'm not convinced that it "was never for a moment in doubt." [Shi Davidi, The Canadian Press via The Globe and Mail]. Yes, the Rouge et Or were the much stronger team all day, but they didn't actually score until less than three minutes were left in the first quarter, and that was only a field goal. They didn't get a touchdown until 7:17 of the second quarter. Perhaps we could have called it after their second touchdown just over a minute later, but you never want to discount a Greg Marshall team in the area of cardiac comebacks.

It wasn't until 41-21 early in the fourth that I felt confident enough to write Western off, and they even made me question that a couple times with near-comeback moves. Still, the best team won by quite a lot (they even covered that 19.5 point spread [James Mirtle, The Globe and Mail], which I thought was ridiculous.) There's no question that Western was considerably outclassed. Laval certainly proved that they're no paper tiger, and they look set to continue that dominance for some time to come.

Western shouldn't be in for too much criticism, though. They played hard, and they played with heart even when conditions turned rotten (er, snowy) and everything seemed to be going against them. As Davidi notes, they hung more points on Laval than any team had done yet this season (the previous high was Concordia's 17 in the Quebec final). For a few minutes, they looked like they might even be able to pull off the comeback. Laval was on another level, though, and you'd have to play perfect football to beat them. With four turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions), many of which led directly to Laval points, Western's game wasn't perfect.

Some statistical points of note:

- Western actually gained more first downs than Laval (28-19), as many of Laval's TDs came on long passes and runs.

- Laval proved they could get it done on the ground in a way they rarely had all season. They ran 25 times for 197 yards, an average of 7.9 yards per rush (granted, much of that is from Sebastien Levesque's 63-yard touchdown dash up the middle, but that's still impressive). That rushing threat opened up even more opportunities for the passing attack.

- Benoit Groulx proved to be an absolutely deserving Hec Creighton recipient. He threw for 384 yards, which would have been the second-highest total in Vanier history and the highest total in a non-overtime game. The record is still Brent Schneider from Saskatchewan, who threw for 528 yards against Western in 1994's overtime thriller (and still lost, 50-40). Interestingly enough, the previous second man on the list was Warren Goldie, Western's quarterback in 1994, who had 360 yards. He's now Queen's offensive coordinator.

- Groulx was crazily efficient, though: those yards came on only 17 completed passes (22.5 yards per catch). On the day, Groulx was 17 for 27 (62.9 per cent), which is very good considering the conditions. He threw for two touchdowns as well.

- Michael Faulds threw for even more yards than Groulx, though, taking over those numbers from him. Faulds was not as efficient; he went 37 for 65 (56.9 per cent) with two interceptions, but he did amass 403 yards and three TDs.

- Western had no running game at all. All day, they ran the ball 12 times for 34 yards (and three of those were scrambles by Faulds for 18 yards). Running back Nathan Riva rushed eight times for 16 yards (2 yards per carry), which isn't going to get it done here. With no rushing threat to worry about, Laval was able to drop more guys into coverage, and that made the passing game tougher for Western.

- Laval's passing attack was balanced. Both) Julian Feoli-Gudino and Mathieu Bouvette were over 100 yards (112 and 118 yards on four and two catches respectively), but six other receivers caught passes. Western couldn't shut them all down, and the Rouge et Or proved great at getting yards after the catch.

- Laval won the trench war. Their linemen were pressuring Faulds all day long, sacking him five times and hurrying him into bad passes countless other times. Western picked up four sacks, but on the other plays, Groulx was relatively untouched. Laval's West Coast-style offence, based around quick, short passes with the occasional deep bomb, also requires a QB to hang on to the ball for less time. Western preferred to throw longer passes, and they weren't able to give Faulds the necessary protection for that.

- The Mustangs also lost the special teams battle. Christopher Milo averaged 59.5 yards per kickoff and 40.7 yards per punt; Mustangs kicker Darryl Wheeler only averaged 49.0 and 35.4 yards respectively. Furthermore, Laval won the punt return game: they returned seven punts for 141 yards, while Western only managed to return seven punts for 83 yards. Western was better on kickoff returns, but they often were dealing with poor field position.

Overall, it was a pretty impressive showing from the Rouge et Or. They couldn't convert early on, but they didn't make many mistakes, and they capitalized whenever Western messed up. They didn't have much offence late in the game, partly due to the conditions, and that kept Western in it longer than necessary, but Laval still was dominant. They had a tremendous day and proved themselves to yet again be the class of Canadian university football. We'll have to see if anyone can challenge them next year.
Orland Kurtenblog's Mike Brough on Friday, made a modest suggestion for a possible new challenge for the Laval Rouge et Or:
hey, did you know the apple cup is tomorrow?...the victor should play whoever wins the vanier cup.
To those of you who aren't terminally addicted to NCAA 08 video game, the Apple Cup is the big in-state clash between the Washington and Washington State. Some wags have been calling it the Rotten Apple Cup, since the Huskies and Cougars brought a combined 1-20 record into the game. As you might have expected, 60 minutes was not enough to decide which team is the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked — Washington State won 16-13 in double overtime, mostly by virtue of the fact that the NCAA requires a winner.

