I fully expected there to be at least one undefeated team after two weeks of the Canada West season, I just wouldn't have bet that team would hail from Edmonton.
After winning their opener in decisive fashion over the Calgary Dinos, the Saskatchewan Huskies came home to Saskatoon this weekend looking to remain undefeated and hand the visiting UBC Thunderbirds their second loss of the season. That's not what happened though, as new head coach Shawn Olson got his first win at the helm of the T-Bird program with a surprising 31-12 win over the #2-ranked Huskies.
Handing the ball over six times to UBC, the Huskies were down by 13 at the half and simply couldn't turn things around in the second thirty minutes. Those six turnovers were coupled with six sacks against for Saskatchewan, allowing the T-Birds to pick up their first win over the Sled Dogs since 2000 - not a bad way for Olson to get his first win at UBC.
Huskie quarterback Laurence Nixon managed only 108 yards passing before backup Trent Peterson took over. The long night that it was for the QBs can best be summed up by Peterson's first series at the helm of the offence: a two-and-out featuring a pair of sacks.
While the Huskies weren't able to carry the momentum they'd gained from their opening week win against Calgary, the Dinos managed to regroup from that 34-13 loss at the hands of Saskatchewan with a tight 24-21 win at home over the Regina Rams.
The #9-ranked Rams gave the shorthanded #5-ranked Dinos all they could handle, but rookie quarterback Eric Dzwilewski, who started in place of the injured Erik Glavic, was able to avoid any costly interceptions in his CIS debut, and at the same time provide the Dinos with two passing TDs to help get the win.
Regina came into the game after their thrashing of the Manitoba Bisons in week one, and despite carrying a slight lead into the half couldn't hand Calgary their second home loss in as many weeks to open the season.
It was a gutsy win for the Dinos who have been hit by some major injury woes early. Reigning Hec Crighton winner Erik Glavic, along with receivers Anthony Parker and Anthony Woodson, linebacker Andrea Bonaventura, and safety Anthony DesLauriers were all out of the lineup. Missing five all-Canadians, and still coming away with a win against a pretty solid opponent in Regina was a character-revealing way for Calgary to get its first win of the 2010 campaign.
In the third and final Canada West game of the weekend, the Alberta Golden Bears went into the Manitoba capital with the opportunity to emerge from week two in sole possession of first place in the conference. Alberta did just that with a convincing 31-6 win over the Bisons to remain the only undefeated team in Canada West.
Alberta got TDs from Matt Jarvis, Jess Valleau and Ryan Meraw in the win, and after watching Julian Marchand put up huge numbers against UBC in the season opener with over 350 yards passing, it was the ground game Saturday that was the difference for the Bears.
Matt Jarvis rushed for 145 yards in the victory, averaging 11.2 yards per carry. It was an impressive performance from the fifth-year back and good news for Alberta, showing they could win with a rush-first attack.
For Manitoba, offence again was a problem as a pair of Nick Naylor field goals in the first half were all the scoring the Herd could muster, running their season point total to an abysmal 17 through two games. The Bisons have now lost by a combined 59 points in two games - nowhere near the Edmonton Eskimos' embarrassing numbers against Calgary this year, but still far from good enough.
With the win the Bears not only picked up their first win in Winnipeg since 2004, but also ran their record to 2-0 for the first time since 2005 when the Green and Gold went 7-1 during the regular season.
So it was another wild weekend with another upset, albeit a much larger upset than the one we saw in week one when the then #3 Saskatchewan Huskies beat the then-#1 Calgary Dinos at McMahon.
With Calgary and Saskatchewan both sitting at 1-1, the Huskies surrendered the early upper hand they had in the standings, while Calgary proved that they're deep enough to find ways to win despite being without some of their biggest stars.
While the race for first will surely involve the Dinos and Huskies for the entirety of the season, the Bears are now the wild card in the race for the top spot and while a win over Calgary or Saskatchewan will prove they're for real, they've shown more than enough early on to say they're a playoff-calibre team.
Alberta will get that chance to prove they deserve the top spot in Canada West when the host the Dinos and Huskies over the course of the next two weeks. All of a sudden the Bears are in the drivers' seat out west, and while it's early I think it's fair to say this team has the potential to be the surprise of the CIS season after coming into 2010 with a lot more questions than answers. But ask me again in two weeks if they're really as good as they've appeared through the first two.