With all four conferences back in action, the top ten ranking has returned for week eight! There were some surprising results, previous top ten entries Alberta and Sherbrooke lost to the previously winless Calgary and McGill respectively, and elite teams like Western and Queen’s played in closer games than was expected. We’re well into the tail end of the season now, and this is how the contenders are looking with the playoffs just weeks away!
10. UBC Thunderbirds
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Last Game: Win Vs. Manitoba Bisons (27-21)
Next Game: Vs. Saskatchewan Huskies
Returning to form and the top ten is the 3-3 UBC Thunderbirds. They were sitting at 1-3 not too long ago, but back-to-back wins against Calgary and Manitoba have put BC firmly into third place in the West. The win against the Bisons was huge for BC for seeding purposes, Isaiah Knight less the offence to the tune of 122 rushing yards. In games in which Knight has gone over 100 rushing yards, UBC is 3-0 this season – getting him going is key to UBC going forward. Another key is quarterback Garret Rooker. Rooker has thrown just one interception this season, and when you protect the ball – you give yourself a great chance to win games.
9. Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
Last Game: Win Vs. Guelph Gryphons (38-25)
Next Game: Vs. Queen’s Gaels
Sitting with a 5-2, the Hawks look to have fourth place wrapped up in the OUA on the back of three consecutive wins. It’s been a team effort for Laurier, their offence is the fifth-best in U Sports this season on a points-per-game basis, and sit third in rushing yards per game and third best in passing touchdowns thanks to quarterback Taylor Elgersma. Laurier finishes their regular season campaign with a home game against Queen’s, a huge game for Wilfrid in which they can usurp the Gaels spot in the playoff standing.
8. St. Francis Xavier X-Men
Previous Ranking: 6th
Last Game: Win @ Acadia Axemen (46-11)
Next Game: @ Saint Mary’s Huskies
The AUS continues to be dominated by the X-Men, even when they’re on bye, they still seem to be winning! Their closest challengers, the Mount Allison Mounties lost in week Seven, giving STFX a virtually unassailable lead at the top of the AUS and home advantage in the AUS playoffs. It remains to be seen if this is the year an AUS makes it back to the Vainer Cup, that will ultimately be what defines this STFX side who have yet to lose against an AUS opponent since 2019.
7. Ottawa Gee-Gees
Previous Ranking: 8th
Last Game: Win @ York Lions (66-0)
Next Game: Vs. Western Mustangs
This team is one of the hottest in U Sports when it comes to form. Ottawa has won five games in a row, scoring 103 points in their last two games, including a 66-0 dismantling against whipping boys, the York Lions. Ottawa tore York apart on the ground, as the all but certain team MVP Jean-Paul Cimankinda rushed for 231 yards and over ten yards per carry. Cimankinda leads U Sports in rushing yards, carries, and yards per game so far this season. Don’t be surprised if he receives the Hec Crighton Trophy this season, especially if he helps Ottawa beat Western next week.
6. Regina Rams
Previous Ranking: 7th
Last Game: Loss @ Saskatchewan Huskies (23-20)
Next Game: @ Calgary Dinos
No opponent has done as close to a good a job as Regina has in containing the Saskatchewan Huskies, and just like the first fixture between the two, no team has come anywhere near as close to beating the Huskies as the Rams have. Whilst the offence didn’t have a vintage performance (QB Noah Pelletier had his worst statistical game of the season), the defence continued to show why it’s one of the best in collegiate Canadian football. The Rams have held Saskatchewan to an average of just 17 points per game, much lower than their average of 38.5 against the other teams in the West. If Regina can get a complete performance from their offence in a potential Hardy Cup rematch, then do not be surprised if they can turn the table on their provincial rival.
5. Montreal Carabins
Previous Ranking: 4th
Last Game: Loss @ Laval Rouge et Or (22-3)
Next Game: @ Sherbrooke Vert et Or
Everything that could’ve gone wrong on offence, went wrong. With the chance to all but secure home-field advantage for the playoffs and sweep Laval, Montreal instead went into Quebec City and laid an egg. The Carabins had only twelve first downs, ten punts, ten penalties for seventy yards and just three points all game to show for it. The rushing attack also only accounted for sixty-six yards and after Laval scored on a drive that spanned almost the entire length of the field to open the scoring, Montreal never recovered. The good news is that if they do get a rematch with Laval in the Dunsmore Cup, they can’t possibly play as bad as that again (they hope).
4. Queen’s Gaels
Previous Ranking: 3rd
Last Game: Win Vs. McMaster Marauders
Next Game: @ Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
Asides from facing the unstoppable juggernaut that is Western, this was the Gaels toughest test of the season. It was undeniably Queen’s worst performance on offence this season, the Gale’s managed just 195 yards with quarterback Alex Vreeken going just 9/25 and one interception. This game was won by the defence. The Gale’s picked off McMaster QB Andreas Dueck twice, including an interception from Keegan Vane that set up Queen’s for a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. The defence also has four sacks, including a clutch eleven-yard sack from Van Wishart late in the fourth quarter, just when it looked like McMaster was going to march down the field for a game-winning drive. Queen’s got lucky, they’ll have to be a lot e better on offence going forward if they want to get back to the Yates Cup final.
3. Laval Rouge et Or
Previous Ranking: 5th
Last Game: Win Vs. Montreal Carabins (22-3)
Next Game: @ Concordia Stingers
Congratulations to Laval head coach Glen Constantin for becoming the winningest coach in U Sports history! Sunday’s win over Montreal was Constantin’s 197th win as Laval’s head coach, and they did it in dominating fashion against their big rivals. There were 18,000 fans in the stands to watch Arnaud Desjardins throw for over 334 yards and two touchdowns, taking his total to a U Sports-leading seventeen touchdowns! He’s been helped out a lot by receiver Kevin Mital, who has a U Sports-leading ten receiving touchdowns, including one against Montreal on Sunday. They are the hottest team in the RSEQ, and you’d imagine they are the favourites now for the Dunsmore Cup.
2. Saskatchewan Huskies
Previous Ranking: 2nd
Last Game: Win Vs. Regina Rams (23-20)
Next Game: @ UBC Thunderbirds
Saskatchewan has survived their toughest test this season with flying colours, Regina has been a tough opponent for the Huskies, but they did enough to get the job thanks to their defence and special teams. Kicker David Solie was perfect on the day, accounting for 11 of the Huskies’ 23 points and pinning the Rams inside their own twenty-three times from when he punted the ball away. Meanwhile, the defence recorded three interceptions, almost doubling their season total which sits at seven. First in the West is wrapped up, and now Saskatchewan can look forward to Holme playoff games at Griffiths Stadium.
1. Western Mustangs
Previous Ranking: 1st
Last Game: Win Vs. Windsor Lancers (50-18)
Next Game: @ Ottawa Gee-Gees
The mustangs continue to look unstoppable in the OUA. Against a competitive Windsor side, the Mustangs were actually only winning 25-18 going into the fourth quarter, but they soon put the game to bed. Western put up 25 points in the fourth quarter, including three touchdowns, two safeties, plus an interception from the defence to kill any chance the Lancers had. The offence has been the headline makers this season for Western, but the defence is not to be overlooked. They have recorded ten interceptions, twenty sacks, and just under fourteen points per game. It’s one thing to stop this team on offence (which looks impossible) it’s another to score on them!
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