Glen Constantin, get to work on a game plan.
Andrew's live blog is the main event today, but here's a halftime distraction for you. It's the first half drives, in a (hopefully) visually appealing way. Game starts at the top and time runs out as you move down. Laval's left-to-right in red; Western's right-to-left in purple.

I didn't get the hang of it until the second quarter, but hopefully it makes sense. Note Laval's three big drives in the second and how, for most of the half, Western was pinned in their own end.

UPDATE: Here's most of the second half. Had to stop with about 8 minutes left because it was impossible to see the hash marks through the snow. Also, the game was pretty much over by then anyway (41-21).

You can see the short drives in the fourth, possibly caused by the conditions.
1:50: Almost set for kickoff here at Ivor Wynne. A nice performance by what I believe is the Western marching band; nothing like "Great Balls of Fire", "Taking Care of Business" and "Surfing U.S.A." played by a full brass band! The stands are filling up, and it looks like we'll have a good atmosphere. Let's hope the on-field entertainment is just as strong.

2:07: The band's finished, and here come the teams. Western's in their mostly-white jerseys with silver helmets and purple numbers; Laval's got the mostly-red jerseys with gold helmets and trim on. Neither side's actually on the field yet, though; Western's waiting in the end zone and Laval isn't visible from here.

2:08: And Western runs out onto the field, surrounded by cheerleaders, one with a massive purple-and-white Mustangs flag.

2:09: Laval makes their grand entrance, with cheerleaders and a flag of their own.

2:12: Anthems are sung and we have the classic fighter fly-by. The band leaves the field and we should be set to start. Crowd looks pretty evenly split between Mustang and Rouge et Or fans; not too many neutrals, it seems, as just about everyone's in either red or purple. It's about a 3/4 full house on the opposite side; can't tell what the attendance is like on the side under the press box, as I can't see it. Ivor Wynne has a capacity of around 30,000, so if this side's around the same, that would be around 22,500, a pretty good attendance.

2:15: Laval wins the toss and elects to kick. We'll be switching to game time from here on in.

First quarter:

15:00: Christopher Milo booms a big kick, and Western's Ryan Tremblay finds a hole and takes it back 36 yards. 1 and 10 Western on their 43.

14:15: Western calls a pass play, but Laval linebacker Steve Landry breaks through and sacks Mustang quarterback Michael Faulds.

14:00: Another pass call by Western, and Faulds has time. He hits Jesse Bellamy deep for a first down. 1 and 10 Western on Laval's 47.

13:45: Faulds is hurried, but dumps off a screen pass to Nathan Riva, who picks up 8. 2 and 3 Western. Laval's getting good pressure, though.

12:55: Riva runs up the gut, but is stopped by linebacker Kelly-Joseph Hilare. No gain, and Western sends in the punt team.

12:30: Western kicker Darryl Wheeler booms a punt that bounces at around the Laval 10. Laval returns it to the 25. First and 10.

12:00: Laval QB Benoit Groulx completes a short pass to his favourite target, Julian Feoli-Gudino, who busts some yards after the catch for a first down.

11:17: Groulx finds a hole and runs up the middle himself for 22 yards. 1 and 10 Laval on the Western 46.

11:00: Laval runs the ball for four yards. 2 and 6.

10:44: Groulx finds a receiver with a short screen pass, and they pull another first down out of it. 1 and 10 Laval on Western's 26.

10:30: Groulx is rushed and throws an incompletion. Second down.

10:15: Groulx throws a short pass over the middle to Mathieu Picard, but it bounces off his hands incomplete. Third down.

10:00: Laval tries a field goal, but Milo misses from about 35 yards. Craig Butler tries to run it out but is stopped. Western will start on their 20.

9:34: Riva runs off the left tackle for a gain of 3. 2 and 7.

9:08: Faulds is hurried but completes a pass to Nick Trevail, who makes a sensational catch in tight coverage. That goes for 11 yards. 1st down Western on their own 34.

9:00: Faulds finds Jesse Bellamy wide open deep over the middle, but Bellamy can't pull it in. 2 and 10.

8:45: Faulds finds Dan Duff completely alone on a short route over the middle, and Duncan pulls it in. He takes it to the Western 54. First down. Laval needs to cover those inside routes better.

8:30: Faulds throws one too high for his receiver. 2nd down.

8:15: Faulds goes deep for Ryan Tremblay in double coverage, and it's almost picked off. Send in the punt team.

8:00: Wheeler gets a nice punt off, and it bounces past Laval's returner, who has to retreat to the 1 to pick it up. He's stopped pretty quickly, but there's a flag on the play. The officials gather to discuss it.

7:40: Looks like the call is no yards. Laval gets the ball on their own 14.

7:30: One of Western's receivers is injured, so former Mustang basketball player Jason Milliquet is now starting at wide receiver.

7:20: Laval picks up four yards on another short pass.

6:30: Groulx throws short again, but Western linebacker Adrian Kaiser comes up to make a huge stop. It's 3 and 1, and Laval will punt.

6:05: Milo's punt goes 34 yards and rolls out of bounds at the Western 52. The Mustangs will have good field position here.

5:45: Western runs a trick play. Faulds pitches to running back John Leckie, who laterals it back to him. Faulds then throws a deep bomb for Bellamy, but the defence reads it well and it's picked off. Nice play by Laval there to not bite on the fake run. 1 and 10 Laval on their own 23.

