Ovular balls galore!

Saturday, November 14, 2009. 1 p.m.

Queen's University (Golden) Gaels vs. University of Western Ontario Mustangs.

It almost makes sense that these two schools will have two teams competing simultaneously for the greatest reward possible at the provincial (Ontarian...) university level, in the Yates Cup (football) and the Turner Trophy (men's rugby). Mark your calendars, folks, because it's going to get all kinds of messy.

On the football side*, you've got two of the best teams in the country (Queen's ranked 4th, Western ranked 5th).

When they played each other during the regular season, Queen's only won by 1 point on a last-second touchdown.

Queen's quarterback Danny Brannagan and Western quarterback Michael Faulds were neck-in-neck all year for the CIS career passing yards record (Faulds eventually won, Western played the University of Toronto Varsity Blues last, Queen's played Laurier... you do the math).

On the rugby side**, you have two of the closest-matched teams in the province taking their fight to the final. In Queen's undefeated season last year, Western was the only team the Gaels failed to beat, tying 12-12. This year, the Tricolour managed a perfect season, Western being the only team Queen's didn't shellack all year (winning 13-12). For the Mustangs, that loss was the only thing between them and a perfect season, finishing 7-1. Finishing in first and second place, respectively, Queen's and Western both enjoyed a luxurious bye-week that came as a result of a league-rejigging for this season.

As far as the playoffs go, Queen's managed to beat 2008 champions McMaster Marauders in their semifinal. Western beat 2007 champions Brock Badgers. Both teams are medal-hungry, of course - Western hasn't won since 2004, Queen's since 2001. Both teams' first championships came almost at the same time as well, Western's first Turner Trophy coming in 1966, while the Golden Gaels brought home their first in 1964.

At any rate, this weekend's going to be an absolute ****-show for those of us in southern Ontario, and especially those of us who work at student newspapers in Kingston or London. Oh man.

* Which I'd imagine most readers will have read, and will read, much better analysis on.
** Which I'm assuming most don't know about

Photo credits: Football photo taken by Christine Blais, rugby photo taken by Larry Pancer
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  1. On the football side I think that Queen's is the more suited team to matchup against the QUFL Dunsomore Cup winner. They have played more error free football than Western to date. Queen's has yet to lay an egg so to speak, except for their last game of the regular season against Laurier who had more to gain with the win.

    Thirty points scored(assuming opposition scores less)wins this game. As Western is prone to give up last minute TD's at the end of the half in several recent big games, they likely will have addressed this with defensive configurations sorted out by Gleason and Donnovan. Field goal position and presence of Jimmy Allin in end zone will likely have Marshall gamble on third downn inside Queen's territory frequently, although third down short yardage conversion by Western terrible for such an "A list" football team.

    Queen's will have to shut the door on Western like they did in last years Homecoming Game with the 4-0 teams meeting at that time. Gaels permitted Western back into the game at Richardson this year and Queen's almost got what they deserved for doing so. Gaels let a pesky Guelph team back into the game in the first game of the year, and if Jimmy Allin doesn't take it to the house three times, this Yates Cup is being played at TD Waterhouse.

    Western to win in a close one. Despite my Western ties I have followed Queen's closely for the last 3 years(2 kids there now) , and this should be the culmination of a long run that began in 2006. At that time at Richardson on a soggy field Queen's upset Western the day after a freak October snow storm to sqeak into the playoffs. Queen's then goes on to upset Mac at Ivor Wynne after trailing at the half with Mac laying an egg at every opportunity in the second half.

    Hopefully a good game at Richardson Stadium in Kingston this weekend. If Queen's wins I like their chances against likely Laval. If Western wins, this will be their last good showing for the year.

  2. I'm going to call out the Jimmy Allin comment, because everyone says it and everybody seems to forget that if Jimmy doesn't take 3 back, Queen's offence gets 3 more possesions (4 if you count the one fumble he had). Guelph could not stop the Queen's O all game, and if they take time off the clock, that's less time for Justin Dunk to build momentum. Jimmy Allin is responsible for Queen's scoring 52 but also played a huge role in why Guelph scored 49. The Gaels defence never left the field.

  3. From a western perspective, this may go back to that game in 2006. From a Queen's perspective, however, something you completely failed to overlook, not only does this present an opportunity to stop Western's Yates cup streak, it also goes back to the start of their first Yates run, where a 4-4 Western came in to Kingston and upset Queen's in the first round. I'd say there's no way one team has more motivation than the other in this one.
    As I thought going into last week's game against McMaster, the key to the game is going to be Queen's run defense against Riva, and potentially Thomas too. Having watched Faulds quite a bit, against good teams, he needs the running game rolling to really click. If Queen's can shut down Riva like they did in the first game (relatively) and force Western in to a lot of second-and-long situations, they'll come flying out of this one.

  4. Queen's will shut Riva down as Western has nothing much to answer inside. This as a result of the experience at Vanier where Laval shut them down running early. they continue to struggle with short yardage with third and one gambles going awry with loss of possession ensuing.

    Marshall will likely go to the pass early and often against Queen's. Western lacks an inside running game with a 210 pounder, grinding type nowhere to be found this year.

    The reminder of that playoff game noted previously, two years ago was palpable at the Queen's Homecoming game last year when Western started to come back. The Queen's fake FG complete with Jimmy Allin pass for good yardage helped kill the Western comeback. BTW, it was a similar fake FG in 2006 against Mac at Ivor Wynne in Hamilton in the quarter finals that helped Queen's narrow the score in that first half of an eventual winning game.

    It was this 2006 win against McMaster that began the run that Queen's has had until now. As I sat behind the Queen's bench for most of the game, it was clear they intended to upset the favoured Marauders; it was by second half very believable.

    If Western is so fortunate enough to go up by the second or third quarter, it will be a test to the Queen's fortitude to come back as this is not a position they are familiar with at Richardson.

    Good luck to both teams as it will be an epic battle that many CIS types will be watching. Regrettably we have not seen more of the CanWest, AUS, or QUFL like other years on The Score(although a game or two on TSN2).