Football: Top 10 Tracker, Week 9: Laval or Calgary at No. 1, and are we ignoring Western? Plus Laurier and Acadia seize the day

O glorious Saturday! First-time starter Tristan Arndt led Laurier to a beatdown of McMaster in Ontario's bye bowl, two teams aren't in first place anymore and couple are not in the playoffs.

And did Arndt ever say buh-bye to the Marauders linebackers and D-backs on a 53-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter. Scramble, wheels, celly!

The Saturday in SportsBall:

  • Laval upended Montréal 22-0 in the No. 3 vs. No. 1 matchup, wresting first place in Quebec and possibly the No. 1 ranking, although there are two other teams worth considering for that spot. Sounds like it was grind time. Led by Gabriel Ouellet who made a national record-tying four interceptions, the Rouge et Or D had six INTs and held the Carabins to 227 yards.
  • Acadia will host the Loney Bowl after a 10-point victory against No. 10 Saint Mary's. Acadia went Wright at SMU, one could say. They ran Dale Wright on 10 consecutive plays during a drive midway through the first half. Ultimately they were stopped on downs, but that tenderized the Huskies defence and, soon enough, quarterback Cody Cluett led Acadia on a 23-0 run in the second quarter.

    Huskies QB Kaleb Scott left with an injury but is likely to be available for SMU's final regular-season game. 
  • OUA's playoff field will be 1) Western 2) Laurier 3) McMaster 4) Ottawa 5) Guelph and 6) Queen's. Waterloo (4-4) and Carleton (3-5, but how about that Panda Game?) playing left out.
  • No. 2 Calgary and No. 4 Western each made a case for first-place votes. The Dinos sealed first in Canada West with a 42-30 win at Regina, where not unlike their roadie last week, they really only went full-throttle for a quarter. They are the ranking still-undefeated team.

    Remember how everyone laughed at TSN this week for the click-bait question about whether Auston Matthews gets enough credit for the Toronto Maple Leafs' fast start, literally one day after its lead Sportscentre story was about — wait for it — Auston Matthews? Wondering whether Western got enough credit for its regular season might seem to be in a similar vein. But the Mustangs finished with an average winning margin of 35.1 points whilst out-gaining the opposition by 320.5 yards per game. They gained more yards in the rushing phase than their D has allowed in total.

  • UBC and Regina will have a Second-Place Showdown next week in Vancouver. Winner hosts a playoff rematch seven days hence.
  • Laurier earned a week off, and likely a place back in the top 5.  The Golden Hawks were impressive, while their avian brethren, No. 6 UBC, squeaked out a win.
  • Guelph got a character win going into the playoffs, surmounting a 13-point deficit to overtake Carleton 28-23. Defensive back Derek Drouillard sealed the win with a third-down tackle with 13 seconds left when Carleton was vainly trying to march for a game-winning, season-saving touchdown. 
  • And Carleton Twitter fell silent. Carleton set out five years ago to emulate a privately bankrolled Quebec conference team. Which they have, only it's Sherbrooke instead of Laval.

    It's a totally-Ottawa thing — "world's biggest village" — that 90 per cent of the people who basked in the glory of a fourth consecutive Panda Game victory likely did not even notice that Carleton missed the playoffs.

    What is true above all else is that the university game is better for having schools attempt an ambitious football reboot. Also true: Carleton has yet to play in a Yates Cup after five seasons. After five seasons, Laval had already played in three conference finals and had a Vanier Cup banner.
  • Queen's is the first team in 10 years to make the playoffs after an 0-4 start. One could really be cynical here: the Gaels won out against the same four non-playoff programs that Western knocked off during the media-created Mustang Miracle in 2007. Their schedule lacked both Laurier and McMaster. 
How does all this affect the Top 10?

  1. Montréal (5-1 RSEQ, 22-0 road defeat No. 3 Laval) — Six picks, but none were pick-sixes, so there is that. Hang your heads in shame, Montréal. They rate a drop to No. 3 at minimum, No. 4 at maximum. It was the second game of the season when Samuel Caron (four interceptions Saturday) and cohorts did not produce an offensive touchdown. That McGill game a few weeks ago was a harbinger.
  2. Calgary (7-0 CW, 42-30 road win at No. 8 Regina) — One reason for the tight scoreline was, you guessed it since it was a game in Regina in October, the wind. It was strong enough that Calgary took a safety from its own 26-yard line in the second quarter.

    Calgary took the wind for the third quarter, but QB Adam Sinagra had some tough drops in that quarter and the offence was unable to re-stretch the lead. Going into the fourth quarter with a small lead and big wind in its face can be death by a thousand cuts, but the Dinos made at least one first down on each drive and scored twice. A shout goes out to D-back Matthew Lucyshyn; he derailed a Regina comeback with a third-down pass breakup early in the final quarter. Oh, and he ran back an interception for a touchdown.
  3. Laval (6-1 RSEQ, 22-0 home win against No. 1 Montréal) — So, Laval-Calgary in the Mitchell Bowl on Nov. 18 will be the real Vanier, eh? I plan on ruminating over my No. 1 vote — as if it really matters — for several hours to the exclusion of all else on this Sunday.

    The Rouge et Or defence had, in Glen Constantin's estimation, one of the best games it's ever had by suppressing Montréal and raising hell with a four-man pass rush.