5:25: Laval runs for three yards.

4:56: Groulx throws a deep ball and his receiver makes a nice catch. First down, Laval, on their own 48.

4:40: Laval returns to the short passes, and this one to Mathieu Bouvette goes for another first down. Rouge et Or ball on Western's 42.

4:20: Groulx throws incomplete.

4:00: Groulx is almost sacked, takes off and is dragged down, but gets a shovel pass off to his runnijng back, who takes it for another first down before getting hit hard. 1st down, Laval, on the Western 27.

3:30: Laval running back Sebastien Levesque takes it off-tackle for 3 yards. 2 and 7 Laval.

3:05: Groulx throws incomplete. 3 and 7 on the 27. They'll try another field goal. Good defence by Western.

2:45: Milo hits that one from 33 yards. Laval 3, Western 0.

2:35: Western will start on their own 35.

2:30: Pass play, and Laval breaks through. J.P. Metras Trophy winner Etienne Legare gets the sack for a loss of eight.

2:00: Time-count violation, Western. It's now 2 and 23 from their own 22.

1:30: Faulds goes deep, but his throw isn't anywhere near anyone. Western will have to punt.

1:15: Western's gambling a bit too much on these long bombs; they should try pounding the ball a bit more with Riva or a few screen passes. The underneath stuff was there for them earlier.

1:15: Laval is called for roughing the kicker, but it's still 3 and 13, so Western will punt again. That's where that sack and penalty really hurt.

1:00: Nice punt by Wheeler and Laval doesn't get much of a return. They'll start on their own 36.

0:36: And Laval goes to the run, catching the Mustangs by surprise. Sebastien Levesque takes it up the middle for eight. Second and 2.

0:30: Western defensive back Craig Butler is hurt on the play. He limps off.

0:20: Levesque runs it up the middle for the first down. 1 and 10 Laval on their own 49.

0:11: Groulx goes deep for Maxime Belland, who's in double coverage but manages to find a little room. Looked like he pulled in a diving catch for a minute, but it's ruled incomplete. End of the first quarter.

Second quarter:

15:00: Groulx looks like he'll pass, but he's flushed and scrambles for eight. 3nd and 2 Laval, and they'll punt.

14:30: Great punt by Milo, 47 yards to the coffin corner. Butler is back in the game and returns it, but only gets it a few yards. 1 and 10 Western on their 19.

14:00: Western tries a run, but Laval's line breaks through and stops Riva for a loss of four. Second and 14.

13:30: Faulds completes a pass to David Bonasia, but he only gets seven. 3 and 7 Western, and they'll punt.

13:00: The punt is partly blocked, and only gets to about the 37. Laval brings it back to the 25, but there's a flag. The flag is illegal procedure against Western.

12:30: Another five is tacked on. 2 and 5 Laval on the 20.

12:00: Groulx throws deep to the end zone, but it's incomplete. They'll go for the field goal.

11:45: Milo hits the field goal. Laval 6, Western 0.

11:25: 1 and 10 Western on their own 35. Western takes a late timeout just before the ball's snapped.

11:14: Faulds completes a pass to Travail for 13. 1 and 10 Western on their own 48.

11:00: Faulds is hurried and escapes the first man, but is sacked by Jean-Philippe Gilbert. 2 and 15.

10:37: Faulds goes deep and gets hit in the process; the pass goes right to Laval's halfback, Alex Surprennant, who makes the catch and brings it back about 15 yards.

10:10: Groulx completes a decently long pass. First and 10 Laval on the Western 43.

9:40: Levesque runs for 2. 2 and 8.

9:10: Groulx goes deep over the middle to Mathieu Picard. 1 and 10 Laval on the Western 15.

8:40: Groulx has Picard open in the end zone, but overthrows him. 2 and 10.

8:15: Groulx calls a timeout as the play clock ticks down.

Some first-quarter stats: Groulx was 7 for 12 for 99 yards, Faulds 4 for 9 for 57 with a pick.

8:05: Groulx goes over the middle with a pass, and it's a nice catch at the 2. First down, Laval.

7:53: Backup QB Cesar Sanchez-Hernandez comes into the game and runs the ball in himself. Milo hits the EP and it's Laval 13, Western 0. Looks like Laval's finally finding the cracks in Western's defence. The Mustangs need to get their offence going if they want to stay in this one.

7:43: Those two picks by Faulds are looming large at the moment. Western's defence has spent a lot of time on the field, and they've done a great job, particularly in the red zone. Whenever the Mustangs get offensive momentum, they've turned it over, though. Laval had 143 yards of net offense in the first quarter to Western's 46.

7:40: Tremblay busts a nice return off of Milo's kickoff, bringing it back to the Western 36. First and 10, Western.

7:25: Faulds completes a pass to Trevail for eight, but there's a flag on the play.

7:15: And it's coming back for offensive pass interference. 1 and 25.

7:11: Faulds throws another completion to Trevail, good for 14 yards. 2 and 11.

6:45: Laval's still getting great pressure on Faulds. He scrambles and tries to throw as he's dragged down, but it falls incomplete. 3 and 11 on the Western 35, and they'll punt.

