Football: Week 4 Top 10 tracker — Waterloo bandwagon accepting passengers

Scoreline of the week: Waterloo 45, Carleton 43

So the Battle of Waterloo will be between undefeateds, and no one saw that coming.

When the preseason chatter picked up, there was a thought that Waterloo would get a win or three against the soft underbelly of OUA. The Warriors going to 4-0 after surmounting a 20-point halftime deficit against Carleton takes it up a couple notches. So often it seems underdogs, or teams that don't have a history of winning, just accept their fate at that point Instead, Lucas McConnell and the Warriors offence converted on third-and-longish on back-to-back touchdown drives late in the third quarter. Waterloo scored on five consecutive possessions (on drives covering 74, 61, 75, 84 and 50 yards).

Then there was a last stand with 12 seconds left to seal Waterloo's latest biggest-win-since.

All told, there 1,314 yards offence (679 Waterloo, 635 Carleton).
Questions abound:

Has Waterloo already done enough to clinch a playoff berth? Yes, and there is nothing barbed about that. With their next two at home against the past two Yates Cup champions (Laurier, then Guelph), and then two east-of-the-GTA roadies, it's a tough second-half schedule. One would think there's at least a split coming out of those Queen's/Ottawa games.

But should Waterloo end up 4-4, it's in a decent spot. It gained a tiebreaker against Carleton (1-3), whose ceiling is probably 4-4. Queen's (0-3) also has no margin for error with Western.

Is Chris Bertoia OUA coach of the year? Easy call there.

What are the "last time it happened" dates to remember for Waterloo? Quickly.
  • Last playoff appearance: 2003, as the No. 8 seed in an eight-team playoff. They lost 70-7 against McMaster, and that alone might have been brought an end to having eight teams make the OUA playoffs.
  • Last season above .500: 2001, 4-3-1. Ontario didn't have regular-season overtime until '02. The tie was a 21-21 saw-off against McMaster, which was in the midst of a 36-game unbeaten streak against OUA teams.
  • Last season in the Yates Cup (hey, you never know): 1999.
Anyway, on to how the ballot is shaping up. The top half will change little: Nos. 1, 3 and 4 all won by healthy margins. Laurier put up 40 points and pitched two shutout quarters after recess. But with most teams having played three or four games there's now enough in the can to start ranking teams based on potential.
  1. Montréal (3-0 RSEQ, 28-1 win against Sherbrooke) — Sherbrooke didn't score against Montréal, which justifies this whole not-gonna-figure-out-who's-third-in-Quebec stance.
  2. Laval (2-1 RSEQ, bye week) — I had Laval No. 3 last week.
  3. Calgary (3-0 Canada West, 76-17 road win against Manitoba) — Does the two-yard score that defensive lineman Joel Van Pelt caught in the second quarter qualify as a Fat Guy Touchdown? Probably not, since he managed a passable Big Guy Cartwheel?
  4. Western (4-0 OUA, 59-7 road win against Windsor) — Pretty self-explanatory. Windsor, by the by, has allowed 213 points in four weeks. The three stingiest OUA teams have allowed 155 combined.
  5. Laurier (3-0 OUA, 40-17 win at Queen's) — Remember the peak of the Buffalo Bills' K-Gun  offence in the early 1990s? Laurier is running that sort of stuff with Michael Knevel and Michael Faulds seems to have the counter-move ready whenever someone counters them. Robbie Smith, meantime, set a school record with 4½ sacks against Queen's. There is some symmetry there, since Queen's single-game sack record was set against Laurier in 2008 by Dee Sterling, also in a September game at Richardson.
  6. Regina (2-1 Canada West, 28-18 home win against Alberta) — It looks like Regina might have been oversold. A a 10-point margin and a 448-384 edge in yardage against Alberta seems nondescript.

    In "Canada West gonna Canada West," the score wasn't that high, but both quarterbacks had more than 300 yards.
  7. Saskatchewan (2-1 Canada  West, road loss against UBC) — How well the Huskies rate depends on how they get on at UBC and whether anyone puts stock in the McMaster exhibition game.
  8. Ottawa (3-1 OUA, road loss against No. 9 McMaster) — There might be a case to drop both the Gee-Gees and Marauders, who set offensive football back a half-century in the first half.

    The teams combined for 226 yards of offence and 159 in penalties during the first two quarters as Ottawa inched out to a 4-0 lead. The Southern Ontario humidity — estimated at 38 C at field level — apparently gassed the Gee-Gees, though. Mac started having Jackson White roll out, forcing Ottawa's defensive linemen to chase (and cramp). That adjustment, along with White settling down and making some plays with his legs, paid off with three touchdown drives. Ottawa never came close to scoring.
  9. McMaster (2-1 OUA, 24-7 home win against No. 8 Ottawa) — I put McMaster No. 8 last week and might be duty-bound to leave them there. They beat a ranked team, but the game was a dud.

    Shouting out McMaster's Robbie Yochim, who lost a three-game interception streak by the margin of a toenail. From the press box view at Ron Joyce Stadium, Yochim was in bounds when he made an over-the-shoulder pick during the first quarter, but the official in the vicinity ruled otherwise. C'est la vie.
  10. UBC (2-1 Canada West, 31-10 home win against No. 7 Saskatchewan) — Statement ma— wait, the Thunderbirds have sparklers that shoot out of the goal posts after a touchdown? Sweet sassy molassy! A three-touchdown win over a higher-ranked team probably rates a three-spot jump for UBC.

    The Thunderbirds were always this good, but having Regina right out of the gate didn't do them any favours. Going off play-by-play, it looks like UBC played perfect complementary football in the third quarter. Back-to-back second-down stops induced punts, and Michael O'Connor put together successive touchdown drives to take the lead out to 17 points. Saskatchewan got only three points the rest of the way.
Also in consideration:
  • Guelph (2-2 OUA, 43-6 road win against Toronto) — I didn't vote for UBC last week but assumed it would beat Saskatchewan in its homecoming game, and that worked out for everybody, besides Saskatchewan. Does that mean follow suit and leave out the Gryphons, who have 34, 82 and 43 points in their last three games, before they play McMaster in their homecoming game?

    I'll admit to being painted into a corner with Guelph. One, there is a disdain for putting in a team one hadn't supported previously after it throttled a bottom feeder. Beating U of T 23-6, 43-6 or 63-6, should not make a difference. At the other end of the spectrum, rewarding close losses never sits well. If you're good, you'll upset one of the big teams. But Guelph's losses, both in overtime, don't look that bad. Recency factor also means one could put less stock in the Ottawa game in Week 1.

    Easy storyline for McMaster at Guelph for next week: Marauders freshman QB Jackson White used to back up Guelph QB James Roberts in high school.
  • Waterloo (4-0 OUA, 45-43 road win against Carleton) — Docked by yours truly for barely beating Toronto, but impossible to ignore after the hole they dug out of against Carleton.
  • Saint Mary's (3-0 AUS, 17-10 win against Acadia) — Apparently played to the level of competition, which could require revising their ranking. Saint Mary's had a short week with a Friday night game after last weekend's trip to Quebec. It's understandable, but not excusable.
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