In honour of this week’s Vanier Cup semi-final games, we’ve retired the OUA Morning Warmup and replaced it with the CIS Morning Warmup. The coverage is the same but the name has been changed to protect the writer from accusations of OUA bias. Today, we have a double-header of national semi-final games as we’ve reached the final four in Canadian university football. The OUA champion Western Mustangs will travel to Quebec City to battle the undefeated and national #1 Laval Rouge et Or in the Uteck Bowl. In the other game, the Calgary Dinos host the Saint Mary’s Huskies in a rematch of one of last year’s semis in the Mitchell Bowl.
Uteck Bowl: #2 Western Mustangs (9-1) at #1 Laval Rouge et Or (11-0) [12:00 EST]
It’s #1 versus #2. The Laval Rouge et Or have been the unquestioned top team in the country since the season has started. Western has worked their way progressively up the rankings to the second spot by season’s end. This game is a rematch of the 2008 Vanier Cup which I called for UWO campus radio but it’s definitely not the same two teams that did battle under the lights of Ivor Wynne Stadium.
This year, Laval has looked vulnerable at times. During the regular season, Montreal gave Laval an epic battle until the final quarter in what was then a battle of the unbeatens. Last week’s Dunsmore Cup saw the Sherbrooke Vert et Or stay within a point of Laval until the final minute. Western hasn’t looked any better. They haven’t put together a full 60 minute effort in either of their playoffs games. The warning signs were there when Western laid an egg in the first quarter of the Toronto game. They didn’t get much better in the playoff games against McMaster and Ottawa but they were still able to pull out wins. I somehow doubt that anything less than 100% for 60 minutes will allow Western a chance to win this one.
What could make a difference this time as opposed to the last time these teams met is that Western knows what they’re up against. They looked like the proverbial big fish in the small pond who wondered out to the ocean only to get eaten by a shark. Coach Marshall should have his team better prepared to handle the Laval onslaught which controlled the line of scrimmage all day. Of course, Laval will still have the massive size advantage on the line which should allow them to control the battle all day long. However, Coach Marshall should be able to design a game plan that compensates for losing the battle on the line.
Overall, we have to remember that this is Laval. They’ve had their off days but they still find a way to win. Whether it’s because they’re that damn good or because their talent levels are that much higher than the rest of the QUFL, we’ll find out this afternoon. But remember to never bet against Laval… Except maybe against the spread.
CIS Bowl Watcher’s Guide to Draft Eligible Players (TSN)
TV: TSN, Radio-Canada
Radio: CJBK 1290 AM (London), CHYZ 94.3 FM (Quebec City), Quebec CHRC 800 AM (Quebec City)
Mitchell Bowl: #9 St. Mary’s Huskies (6-3) at #5 Calgary Dinos (8-2) [3:30 EST]
I double took when I saw this was the Mitchell Bowl matchup. That’s because this was last year’s Uteck Bowl game in Halifax. Last year’s game wasn’t much to write home about if you’re a Huskies fan because they were drubbed by the Dinos to the tune of 38-14. Of course, the Dinos couldn’t translate Uteck Bowl success into a Vanier Cup after they lost an epic game to Queen’s.
The stories of these teams this season were their quarterbacks. Erik Glavic, last year’s Hec Crighton award winner, missed part of the season with a knee injury which he is still working back to all-star form from. In last week’s Hardy Cup game, he went a solid 14-for-18 for 270 yards before calling it an afternoon to rest for this afternoon’s game. On the East Coast, Jack Creighton was benched after a slow start to the season. Then he decided that he was bigger than the Huskies and moved back to Ontario so he could transfer to an OUA team. That left Micah Brown as the starter and he hasn’t been too bad. He’s been average but last week he threw for 349 yards and 69% completion.
That all being said, I don’t think this year’s battle between Calgary and St. Mary’s will be any different that last year’s. Sure, Calgary isn’t as good this year as they were last but I don’t think that St. Mary’s is any different. The Huskies are better than the rest of the AUS but that’s hardly a great achievement. The Dinos have lost twice to those other Huskies (these ones of the Saskatchewan variety) so they should have enough of a chip on their shoulder that will push them by St. Mary’s and into the Vanier Cup.
CIS Bowl Watcher’s Guide to Draft Eligible Players (TSN)
Radio: CHQR 770 AM (Calgary)
CIS/OUA News and Notes
The Montreal Carabins have a new head coach. It’s former Edmonton Eskimos coach and 2005 Grey Cup champion Danny Maciocia. Despite a 6-3 season this year, Les Bleus chose not to renew the contract of head coach Marc Santerre which has led to a player revolt. Some players are threatening to leave the team en masse in protest of Santerre’s dismissal. It’s believed that the university’s administration wasn’t happy with Santerre’s nonchalant attitude toward academics and his recruiting players based largely on athletic prowess while ignoring the university’s admissions guidelines.
Final CIS Football Rankings
1. Laval Rouge et Or
2. Western Mustangs
3. Saskatchewan Huskies
4. Ottawa Gee-Gees
5. Calgary Dinos
6. McMaster Marauders
7. Montreal Carabins
8. Regina Rams
9. Saint Mary’s Huskies
10. Sherbrooke Vert et Or
Note: Information on broadcasters has been pulled from athletic department websites, the OUA website, and various articles read during the week. We make no guarantees over the completeness or accuracy of the listings.