6:35: Good punt by Wheeler, but Laval's star receiver Julian Feoli-Gudino busts a 73-yard return for a TD. It's announced that that's the third-longest punt return in Vanier Cup history. Milo hits the EP and it's 20-0 Laval.

6:15: It's special teams that have been the biggest difference so far. If not for that punt block and punt return, this might still be a 6-0 game.

6:00: A great kick by Milo down to the one, but Western's special teams step up. Ryan Tremblay takes it 57 yards, and it's going to be Western ball on the Laval 47.

5:45: Faulds finds Trevail over the middle. It looks like he makes the catch, but he's hit and the ball pops out. It's recovered by Western, but ruled incomplete, not a fumble. 2 and 10.

5:30: Western goes to the air again, and Faulds finds Bellamy for about 10. They measure and then announce it as a first down. 1 and 10 Western on the Laval 37.

5:15: Faulds again finds Bellamy for about eight yards, and Bellamy makes a great move to get another seven or so. 1 and 10 Western on the Laval 25.

5:00: Two Laval linemen break through, but Faulds dumps the ball off to fullback Dan Duff, who takes it about six yards. 2 and 4.

4:30: Faulds throws incomplete. 3 and 4, and it looks like Western will kick the FG.

4:00: Wheeler hits the 26-yard FG, but there's a flag on the play. Offside, Laval. That will give Western a first down on the Laval 19. Another five yards is tacked on, probably for protesting. 1 and 10 Western on the 14.

3:30: Faulds goes to Nick Trevail in single coverage just in the end zone, and Trevail makes a great leaping grab. Touchdown, Western. Wheeler hits the PAT, and it's now Laval 20, Western 7. We might have a game on our hands here. Those penalties by Laval could be huge. An FG wouldn't change the momentum much; a touchdown could.

3:19: Good coverage by the Mustangs on this kickoff, and Kaiser steps up to make the tackle. Laval will start on their own 19.

2:58: Laval runs it up the middle, and picks up a gain of four. 2 and 6 Laval on their 24. The scoreboard's slow, and still thinks the ball's on the 14.

2:44: The Mustangs finally get some pressure on Groulx, but he's able to dump the ball off to running back Maxime Beland for 14 yards. Laval's called for holding after the play, so it's only a gain of 9. First down, Laval.

2:33: And Groulx goes deep to Feoli-Gudino. What a throw, just before he was hit. The ball must have gone about 40 yards in the air. Feoli-Gudino pulls it in at full stride and takes it in for the touchdown. It's a 82-yard play, and the second-longest reception and touchdown in Vanier history. Milo hits the EP and it's Laval 27, Western 7.

2:15: That really quieted the Western fans. Looked like they were back in this for a moment but for that tremendous play from Laval. Western doesn't get too far on the kickoff return; they'll start on their own 19.

2:10: Faulds is rushed and dumps it to slotback Mike Hegarty for a loss.

2:00: Faulds completes a pass, but it's short of the first down. Western will punt it away. Feoli-Gudino brings it back 15 yards, and it's Laval ball on the Western 38 with 1:50 to go. They could tack on another one here before the half.

1:50: Groulx completes a short pass over the middle for a first down. 1 and 10 Laval on the Western 25.

1:24: Western tackle Mike Van Praet makes a great play, breaking through the middle to sack Groulx. 2 and 16.

1:10: Groulx goes end zone, but it falls incomplete. Flag on the play.

1:05: Flag is offside against Laval, and it's declined. 3 and 16 Laval on Western's 31. Looks like they'll try a long FG. Milo misses wide left from 38 yards, and Craig Butler runs it out. 1 and 10 Western on their 20.

0:50: Faulds completes a long pass over the middle to Bellamy for 20 yards. Bellamy gets hit hard by two Laval players, but he hangs on. First down.

0:45: Faulds completes a pass to Trevail, but there's a flag on the play. Offside, Western. 1 and 15 on their own 35.

0:35: Faulds throws deep to fullback Dan Duff, who makes a great catch and takes it down to the Laval 32. He's stripped of the ball by a Laval player with a tremendous tackle from behind, though, and the Rouge et Or recover. Laval gets the ball on their own 33.

0:28: Levesque runs up the middle for a loss of one. 2 and 11 Laval on their own 34.

0:22: Pitchout to Levesque, and he runs for six yards. 3 and 4 Laval, 22 seconds on the clock. They'll punt.

0:15: Butler returns it, but doesn't get far. That ends the half. Laval 27, Western 7.


Not a good half for Western. Great defence by them at the start, but their offence got nowhere and their defence couldn't hang on forever. A couple of great special teams plays by Laval also made a difference, and the turnovers are killing the Mustangs. If Faulds doesn't throw those picks and Duff doesn't fumble, this could be a very different game.

Rob has a very interesting look at the field positions of each team here. That really shows how dominant Laval's been. They couldn't convert in the red zone until late in the half, but they've put together some great drives. Western's struggled to get anything going.

Halftime stats:

Laval has 14 first downs and 339 net yards to Western's 9 and 196. The Mustangs have zero net rushing yards on three attempts, which is brutal; I thought they'd be doing much better on the ground, but they went away from the run early and it's tough to go back to it when you're in this deep of a hole. Faulds is 16 of 24 for 215 yards and 1 TD, which isn't bad, but he also has two picks. Groulx is 13 of 21 for 274 yards and a TD. Laval's run game isn't too impressive, though: Levesque's been the main back (even though their depth chart lists him as #3), and he has 38 yards on 10 carries. A 3.8 average won't get it done in three-down football. Laval's also winning the field position battle on punts: Milo's averaging 41.7 yards per punt, while Wheeler's averaging 37.8. Not looking too good for Western's chances.

