Somewhat paradoxically, it may be easier to sell casual or new CIS fans on Friday's Vanier Cup (9 p.m. Eastern, TSN) than those who have been following the Canadian university game for a long while. For new fans, there's plenty of ways to set this one up: Ontario versus Quebec, McMaster's passing attack against Laval's dominant defence, the Rouge et Or's strong ground game against the Marauders' line, et cetera, but for long-time fans, this may look like another potential Laval blowout along the lines of last year's 29-2 snoozer over Calgary. The Marauders themselves are confident, but not everyone's thrilled about their chances.
The Rouge et Or have been incredibly good for the last decade and a bit, winning all six Vanier Cups they've been to (and the first one only came in 1999) and generally dominating their conference, the playoffs and the polls. Meanwhile, the Marauders are the new blood on the scene, thanks to knocking off previous power Western in the Yates Cup and then beating Acadia in the Uteck Bowl. They've only even made the Vanier Cup once before, and that was way back in 1967. History certainly isn't on their side.
You never know what will happen in Canadian football, though, and the Marauders do have several things going for them. For one thing, Kyle Quinlan remains one of Canadian university football's top quarterbacks despite his legal problems and suspension earlier this year, and when he's on his game, he can lead a very dangerous passing attack. If he can connect on a few long bombs at the right moments, the Marauders could make things very difficult for Laval. The Rouge et Or aren't perfect, either; they have an amazing ground game with Sebastien Levesque and an impressive defence, but quarterback Bruno Prud'homme has been more decent than spectacular so far this year. If the Marauders can get off to a quick start, Laval may not have an easy time coming back. It's certainly a David and Goliath matchup, but the little guy did come out on top in the original, so don't write this one off yet.
Tune in to The CIS Blog and 55-Yard Line for a joint live blog of the Vanier Cup Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern!