Voters in the poll have free reign to decide how much stock to give to exhibition results, such as Manitoba's 50-7 win against defending national champion UBC last Friday at Westhills Stadium on Vancouver. Those games aren't played at full intensity, and the road team is often coming with a lean travel squad whereas the hosts will carry extra players.
The first poll of the season is always as the hardest; an invisible hand -- thank you, Adam Smith -- tends to help a consensus develop. Six teams got at least one No. 1 vote, and there seems to be strong consensus around eight teams. That's really all that should be ranked, but for marketing purposes, you need 10 teams. A novel total would break the haters' brains.
- UBC Thunderbirds (266, 20): Never been a fan of the 'they are champs until proven otherwise' argument, since it defeats the purpose of having an opinion about who is the best. The 'Birds are young, but they showed last season that the early stages of a season aren't a be-all.
- Montreal (261, five): The line out of the Carabins' camp: "Even the pope is replaceable." New quarterback Samuel Caron has been in the system for a few seasons, and aged-out Gabriel Cousineau has stayed on as an assistant coach. Time will tell how U de M manages the transition.
- Laval (218): For the first time in memory, Laval comes out of the chute without someone thinking they are No. 1. They are rebuilding, relatively, and perhaps the age cap finally is starting to have an effect.
- Western (188, two): As a greater mind put it, good to see the blowout issue has been addressed in Ontario! The Mustangs beat Windsor by 72 points in the opener. Last season, they met in Week 1 and Western won by 69. Defensive lineman John Biewald, who was in camp with the Ottawa RedBlacks, returns to #The613 for Sunday's game against Carleton. As if he won't find motivation intrinsically.
- Manitoba (182, one): Someone put stock in the wipeout at Westshore, judging from the first-place vote. Theo Deezar had three touchdown passes. The Bisons welcome in Calgary on Thursday.
- Guelph (177): All three rotational tailbacks got exactly 11 totes against U of T, with aptly named Mack Jones counting 92 yards and two TDs. Outside linebacker Riley Baines, who missed the Yates Cup season while upgrading some courses, made his return with a sack last week.
- Calgary (147, two): Lose the Hardy Cup two seasons in a row and everyone forgets you have been pretty damn good for a long time. I put Calgary in my top 5, and not just because new QB1 Jimmy Underdahl is a left-hander, which is rare in three-down football for reasons no one has ever been able to explain.
- McMaster (146, one): Asher Hastings, Dan Vandervoort and the whole Maroon and Grey gang averaged 9.8 yards per play in the 40-10 win against Carleton. Mac's September slate is Toronto-Waterloo-Ottawa-bye, so there might be some opportunity to be a little experimental before that circled date on the calendar, Oct. 1 vs. Guelph.
On little more than a hunch, I had Mac at No. 4 with Montréal, Western, Calgary as the top three and Laval at No. 5.
- Carleton (37): The Ravens certainly were caught off-guard against McMaster, and it doesn't get much easier with Western coming to the nation's capital on Sunday. It is a pivotal season for CU, since underachieving is going to slow the momentum the program had at the launch phase. A greater concern than the 30-point loss is that key defender D'Sean Thelwell got banged up last Sunday. Still a good chance of being a 6-2 team.
- Laurier (37): Since the other two big-boy conferences have yet to play, having a fourth OUA team as a placeholder at No. 10 makes sense. There's some evidence on them, compared to Concordia or Saskatchewan. Laurier's Onyekas were outstanding against Queen's: Nakus Onyeka had nine tackles and two sacks, whereas Godfrey Onyeka housed an interception return for the ahead-for-good TD.