Second half:

Third quarter:

15:00: Western kicks off, and Levesque returns it to the Laval 35.

14:45: Levesque carries it up the middle for five yards. 2 and 5.

14:40: Oh, and it's snowing now. The wind's picking up as well, and the seagulls are circling, looking like vultures hovering over the almost-corpse of the Mustangs.

14:35: Laval goes offside. 2 and 10.

14:05: Kaiser makes a huge play, sacking Groulx for a 10-yard loss. 3 and 20 and Laval will punt.

13:45: Milo punts it a good ways, Butler brings it back nine yards and they'll tack a no-yards on for good measure. Western ball in great field position on the Laval 40. They need a TD here to get back in this.

13:15: Quick screen pass to Milliquet for two yards. 2 and 8.

12:45: Faulds goes deep for Trevail, and it looks like he pulls it in with a diving catch. Ruled incomplete, though, and Wheeler will punt.

12:20: The punt goes out of bounds at the Laval 14, and they'll take over. Western really should have done more with that field position.

12:00: It's rather bloody cold in the press box now; I can't imagine what it must be like in the open stands or down on the field. The snow is really coming down.

11:55: Levesque runs up the middle for four.

11:30: Groulx throws a short pass to Mathieu Bouvette, who takes it outside and beats the entire Mustang defence. He goes 92 yards for the TD. As Chris Berman might say, 'Il pourrait aller toute la distance!' That's a Vanier Cup record for the longest reception.

11:15: That just might be the final dagger in Western's heart. Looked like they might have something going for a while, but a 92-yard screen pass will burst anyone's bubble.

11:15: Milo hits the EP and it's Laval 34, Western 7.

11:10: Butler pulls off a nice kickoff return and Western will start on their 39.

10:50: Faulds throws to Riva, and that goes for 13 yards and a first down.

10:20: Faulds tries to find Riva deep again, but he's double-covered, and the pass is almost picked off.

10:00: Laval breaks through and a couple of linemen drag Faulds down, but he gets a short pass off as he falls. It's ruled incomplete, though. 3 and 10 Western. Will they go for it? Marshall was bold enough to do that against Queen's this year, and punting can't help them now; they need a hell of a lot of points, and they need them fast.

9:30: Faulds goes for it on third and airs it out to Trevail. It's a bit too high and he can't reel it in, but pass interference is called. 1 and 10 Western on the Laval 46.

9:02: Just announced that Groulx has already broken the Vanier Cup record for passing yards in regulation time, with still almost two quarters to go. He already has over 350 yards.

8:50: Riva runs for 5. 2 and 5.

8:40: Faulds hits Bellamy near the sidelines, and he reels it in. First down, Western, on the Laval 39.

8:25: Faulds tries Bellamy again, but it's incomplete.

8:15: Faulds hits Trevail in tight single coverage for a first down. 1 and 10 Mustangs on the 22.

8:05: Faulds is rushed and Beaudoin-Cloutier almost gets a huge sack, but a brilliant cut block by fullback Dan Duff takes him out. Faulds gets free and hits Bellamy in the end zone. Touchdown, Western. Wheeler hits the EP and it's Laval 34, Western 14. Nice play by Duff to redeem himself for that fumble; without his block, that would have been a painful sack.

8:00: Wheeler kicks off to the Laval 13, but Levesque busts a big return to the Laval 36. That's where they'll start.

7:30: Groulx completes another short pass for a first down. They get it at the 47.

7:15: Levesque runs for nine. 2 and 2. Laval tries a short run, but they're penalized on the play. 2 and 7 on the 50.

6:45: Good pressure from Western and Groulx is sacked by Vaughn Martin. The ball pops loose, but Laval centre Louis-David Gagne dives on it. With the ball on their 40, Laval will punt.

6:15: Milo booms a punt, and Butler brings it back. A no-yards is tacked on, and it's Western ball on the 55.

5:45: Faulds is flushed, but throws a screen pass to Riva, who busts it for a first down.

5:15: Faulds to Riva again on a wide screen, and it's another first down. Western ball on the 34.

5:00: Announced attendance: 13, 873. That's much less than I thought: this side must not have too many people. Then again, the other side is loosely-spread, so that comes into it.

4:30: Faulds throws end zone, incomplete.

4:15: Riva runs for four. 3 and 6.

4:00: Western goes for it and Faulds tries a short pass to Trevail, who can't reel it in. Turnover on downs. Laval ball on their own 30.

Record update: That 92-yard pass to Bouvette is the longest touchdown in Vanier Cup history, but only the second-longest pass, not the longest as I stated earlier. Groulx's other long TD pass, the 82-yarder to Feoli-Gudino, is now the fourth-longest TD pass in Vanier history. Ryan Tremblay's 62-yard return is the longest kickoff return in Vanier history, and Feoli-Gudino's punt return for a TD is the third-longest punt return in Vanier history.

