Neate Sager's ballot (numbers in parentheses respectively represent a team's rank in the Oct. 26 CIS-FRC poll and where I slotted it last week):
- Laval (9-0 QUFL) (1, 1) — Deaths, taxes and ... actually, how healthy will they be for the Dunsmore Cup and Uteck Bowl?
Discuss: should old media only use "defending Vanier Cup champions" when Laval is not defending champion?
- Saskatchewan (6-2 CW) (3, 2) — Look at that, the Huskies have home field through to the Mitchell Bowl and Laurence Nixon is in good form. Three wins will get them a long-awaited rematch vs. the R & O.
- Western (7-1 OUA) (2, 3) — Idle. Will need to get heat on McMaster QB Kyle Quinlan, who had it way too easy with 403 yards total offence in a no-sack, no-interception day in the Marauders' first-round win over Queen's.
- Calgary (6-2 CW) (5, 4) — Will have to be road warriors again in order to become Canada West's first three-peat winner since the 2004-06 Huskies .
- Ottawa (7-1 OUA) (4, 5) — Will not have to travel until/unless it reaches the Uteck Bowl.
Getting cornerback-return man Chayce Elliott at full speed will help vs. Laurier. Their linebacking group will need to be sharp against Laurier's array of counters and 'long handoff' screens to Dustin Heap and Shamawd Chambers.
- Montréal (6-3 QUFL) (8, 7) — Stay classy, Carabins.
- McMaster (6-2 reg. season, 1-0 playoffs OUA) (7, 8) — Chewable post-game quote from Marauders coach Stefan Ptaszek following the 40-19 win over Queen's: "Championship teams overcome fumbling the ball at the one-yard line, they overcome making mistakes."
The question is whether that can be cleaned up or it is ingrained. The Marauders will meed to capitalize nearly every time they get inside the 30-yard line vs. Western. Those Mustangs can reduce the number of possessions each team will have. Avoiding leaving points on the field is especially paramount.
The glass-half-full is the Marauders scored 40 on Saturday despite needing 26-plus minutes to score their first points at a wind-whipped Ron Joyce Stadium.
They did stick with it after two fumbles (on the first, Queen's Sam Sabourin made a goal-line strip on receiver Kevin D'Hollander, who later caught two scoring passes) and a field goal off the upright in the scoring zone.
Mac's defence might need to give Western something it has not seen.
Second-place teams are 4-2 in the semifinal since the OUA adopted its six-team tournament in 2004.
- Sherbrooke (5-4 QUFL) (10, 9) — The French-language schools have a 1-2-3 finish in the Q; would that it was 1-2-3-4, meaning another university would come along to try to pare down Laval.
- Laurier (4-4* reg. season, 1-0 playoffs OUA) (11, 10) — The big question is whether the Hawks have developed a system which is only good enough to overcome an opponent of demonstrably lesser talent.
Credit Laurier for exposing Guelph as a pretender and a poorly organized one to boot.
- Regina (5-3 CW) (6, 6) — Having them No. 2 was really a hold-your-nose pick. Two consecutive losses heading into Round 3 vs. the Dinos. The good news is it not a best-of-3 series.
(Update: regular commenter Vic Ferrari pointed out there is video of the Rams' attempt to mix it up with Saskatchewan during the intros on Friday. A visiting team can still get psyched up for a game and stay on its own sideline. It is tough to stand there during all the pregame hype, but other teams manage to maintain a veneer of civilization.)
Hockey has a penalty for players who skate across the centre-ice line in warmups. Moving the ball forward or back 15 yards on the opening kickoff would be appropriate.
Andrew Bucholtz's ballot (parentheses represent my rankings from last week)
1. Laval (1)
2. Saskatchewan (2)
3. Western (3)
4. Calgary (4)
5. Ottawa (5)
6. Sherbrooke (7)
7. Saint Mary’s (10)
8. McMaster (8)
9. Montreal (9)
10. Regina (6)
Rationale: My top five from last week all won (Laval, Saskatchewan, Calgary) or had byes (Western, Ottawa), so I kept them as is. The bottom five sees more change. Regina lost big (52-29) to Saskatchewan, so they take a hit; they're still a good team and one that might even find a way to make it out of Canada West, but they've now lost two straight games by a touchdown or more, and I try to take recent form into account. Sherbrooke's won three straight and looked good this week with a 43-8 thumping of McGill; I think they've got a pretty good shot against Montreal in the Quebec semis. There's also a good chance that Saint Mary's is better than everyone seems to think; the Huskies have won five straight, and their three season-opening losses came at Acadia, against Laval and at the "neutral site" of Moncton against Mount Allison, which really was more of a road game. Their early-season conference road losses might not suggest that they've fallen dramatically, but rather that the rest of the AUS teams have improved. It's tough to evaluate how they stack up against the rest of the country, as their only interconference game was against the Rouge et Or, but they certainly look like the class of the AUS conference, and they might just put up a fight in the Mitchell Bowl (if they can avoid upsets in the AUS playoffs). McMaster and Montreal hold steady with wins.
Jared Book's ballot (parentheses represent last week's rankings):
1. Laval (1)
2. Saskatchewan (2)
3. Calgary (3)
4. Montreal (5)
5. Western (6)
6. Regina (4)
7. Sherbrooke (8)
8. Ottawa (7)
9. McMaster (NR)
10. Bishop's (9)
Dropping out: Concordia (10)
Rationale: Pretty self-explanatory. Laval, Saskatchewan and Calgary prove to be the class of the top two conferences in the league. Montreal jumps over Regina, as does Western. I still have Regina over Sherbrooke for now. Sherbrooke and Ottawa flip flop again as they keep impressing me. McMaster moves over Bishop's following their playoff win and Bishop's is 10th until they lose to Laval again in the playoffs. Laurier is 11th for me, but I think the 4th place team from Quebec is better than the 4th place team from Ontario. As for Saint Mary's, they have to beat a team from another conference before showing me they are better than Laurier or Bishop's despite the latter's nose dive in the second half. I am not penalizing Bishop's, by the way, for not having Jesse Andrews because I jinxed them when I said he was the only quarterback not to miss time this season. Sorry, Gaiters.