It’s come down to the nitty gritty of CIS’ gridiron season — the OUA sits at the crossroads of its semifinal series between the top three (plus one unpredictable Ottawa Gee-Gees) teams, the AUS has their championship final for the Loney Bowl and CanWest has no idea what’s going to happen after Manitoba defeated Saskatchewan Friday — of course before print — in a very high-scoring game.
For that, we look at what should, will and just simply cannot happen this week in Canadian university football.
What should happen?:
Laval loses to Concordia
I may be a bit bias when I say this, but I really just want to see someone knock Laval off their high horse. Yes — they are a perennial powerhouse of the CIS and it’ll take more than one regular season loss to Montréal for the club to come down from No. 1 in the country. Do I think Concordia’s the team to knock Laval off that pedestal? No. But it’d be nice to see.
Western will regain their “dominance”
Some people may read this and say, “Why would you want Western to win again? Why can’t Guelph win?” Simply, I do not think Guelph is that good, and to have them go to the Yates Cup on a win against a battered Western squad is just luck. If Western can defeat Guelph with almost no secondary, an inexperienced backup quarterback and every offensive weapon “questionable” or previously injured, then they’ll head into the Yates Cup with a load of confidence.
Mount Allison will win the Loney Bowl for the second-straight year
The Mount Allison Mounties deserve to win the Loney Bowl out of the AUS for many reasons. 1) They are the only team in the entire country to finish with a perfect 8-0 season. 2) They had arguably their best season offensively. 3) They ended up rising as high as 6th in the country on the CIS Top 10. 4) They would have the opportunity to play the OUA champion instead of being beat up by Laval. Mount Allison impressed me from game one to game eight, and while yes, they are an AUS team, we need to acknowledge the impressive run they are having.
Calgary gets a wakeup call
Wakey, wakey, Calgary Dinos. Considering the way the Dinos’ year has gone, they deserve a wakeup call that kicks them out of contention for the Vanier Cup. An illegible player ruling disciplined the defending CWUAA champions to give them their first loss of the season and their second loss came in a 50-31 defeat to the Manitoba Bisons to finish off the season — a game where Andrew Buckley, Mercer Timmis and Jake Harty all played from start to finish. The other close call? A narrow 42-41 victory over those same Bisons on a missed field goal.
McMaster loses to Ottawa
In his column this week, Neate Sager asks whether the first game really matters. Both Guelph/Western and Ottawa/McMaster are rematches of games where the unexpected happened. The Gee-Gees in the final game of the regular season thwarted the Marauders, 38-18, en route to securing them a playoff position. What happened next? Ottawa went on to upset the Windsor Lancers in their first home playoff game in ages. Regardless of whether or not Mac was resting its starters, the fact of the matter is that Ottawa can say they’re the only team in the OUA to defeat the Marauders, and will use that as confidence in a game that could have them pull off the ultimate defeat. Why can’t it happen? Because the football world is already on its head and it can’t handle another Cinderella story. But damn, it would be nice to see.
What will happen?:
Western will not two-peat, lose to Guelph
I hate admitting this because I truly do not believe the Gryphons are that good of a team, but when Western finished their quarterfinal game with a backup quarterback, a concussed Brian Marshall, an injured Garrett Sanvido, a questionable George Johnson — you get the idea, as Morris Dalla Costa pointed out for the London Free Press — there were few question marks around whether Western will be able to compete. Their secondary is destroyed, and unless the weather plays against the Gryphons and helps Western out, I think we’re going to see the Guelph back in the Yates Cup final.
Laval will waltz into the RSEQ final
As much as I would love an upset, Laval is just too good. Even on a bad day, Laval still plays better than most teams in the country. Concordia’s not strong enough, and the only team that can beat Laval competitively is Montréal — a potential matchup in the RSEQ final. But right now, we’ll have to sit back and sulk as Laval walks over another club en route to another potential Vanier appearance.
St. FX will be scrutinized if they can’t beat Mount Allison
“Unsustainable” is the word of the month for the St. FX X-Men. Regardless of the steep hill they have in the AUS final against a very strong Mount Allison team, if they can’t pull out the win, the club will be reevaluated to see whether or not it is worth sustaining — why put resources into something that can’t win or bring in revenue? St. FX hasn’t won a provincial championship since 1996 and before then won 11. If money isn’t flowing into the program, it can’t grow. Talk of the future of the St. FX football team will be heavily influenced by their performance Saturday.
Editor’s note: At the time of print, Saskatchewan had already lost to the Manitoba Bisons to move on to the CWUAA final. Which on its own was a surprising turn of events. What will Manitoba do next?!