3:35: Another short pass from Groulx turns into a first down. 1 and 10 Laval on their own 41.

3:15: Levesque runs it up the middle and finds daylight. Again, let's bring in Chris Berman. "Il pourrait aller toute la distance!" He does in fact aller toute la distance, and it's another touchdown for Laval. That's a 63-yard run. Milo hits the EP, and it's now Laval 41, Western 14. The slightly large lady has begun her aria. That's the third-longest run in Vanier history and the second-longest run for a TD in Vanier history.

3:00: Milo kicks off and Tremblay takes it back to the Western 45.

2:32: Incomplete pass, Faulds. 2 and 10.

2:20: Faulds pressured and he dumps it to Duff, who manages to get the first down. 1 and 10 Western on their 51.

2:10: Pass complete to Hegarty for a first down. Ball's on the Laval 38.

1:50: Faulds drops to pass, has no one open and runs himself for seven yards. 2 and 3.

1:35: Faulds hits Milliquet outside, and it looks like he has the catch, but he bobbles it and it falls incomplete. 3 and 3. Western's going for it.

1:15: Riva runs up the middle and looks like he has a first, but they'll measure.

1:05: They'll give him the first. Ball on the Laval 27.

0:50: Faulds is hit, but gets an end-zone bomb off for Trevail. A Laval defender does well to get a hand on it, but Trevail still gets his hands on it with a diving attempt. He can't pull it in, though. 2 and 10.

0:35: Faulds hits Bellamy with a short pass, and he gets the first with a nice move. Ball on the 16.

0:15: Faulds finds Bellamy again, but he can't hang on. Looks like he prepared for the hit before he caught the ball.

0:05: Laval goes offside. 2 and 5 Western on the 11. They run and get another couple of yards. That ends the quarter.

Fourth quarter:

15:00: We could see the record for most points by one team broken. It's currently 54, set by Calgary in 1995 against Western (the Dinos won 54-24).

14:55: Faulds throws a short pass to Riva and he takes it in for the TD. Wheeler hits the EP. That makes it Laval 41, Western 21.

14:45: Western kicks off and Levesque takes it, but he fumbles and the Mustangs recover. Western ball on the Laval 27. This could get interesting.

14:30: Faulds hands to Riva, but he's stopped at the line. Loss of two.

13:55: Faulds drops to pass, then runs up the middle for nine. Third and three.

13:30: They hand it to Riva and he doesn't get too far. Depending on the spot, he might have the first down though. They'll bring in the chains to measure.

13:15: He's short, and that probably kills whatever chance Western had. We'll see, though: I declared them pretty much dead quite a while ago, but they still seem to be moving.

13:00: Laval ball on their own 19. Levesque runs for a few yards. Second and six.

12:30: Laval hands it off to Maxime Beland, who gets close to a first down but is stopped. 3 and 1, and Laval decides to punt.

12:00: Milo punts it out of bounds at the Western 48. The field is now covered with snow, more white than green. Most of the crowd's still here, but they must be awfully cold.

11:30: Big play for Laval. Marc-Antoine L.Fontin sacks Faulds from the blind side for a loss of five.

11:00: Faulds throws incomplete. 3 and 15 and Western will punt.

10:40: Wheeler punts, and it's returned up to Laval's 40. That's where they'll start.

9:50: Levesque runs for 1. 2 and 9.

9:30: Groulx throws a short pass over the middle, and it's incomplete. Laval's offence is having trouble now. 3 and 9 and they'll punt.

9:10: Good punt by Milo and Butler doesn't get far on the return. 1 and 10 Western on their 33.

9:00: It's looking like Lambeau Field out here with all the snow. This is crazy. I can't remember the last time I saw a game with this much snow. You can barely make out the yardage lines on the field.

8:45: Faulds hits Trevail with a pass, but a tremendous hit knocks the ball loose and a Laval player recovers. Laval ball on the 38. If they can get a TD here, that should finish the Mustangs off, as there's not much time left.

8:15: Laval called for holding. 1 and 20 on the Western 48.

8:00: Groulx throws for Matthew Leblanc, and it looked like he had a diving catch for a second, but it's ruled incomplete. 2 and 20.

7:30: Huge play from Western: defensive end Andrew Hrytzak busts through and sacks Groulx. 3 and 28, and they'll punt.

7:10: Great punt from Milo pins Butler near the sideline around the Western 15. He gets it up to the 23, and Western will start from there.

7:00: Faulds throws deep for Duff and he got his hands on it, but couldn't hang on. Almost picked off, but it falls incomplete.

6:40: Faulds throws a pass to Trevail, but there's a flag on the play. Illegal contact called on Laval; 10-yard penalty. 1 and 10 Western on their 33.

6:30: Faulds makes a great throw over double coverage to a deep, open Trevail, but he can't reel in the slippery ball. That might have been a TD if he got it.

6:20: Faulds hits Milliquet for 19.

6:10: Faulds throws incomplete. 2 and 10 near midfield.

5:45: Faulds is sacked. 3 and 17 Western at their own 45.

5:30: Faulds throws deep, incomplete. Laval takes over, and that's probably it; not much time left now. Interestingly, though, Laval hasn't scored since late in the third quarter.

5:15: Laval penalized: 1 and 20 on the 55.

