The eyes of CIS Football were fixated upon Moncton last weekend - it is now Toronto’s turn.
Presently the Varsity Blues are garnering much attention as they sit on the cusp of a potentially league changing announcement, one that will cause a significant shake up in the football ranks, in both the OUA as well as across the nation. However in the meantime the team went about ensuring there was something on the field that was equally worthy of drawing attention their way.
On Saturday the University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the number two nationally ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees by a score of 40-35, and that score was flattered by two very late fourth quarter scores to lessen the gap. The Blues held an 18 point lead with less than two minutes to go in this one. There was no lucky bounce or fluke play, on this day the Varsity Blues were simply the better team on the field.
Far better known for their considerable losses, U of T, a once-powerful force in university football, was relegated to the bottom tier in recent years and on right now an annual basis. However for the first time in 13 years, they changed that with a win over a Top 10 team. And for the first time since the Yates Cup final in 1974, that win came at the expense of the Ottawa Gee-Gees. That’s right, the Blues broke their 36-year losing streak against Ottawa when they were ranked second in the nation, which means if I am correct – and I know I am - the Maple Leafs are seriously starting to run out of excuses (in all fairness to the Leafs the Blues and Gee-Gees were not in the same conference until 2001, but then again the Blues have only won 5 of their last 73 contests so if they can step it up against the best in their league you can too Buds!).
Over the past two seasons under the tutelage of Greg DeLaval, U of T has turned a corner, snapped their record setting losing streak and posted wins where once only sat losses. The positive vibes were so clear that it even led some of the more audacious to believe the playoffs lay ahead for Toronto this season. To date, however, the results were not that kind; a victory over their crosstown rivals looked likely to be the only mark in the win column for a second year running. And then Saturday happened to change everything. Now even failing to make the playoffs will be easier to tolerate after this young and building Toronto squad jumped a few years ahead of themselves and played giant killers for a weekend. This Toronto team shocked the football world by beating one of the best in the nation.
Since Saturday people are talking about the way Toronto team played and in a very complimentary manner. Since Saturday, the Varsity Blues victory became the talk of the league for a good reason once again.
Elsewhere around the FRC-CIS Top 10 rankings:
The Laval Rouge et Or (#1) continued their domination of Quebec as they defeated Concordia by a healthy score of 46-10. The top ranked team in the nation is showing no signs of slowing down, holding the Stingers to less than 200 yards of total offence on the day. Young Tristan Grenon started for the second week in a row and look quite comfortable, throwing 24-36 on the day for 272 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Laval-Montreal showdown, coming next week, is a contest many have been anticipating all season long. However this week the Bishop’s Gaiters (#8) made sure to diminish the excitement of that Top 10 showdown by claiming a 39-21 upset win over the Montreal Carabins (#3) in a Top 10 battle of their own. No longer undefeated the Carabins will have to pick themselves up for the contest against Laval this coming weekend. The Gaiters took a commanding 20-4 lead in to halftime and it was too much for the Carabins to overcome. Bishop’s running back Matt Burke stole the spotlight usually reserved for Rotrand Sene this week with a pair of touchdowns on the ground to help secure the victory.
In front of their homecoming crowd the Western Mustangs (#5 ) won the rematch of last season’s thrilling Yates Cup finals, one of the better CIS football games in some time, but this year it was not quite as dramatic. The Mustangs claimed a commanding 46-10 victory of their own in front of the purple clad masses, gaining 554 yards of total offence while holding the Gaels to only 274 total yards themselves.
The McMaster Marauders (#7) trounced the lowly York Lions 64-6. The Marauders also put in an impressive offensive display on the afternoon posting 585 total yards on offence while limiting the Lions to 153.
Continuing to make a name for themselves out west the Regina Rams (#6) took down the former Top 10 Alberta Golden Bears by a score of 40-8. The highlight for the Golden Bears was a 98 yard kickoff return by Randon Ralph late in the fourth quarter for the teams only major. The Rams were led by the arm of Marc Mueller, who went 20-31 on 274 yards passing while both throwing and running for two touchdown passes himself on the day. Mueller’s TD runs were not simply short plunges over the goal line either but runs of 24 and 35 yards for the majors.
The Calgary Dinos (#4) also continued to march onwards, still without their Hec Creighton Quarterback and yet still winning games in spite of his absence. This past weekend the Dinos earned a 33-16 win over UBC. A relatively close contest throughout the Dinos pulled away with 17 unanswered points to end out the game. Matt Walter scored three of Calgary’s four touchdowns, one through the air and two on the ground.
The Saskatchewan Huskies (#9), a team who entered 2010 highly regarded and have had their share of struggles so far this season, returned to the Top 10 rankings this past week. The Huskies took another step in the right direction with an impressive win over the Manitoba Bisons, 64-3 on Friday night. Saskatchewan wins the battle of best Offensive display this weekend with 614 total yards thanks to a sublime performance by Quarterback Laurence Nixon who went 22-30 for 314 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
And the last Top 10 team to play were the Guelph Gryphons (#10), fresh off their own homecoming they travelled to Waterloo to participate another homecoming tilt, this time with Wilfrid Laurier. However they were not able to spoil the festivities as they fell hard to the tune of 36-2 at the hands of the Golden Hawks, another highly touted team entering the season who has thus far failed to live up to those expectations. In a rather defensive battle all around (neither offence broke the 300 yard marker for total yards on the day) the Hawks put up scores early on to please the homecoming crowd and send the Gryphons home with a loss.