OUA football: Separation Saturday awaits - Laurier-Western, Ottawa-Carleton, Guelph-Mac

Separation Saturday has been set up for Week 6 in Ontario. Whether the 'new order' lasts until Thanksgiving weekend probably comes down to whether Laurier has enough oomph in their offence to hang in with Western.

The Golden Hawks have the most talent on the defensive side of the ball in OUA, and should hold up reasonably well. Kwaku Boateng, et al., will probably be better off if they don't have to play 80 plays, or endure frequent back-to-back ball-control drives. Western's size and shiftiness just wears out opponents.

Ottawa has a physical Panda Game against Carleton, which has played the pass very well but did give up 500-plus to Derek Wendel last season.

McMaster can also push Guelph toward looking forward to the hockey season.

t-1. Laurier (4-0). Remaining: @Western, @Toronto, Guelph, @Windsor

Is Michael (Airin') Knevel the answer at quarterback? Maybe, maybe not, but the Golden Hawks have made the change at the midpoint.

t-1. Ottawa (4-0). Remaining: @Carleton, York, Western, @Queen's 

Outputs such as 41 points, 554 yards and a 29-of-42, 402-yard, three-TD day by Derek Wendel have become accepted as almost routine from Ottawa. That might create the perception of a score-first, defend-maybe-later team, but Ottawa's allowed only four TD in as many games, none in a first half. Two came after sudden-change plays gave the opponent possession inside the 20-yard line. The others involved three-down football.

t-3. Western (3-1). Remaining: Laurier, bye, @Ottawa, McMaster 

The Mustangs could revenge hard on Guelph this week in their Yates Cup rematch, he said. Chris Merchant, the FBS transfer, has yet to really open the throttle, he said. Wait, that actually happened.

Western rolled 50-16 against Guelph, and Merchant was in rhythm on some deep sideline routes on his was to finishing with a nice line of 19-of-33 for 322 yards. Western looks to be on form, although that must always be appended with the dig about the efficacy of an offence that is based on running and giving receivers single coverage.

They are the chalk pick to come out of OUA, let's not kid ourselves. It is more fun to pretend it's either of the teams that have yet to lose.

t-3. McMaster (3-1). Remaining: Guelph, Queen's, @York, @Western

Would really put the pressure on Guelph with a win on Saturday. Excellent shot at being a 6-2 team.

5. Carleton (3-2). Remaining: Ottawa, Windsor, bye, @Waterloo

Carleton's worst-case scenario is 5-3. The walkthrough against York is self-explanatory.

t-6. Guelph (2-3). Remaining: @McMaster, bye, @Laurier, York

They're just a little under .500 ... they're still good! They're still good! They still have to go to Mac and Laurier! They're still good! They're still good! Guelph needs to win one of those road games to get to 4-4, which might be enough for the No. 6 seed. It depends on how many others end up 4-4, especially since they don't have the tiebreaker against Windsor.

The yardage ended up only 511-443 for Western, so Guelph moved the ball, at least between the 25-yard lines. The game never seemed close once Western started driving. Their field goal drives feel like another team's stall at midfield.

The Gryphons aren't as strong in the second and third levels of the defence as their 2012 through '15 teams. It is not what it was, but it certainly is not finished.

t-6. York (2-3). Remaining: bye, @Ottawa, McMaster, @Guelph 

Ibid., see last week's post. York gets a well-timed bye after consecutive losses by an aggregate 95-25 against teams which emphasize the power running game. Neither Ottawa nor McMaster does, so that might help the Lions a little bit for their next two games.

York's Twitter game must be acknowledged. This was after Ross Sandjong-Djarome got a strip sack in the fourth quarter.

t-8. Queen's (1-3). Remaining: @Waterloo, @McMaster, Windsor, Ottawa 

The good news: Nate Hobbs and the Queen's offence put up 490 yards, including 351 by air and 37 by land from the QB. The bad news: it only gestated into 20 points, more than enough to defeat Toronto.

The Gaels are hard to read. The defensive numbers look good, especially after six disruptive plays on Saturday. It's been built against offences which were not high-functioning: Laurier without great quarterback play; Guelph without Augustin and Fraser; Western in the rain with a limited passing game; Toronto without RB Alex Malone.

There might be a parallel to 2006. Danny Brannagan struggled in the middle of that season, but Queen's got into sixth place at 4-4 and won at McMaster in the quarter-final.

t-8. Windsor (1-3). Remaining: Toronto, @Carleton, @Queen's, Laurier

The Toronto-Windsor winner next week will still have a sliver of playoff hope, and the other will be playing for pride.

Casey Wright, the longer-tenured QB, replaced Jalen Brady after the first quarter during their 41-18 defeat against Ottawa. It was an interesting move since Brady didn't appear to be injured.

Windsor linebacker Frank Renaud (12½ total tackles on Saturday) does not make every tackle. It just seems that way.

10. Toronto (1-4). Remaining: @Windsor, Laurier, Waterloo, bye

The Blues can play some D; Michael Leslie had two of their four sacks against Queen's. However, the fact that Malone was  scratched doesn't fully explain the reticence about third-down gambles in the third quarter, when it was still a one-touchdown game.

Toronto punted on third-and-1 at Queen's 47 at the midpoint of the third quarter. They traded possession for 27 yards of field position, since the punt was taken out of the end zone. On the next possession, they punted on third-and-3 at the Queen's 45. It took Queen's three plays to get past the point of the punt, and then some, when Chris Osei-Kusi reeled off a 64-yard reception. The long gainer set up the clinching touchdown in a 20-5 win.

Football Logic would say, "Well, you don't have your best player, so you don't gamble." The point is, "You don't have your best player for first and second down, so you have to gamble by going for it."
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