5:00: They hand off to Beland, and Western's caught by surprise. He runs for 20 yards and close to a first down. They'll measure. Laval gets it.

4:00: Laval moves the ball down to the 30, but the drive stalls there and Milo hits a 37-yard FG. Laval 44, Western 21.

3:30: Western takes the ball on their 35. Surprisingly, most of the crowd still seems to be here, and the Laval fans are making a great amount of noise.

3:15: The game MVP has been announced as Laval's Julian Feoli-Gudino. A deserving candidate, to be sure.

3:00: Faulds completes a short pass to Riva for 3 yards. 2 and 7.

2:48: The Mounties are bringing the cup out.

2:40: Faulds completes a pass to Trevail for a first down. According to the Western radio guys, that's a personal best in completions for him (31).

2:30: Faulds throws incomplete, but pass interference is called. 1 and 10 Western on their own 47.

2:26: Faulds throws incomplete to John Leckie, who hasn't played much today.

2:20: Faulds completes a long pass to Bellamy. First down at the Laval 32.

2:10: Another short completion for a first down at the Laval 21.

2:05: Faulds throws end zone for Trevail, who can't quite pull it in.

1:55: Faulds is hit while throwing a screen pass to Duff, who has to leap and catch it. He falls down for a loss of four.

1:44: Faulds goes end zone for Milliquet, who can't reel it in in tight coverage. Laval gets the ball on their 25.

1:20: Laval runs twice for a total gain of 2. They'll punt.

1:10: Deep punt by Milo, and Butler doesn't get far. Western ball on their 31.

0:48: Faulds completes one to Riva for a first down. This is almost done.

0:40: Faulds deep for Bellamy, but he can't reel it in. 2 and 10 on the Western 42. Faulds has thrown for over 400 yards in a losing cause today.

0:30: Faulds dumps it off to Duff, but he loses yards. 3 and 13 Western. They;kk just let the clock run out, and Laval will claim their fifth Vanier Cup. Final score, Laval 44, Western 21. Laval fans storm the field, and it's all over. Thanks for tuning in!
The stage is set for what could be a legendary clash here at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium. In one corner, the legendary old powerhouse Western Mustangs, decked out in the classic purple, silver and white. They have six Vanier Cups to their name, but haven't won since 1994 and haven't been in the final since 1995, although they've had a lot of success at lower levels during those years. In the other corner, we have the new dynasty on the block, the Laval Rouge et Or, wearing red uniforms with gold trim and golden helmets. They have four Vanier titles to their name, all since 1999. The complete stats breakdown is after the jump. As with the CFL previews, I'm sticking to regular-season numbers here unless otherwise specified; I find the larger sample size more revealing. Live blogging will start with the kickoff.

The records:

Western: 7-1 regular season (second in OUA), 3-0 in playoffs

Laval: 8-0 (first in Quebec), 3-0 in playoffs

Passing leaders:

Western: Michael Faulds, 176 completions on 277 attempts (63.54 per cent) for 2596 yards (first in CIS) in eight games (9.37 yards per attempt, 14.75 yards per completion), 19 touchdowns versus 8 interceptions

Laval: Benoit Groulx, 185 completions on 246 attempts (75.20 per cent, CIS record) for 2385 yards in eight games (9.70 yards per attempt, 12.75 yards per completion), 12 touchdowns versus 2 interceptions

Advantage: Laval. Faulds is very good, and led CIS in passing yards, but Groulx won the Hec Creighton for a reason. Most impressive to me is his completion percentage and his lack of interceptions. He tends to throw shorter passes than Faulds, and he's been extremely successful with that so far.

Receiving leaders:

Western: Slotback Jesse Bellamy, 39 receptions for 686 yards (seventh in CIS, 17.59 yards per catch average) in 8 games (85.75 yards per game average), six touchdowns

Laval: Wide receiver Julian Feoli-Gudino, 65 receptions for 785 yards (fourth in CIS, 12.08 yards per catch average) in 8 games (98.13 yards per game average), four

(Note: Western's second-leading receiver is wide receiver Nick Trevail, who finished 15th in CIS with 558 yards on 43 catches. Laval's second-leading receiver is wide receiver Matthew Leblanc, who finished 40th in CIS with 369 yards on 32 catches. Western's Nick Pasic (28th, 436 yards on 24 catches) and Zack Bull (30th, 423 yards on 26 catches) also finished ahead of Leblanc.

Advantage: Western. Feoli-Gudino is very impressive, but the Mustangs have a lot of depth in their receiving corps. The Rouge et Or haven't shown that depth so far.

Rushing leaders:

Western: Running back Nathan Riva, 487 yards (21st in CIS) on 61 carries (7.98 yards per carry) in six games (81.17 yards per game), seven touchdowns

Laval: Running back Guillame Allard-Cameus, 389 yards (30th in CIS) on 77 carries (5.05 yards per carry) in 8 games (48.6 yards per game), five touchdowns

(Note: Western running back John Leckie is 31st in CIS with 379 yards on 65 carries (5.83 yards per carry), one slot back of Allard-Cameus).

Advantage: Western. Laval's ground game hasn't been overly impressive this year. It's a bit of running back by committee at Western, but both Riva and Leckie have better per-attempt numbers than Allard-Cameus.