    The crowd was 18,383 in Ste-Foy, Que., so the Vanier Cup has to draw at least that many or it's a complete bust.
  4. Western (8-0 OUA, 63-10 home win against Ottawa) — The 'Stangs gave free tuques to fans, then put the boots to Ottawa.  Now, is it possible that someone in London saw Ottawa-area producer and former McMaster defensive back Jesse Card go on record with a prediction about the Mustangs?

    Some high-larity in the fun fact that Ottawa's only touchdown came from, wait for it, Western QB Chris Merchant throwing a pick-six. Not high-larious: Merchant left early with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that does not appear to be serious.
  5. McMaster (6-2 OUA, 40-15 road loss against at No. 7 Laurier) — The Marauders should not be ranked lower than Guelph, which it beat head-to-head. But Guelph defeated Laurier by 10 at home, and the Marauders lost against Laurier by 25 points on the road. Tough call when it splits that way.

    Friend of the blog Marshall Ferguson took some flak on Twitter for being quote, unquote, a hard marker against his alma mater after ranking McMaster No. 8. But Ferguson is certainly vindicated after Mac's blowout loss to a team that made a change at quarterback.
  6. UBC (5-2 CW, 17-16 road win at Manitoba) — Doing just enough to get the W and move on to Regina; that's the Thunderbird Way, so it seems. Trivel Pinto housed a tunnel screen from 80 yards away to get UBC up early, whilst Stavros Katsantonis (three interceptions) and Ben Cummings (189 receiving-rushing) were the closers in the fourth quarter.

  7. Laurier (6-2 OUA, 40-15 home win against No. 5 McMaster) — Bump them above UBC after shredding McMaster? I would say so.

    Small statistical irony: Waterloo's Tyler Ternowski won the OUA receiving title with a cool 141 yards per game. Laurier's Kurleigh Gittens Jr. finished second at 119.1 whilst claiming the national record for total receptions with 75.

    It's ironic that a Waterloo receiver led the league in the big category by which receivers are ranked (Gittens had more yards, but Ternowski played five games, so he's qualified) but a Laurier player took a record away from Waterloo. The Warriors' Dustin Zender set an OUA mark with 63 in 2011, with Nick Anapolsky matching it in '12 before setting a national mark with 74 a year later.

     Prior to this season, there were 16 instances of a receiver tallying 60 catches. Only two, Julian Feoli-Gudino with 2008 Laval and George Johnson with 2013 Western, were on conference champion teams.
  8. Regina (4-3 CW, 42-30 home loss to No. 2 Calgary) — Gave Calgary a fight and that's good enough to be No. 9, unless one wants to take both Acadia and SMU. That really wouldn't make any sense when not a single voter listed Acadia last week.

    Quarterback Noah Picton will need 264 yards against UBC to reach 10,000 for the career.
  9. Guelph (5-3 OUA, 28-23 win at Carleton) — I'm a little higher on Gryph power than the entire panel, and likely will have them up around No. 8.

    Ontario, of course, re-seeds for the semifinals. There's good potential for both road teams to win in the quarter-finals next week. As for Guelph-Ottawa, strap in for Johnny Augustine vs. Jackson Bennett and Jacob Scarfone vs. Jamie Harry (more or less).

    The last two Gryphons-Gee-Gees games have gone to double overtime, so we expect triple OT this time.

    Also, if you thought Theo Landers and Alex Lavric would be a quarterback matchup in the playoffs, you're a liar but can I come on your next trip in September?
  10. Saint Mary's (5-2* AUS, 33-23 road loss at Acadia) — Acadia should go into the poll with the Huskies dropping out. A loss is never good, but SMU at least got some live-action reps for backup QB Cam Valardo.

    The drop count for SMU receivers was in the double-digits on Saturday and they had four fumbles. In a span of the second quarter, they went two-and-out, fumble, two-and-out and a fumble on possessions that all started inside their 35. Acadia pounced with 23 unanswered points.

    On the plus side, the Huskies know they're home for the next two weeks. They also control who they play in the playoffs to an extent.
Also in consideration:
  • Acadia (6-2 AUS, 33-23 win against No. 10 Saint Mary's) — Nicely done, Acadia, now you get a double bye before the Loney Bowl as you try not to lose momentum à la the 2016 Calgary Stampeders.

    The Axemen balled out with the ball-hawking, taking away six fumble recoveries and interceptions. The offensive stats don't convey a lot of flash, but the offensive line had a day, springing the aforementioned Wright for 26 touches for 164 rushing-receiving yards.

    This is probably the Axemen's biggest victory since their last conference title in 2012.
  • Ottawa (5-3 OUA, 63-10 loss at No. 4 Western) — Will be home for the quarter-final, but likely an underdog against surging Guelph.
  • Saskatchewan (2-5 CW, 49-23 road loss at Alberta) — Saskatchewan should never have had Top 10 support. This space should simply be used to talk up Alberta running back Ed Ilnicki as a Hec Crighton candidate. Ilnicki has more than 1,300 rushing yards; the next two leading rushers in Canada West have 1,400 put together. And yes, it's dating yourself if you ask whether Ilnicki has a touchdown dance called the Ilnicki Shuffle.
  • Concordia (3-3 RSEQ, bye week) — Will get Montréal in the playoffs, and the person who comes with a scatological nickname for that matchup — in light of the gastroenteritis fiasco — should have a church built in their honour.
(* Saint Mary's record includes a forfeit.)
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