Once again, it was another entertaining and somewhat unpredictable U Sports week. The top teams continue to be the teams to be the best, the middle pack is incredibly competitive and tight, and thanks to an administration error – the York Lions picked up a technical victory after initially losing to McMaster, making the OUA even more chaotic! It’s been a lot of fun so far watching these games, and after our initial ranking last week, here’s how the top 10 at 13thmansports is looking three weeks into the season!
10. Alberta Golden Bears
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Last Game: Win Vs. Manitoba Bisons (34-11)
Next Game: @ Calgary Dinos
After an impressive debut last week against UBC, Alberta signal-caller Eli Helinger made his home debut against Manitoba – hoping to build from his 20/33 235-yard two-touchdown performance in week one. That would indeed be the case for Helinger and the Golden Bears! Despite their now 0-2 record, the Manitoba Bisons were a consensus Hardy Cup contender going into the season. That didn’t deter an Alberta side who after being held scoreless in the first quarter, out on a twenty-four-point clinic in the second quarter! Helinger and his receiver Kolby Hurford utterly dominated this game. The pair combined for four catches, 202 yards, and three touchdowns en route to a comprehensive 34-11 victory. The Alberta defence also got on the act with two sacks, two interceptions, and eleven punts. One thing Alberta will have to clean up going forward is penalties, the Golden Bears had twenty penalties for 174 yards! A stat that they’ll need to clean up if they want to compete with the other Canada West contenders.
9. Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Last Game: Win @ Toronto Varsity Blues (25-20)
Next Game: @ York Lions
After a tough start but spirited showing against Western, Laurier marched up to Varsity Stadium and left Toronto with a narrow 25-20 win! It was an indisciplined game, both teams combined for nineteen penalties and 204 yards but the key difference was Laurier being able to rush for just over a hundred yards more on the day! A combination of Quentin Scott and Tanner Nelmes accounted for 151 yards on the day and one touchdown with QB Taylor Elgersma putting up numbers of 20/31 for 188 yards and two TDs! Starring in the receiving corp was Ethan Jordan – who had six catches for seventy yards including a twenty-eight catch for a touchdown! With York coming up, Laurier will be hoping their offence can once again be productive next week, in what will be a game they will be (quietly) expecting to win.
8. Ottawa Gee-Gees
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Last Game: Win @ McMaster Marauders (20-14)
Next Game: Vs. Guelph Gryphons
Sitting at 2-1, Ottawa has recorded two wins on the road to Windsor and McMaster respectively. Leading the charge on offence have been quarterback Ben Maracle and running back Jean-Paul Cimankinda. Cimankinda currently has 302 yards on the season, accounting for the third highest total in U Sports and with fifty-three carries – leads the lead in rushing attempts. Meanwhile, on defence, a key part of the Gee-Gees 2-1 start has been linebacker James Peter, who leads college football in tackles. Ottawa has a winnable game against an inconsistent Guelph team next, and they’ll be very optimistic about their chances of going 3-1!
7. Queen’s Gales
Previous Ranking: 4th
Last Game: Loss @ Western Mustangs (35-11)
Next Game: @ Carleton Ravens
Going into their rivalry game against the Western Mustangs, the Gaels were looking for revenge against Western after having been humbled 29-0 at home in last year’s Yates Cup final, and they certainly did play better in this game. Queen’s put up 311 yards on offence and actually won the time of possession battle! However, Queen’s was unable to convert the yards into points, only putting eleven points in a 35-11 defeat. There is no shame in losing to Western, but their upcoming fixture at home against the 2-1 Carleton Ravens is now set up to be a crucial game when it comes to OUA playoff seeding.
6. Laval Rouge et Or
Previous Ranking: 5th
Last Game: Loss @ Montreal Carabins (21-18)
Next Game: Vs. Concordia Stingers
Laval and Queen’s are very similar in the sense that this rating feels harsh, and just like the Gales, it’s more to do with the strengths of the teams ahead of Queen’s/Laval, rather than the weaknesses of said teams. Laval kept things closer against Montreal than Queen’s did against Western – in fact, Laval would have been travelling from Montreal back to Quebec City thinking they should have won that game! The problem was that they couldn’t replicate the offensive firepower they had in their previous game against McGill. Arnaud Desjardins went off for five touchdowns last week off of a 23/27 343 yards performance, but he and the offence struggled against the Carabins’ defence. Laval was restricted to just 138 passing yards, three sacks, one fumble that Montreal recovered, one interception and nine punts. Yet despite this, their defence kept them in the game and at one point they held an 18-14 lead in the fourth quarter. We’ve yet to see a complete performance from Laval, but despite the loss, there is room for encouragement with how well they played defensively on enemy territory, and the rematch on October 16th in Quebec City will be must-watch collegiate football!