Sack leaders:

Western: Tackle Chris Greaves leads the team with 4.5 sacks (20th in CIS).

Laval: Tackle Etienne Legare, who earned the J.P. Metras trophy earlier this week as the CIS outstanding lineman, leads the team with 6.5 sacks (tied for 20th in CIS).

(Note: Laval defensive end Marc-Antoine Beaudoin-Cloutier also is ahead of Greaves, recording six sacks this year (tied for 10th in CIS)).

Advantage: Laval. Huge advantage to the Rouge et Or here. If their impressive defensive front can stop Western's run game and force Faulds to hurry his passes, that will go a long way towards winning the game. Western's line is less formidable, and Laval's short-pass system also makes it tougher to hit Groulx before he gets rid of the ball.

Interception leaders:

Western: Defensive back Cory Watson leads the team with four picks in seven games, tied for fifth in CIS.

Laval: The Rouge et Or have three players tied with two interceptions each; middle linebacker Kelly-Joseph Hilare, cornerback Olivier Turcotte-Letourneau and free safety Jonathan Laliberte, who recorded his two picks in only four games.

Advantage: Western. Only a slight advantage, though, as they don't have anyone other than Watson in the top 40.

Overall notes:
This should be quite the match. We've got the old dynasty in Western and the new one in Laval, and plenty of fans from both sides. Unfortunately, the sun's gone behind a cloud and it's getting quite cold here, but that hasn't discouraged the fans so far; they're loud and into it, and we haven't even kicked off yet. Laval is a 19.5 favourite, but I don't think it's going to be that much of a blowout.

Prediction: Western victory
This is going out on a limb a bit, as just about everyone likes Laval in this one. Western does surprising things as an underdog, though; see their run to the Yates Cup from the #6 seed last year. I like Western's depth at reciever and running back. If they can win a few of the trench battles, this could go their way. I think they'll keep it close in any rate, but I can see them narrowly taking this one.
I'll do a by-the-numbers look at the teams in a bit, but I figured I'd start with some general thoughts on the match. First off, the weather's looking pretty good here; it's sunny and about -5, according to The Weather Network. Second, even though Western's a 19.5 point underdog [James Mirtle, The Globe and Mail], I think this one could be closer than that. I went to Western's practice at Ivor Wynne Stadium afternoon, and I was impressed by how loose the Mustangs looked. This makes some sense; after all, everyone's expecting them to lose, so there can't be too much pressure. For Laval, on the other hand, they're expected not just to win but to dominate. They pulled that off against Calgary in the semifinals, but this is a bigger stage and even more of a challenge. I still like their chances, but you underestimate a Greg Marshall team at your peril; just ask Queen's about how last year's playoffs went against a 4-4 Western team.

Some interesting tidbits about this year's clash from the CIS media guide;

- This is Marshall's first Vanier Cup as a head coach, which is somewhat surprising considering the success he had first with McMaster and now with Western. His teams lost five bowl games and never advanced to the final clash. However, he's been to the Vanier once as a player and five times as a Mustangs' assistant coach and picked up rings in two of his appearances as an assistant coach.

- This is the first Vanier Cup in history to feature an Ontario university and a Quebec university.

- Laval and Western are the only two CIS teams to have claimed Vanier Cup titles at three different stadiums. Laval has triumphed at the former SkyDome in Toronto, Ivor Wynne here in Hamilton and Saskatoon's Griffiths Stadium, while Western has won at Varsity Stadium, the CNE Stadium and the SkyDome, all in Toronto.

- 11 teams in CIS history, including last year's Manitoba Bisons, have gone undefeated throughout the season and the playoffs. Laval will try to be the twelfth.

- Laval is 4-0 in Vanier Cup games with wins in 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2006. The only other team with a perfect Vanier record is the Guelph Gryphons, who beat Mount Allison in 1984 in their only trip to the Vanier.

- This will be the third time the Vanier has been played in Hamilton.

- Laval and Western have played pre-season games for the last two years. The Rouge et Or won 20-2 in 2007 and 37-9 this year.

- Both Laval and Western have played in November 22 Vanier Cups before. Laval is 1-0 (14-7 win over St. Mary's in 2003) and Western is 1-1 (19-15 victory against the University of Toronto in 1974, 25-23 loss to UBC in 1986).

- Marshall (70-24-2) and Laval head coach Glen Constantin (70-19) both have 70 CIS wins as head coaches (combined regular-season and playoffs) heading into today's game.

- Western has won more Vanier Cups (6) than any other school and has also appeared in the Vanier 12 times, more than any other university. Laval is tied with Calgary for second place with 4 victories.

- Constantin has three Vanier titles as a head coach. If he wins today, he'll be tied with former Calgary head coach Peter Connellan for the most Vanier titles won by a head coach. He also has a Vanier ring from Laval's 1999 triumph, when he was the defensive coordinator.

- Western was in the highest-scoring Vanier Cup match ever (50-40 overtime win against Saskatchewan in 1994), while Laval was in the lowest-scoring Vanier match ever (7-1 win over Saskatchewan in 2004). I think we're more likely to see a game towards the higher end of the spectrum today.

- It's the first time Laval will play a team that doesn't go by "Huskies" in the final. They beat St. Mary's in 1999 and 2003 and Saskatchewan in 2004 and 2006.
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