5. St. Francis Xavier X-Men
Previous Ranking: 6th
Last Game: Win Vs. Acadia Axemen (24-10)
Next Game: @ Bishop’s Gaiters
It’s hard to properly assess AUS teams, but when you’re sitting at 2-0 at this stage, you deserve a seat at the table! The X-Men struggled with penalties during the game, committing twelve infringements for a hundred and two yards but when they played clean, they were efficient. Malcolm Bussey continued his strong start to the season with a 148-yard game which included one touchdown, meanwhile QB played an effective game going 14/24 for 171 yards and a touchdown – not incredible numbers, but not stats that would lead to you losing many games. On defence, Alex Fedchun lead the way again with six and a half tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. Joining him in standing out was once again Nathan Cayouette, who registered an interception and a half sack, and also defensive-lineman Nicholas Schmeiler who also picked off Acadia quarterback Dante Tabacu. In front of a crowd of 1,400 – The. -Men held the Axemen to just 203 yards of total offence, and it’s defensive dominance like that that makes them very tough opposition for everyone in the Atlantic University Sports conference!
4. Regina Rams
Previous Ranking: 7th
Last Game: Win Vs. Calgary Dinos (32-24)
Next Game: Vs. Saskatchewan Huskies
It’s been a great start to the U Sports season for Regina, who after winning just two games all of last season, is now 2-0 for the first time since 2002 after a win against Calgary. The score was closer than it should’ve been at the end, as the Rams stormed into a 32-9 lead going into the fourth quarter before Calgary managed to make the scoreline a more respectable 32-24. After a three-sack game last week, Anthony Bennett recorded a sack in this game to leave him at four for the season, the second-highest sack total in U Sports. Bennett also became just the second-ever d-lineman in team history to record a pick stick after returning an interception twenty-eight yards to the house, and even recovered a fumble inside Calgary’s ten-yard line. Bennet is the anchor for a defence that is playing fantastically to start the season! Late in the game with the lead cut to eight, Regina turned the ball over giving the Calgary Dinos a shot to tie the game! Dinos quarterback Daniel Sananes heaved the ball towards the end-zone, but defensive back Jaxon Ford was positioned perfectly to intercept the ball and ice the game! If Regina is to upset their provincial neighbours Saskatchewan next week, they’ll need to continue to make highlight-reel plays on the defensive side of the ball!
3. Montreal Carabins
Previous Ranking: 3rd
Last Game: Win Vs. Laval Rouge et Or (21-18)
Next Game: Vs. Sherbrooke Vert et Or
Games between the Carabins and Rouge et Or are always box office! This latest edition was no different and was especially memorable for the blue and white side of this rivalry! It wasn’t pretty, Montreal committed eight penalties for a hundred yards and turned the ball over three times including two interceptions that QB Jonathan Sénécal will want to move from as quickly as possible. This game was won for Montreal on defence and special teams. Firstly on defence, linebacker Nicky Farinaccio – who leads all of U Sports in sack yards had seven tackles and two sacks on the day, including a forced fumble on Laval QB Arnaud Desjardins. Alongside him was fellow LB Michael Brodrique, who picked off Desjardins and ran home a sixty-five-yard interception for Montreal’s only touchdown on the day. Montreal won the game 21-18, and fourteen of those points came off the boot of kicker Philippe Boyer. Boyer put up all of Montreal’s points after the first quarter, including an unorthodox field goal from a botched snap, and then the game-winning kick as time expired. It was far from the Carabins’ best game on offence, but being able to find other ways to win games, especially against your closest rival is the sign of a good team!
2. Saskatchewan Huskies
Previous Ranking: 2nd
Last Game: Win Vs. UBC (29-10)
Next Game: @ Regina Rams
After an utterly dominant win over Calgary, the reigning Hardy Cup champions faced tougher opposition in the form of the UBC Thunderbirds. In front of a crowd of 6,032, the Huskies utterly dominated their Vancouver-based opponents through the air. Quarterback Mason Nyhus picked up where he left off last week, going 28/38 for 362 yards and two touchdowns, whilst also gaining nineteen first downs through the air. In two games, Nyhus has thrown for seven touchdowns and 770 yards while boasting the best completion percentage and yards per game in U Sports football! This is a truly dominant pass game, and combined with a defence that includes the likes of Ramsey Derbas and Charlie Ringland, it is a winning combination! It’ll be tough for any team out in Canada West to usurp this Huskies squad.
1. Western Mustangs
Previous Ranking: 1st
Last Game: Win Vs. Queen’s Gaels (35-11)
Next Game: Vs. Waterloo Warriors
This team continues to do what they do best, win games. Against Queen’s, the side regarded by many as the second-best side in the OUA, Western were able to do what the Gaels couldn’t by turning their offensive production into points. The running back tandem of Edouard Wanadi and Keon Edwards once again caused havoc as they rushed for 223 yards and a touchdown both runners seem simply unstoppable this season. Through the air, signal caller Evan Hillock was only required to throw twenty times, but in the twelve times he did complete a throw – three of them accounted for touchdowns! The scoring was shared throughout the receiving corp; as Seth Robertson, Justin Nickson and Savaughn Magnaye-Jones all got on the scoresheet. With five touchdowns to his name this season, Magnaye-Jones leads all U Sports receivers this season in touchdowns with five! Meanwhile, on defence, defensive back Jackson Findlay stood out with two sacks and a pass breakup. This team won their toughest game of the season (at least up until this point) 35-11, and they look just as dominant as ever! One final note, it was great to see a crowd of 7,985 at the game!
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