The 2017 U SPORTS football schedule is down to its last seven games, starting with four promising conference finals on Saturday and Tuesday.
New monarchs will be crowned in the AUS as Saint Mary’s downed two-time defending champion StFX last weekend to set up a Loney Bowl date with Acadia in Wolfville, N.S.
Meanwhile, the three other league will be rematches of last year’s exciting championship games, all of which were decided by three points, including Laval’s 20-17 Dunsmore Cup win over Montreal, Laurier’s 43-40 Yates Cup triumph versus Western, and Calgary’s 46-43 Hardy Cup victory against UBC.
The winners will advance to the Uteck Bowl (OUA at AUS) and Mitchell Bowl (RSEQ at Canada West) national semifinals on Oct. 18. The U SPORTS campaign then culminates on Nov. 25 with the 53rd ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup at Tim Hortons Field, in Hamilton.
Here is a game-by-game look at the conference finals, as well as a detailed schedule for the next three weeks (including all television broadcast and webcast information).
NOTE: For all the information on the 53rd Vanier Cup (including tickets) visit vaniercup.com.
The Skinny: Laval extends its U SPORTS record streak with its 15th consecutive conference final appearance, while Montreal’s school record now stands at five straight... This will mark the fifth straight Dunsmore Cup final between the archrivals, with each of the previous four having been decided by three points or less... The visiting team has won each of the last three RSEQ championship games, including back-to-back Montreal triumphs in Quebec City in 2014 and 2015... Laval’s nationally top-ranked defence has recorded shutouts in three of its last five games, including a 45-0 semifinal win over Sherbrooke last Saturday and a 22-0 victory over Montreal on Oct. 21, which marked the Carabins’ first shutout loss since 2002... 2017 Head-to-Head (1-1): Montreal 21-16 (Sept. 9 home); Laval 22-0 (Oct. 21 home)... All-Time Dunsmore Cup Titles: Laval 13, Montreal 2... Head-to-Head Conference Finals (8): Laval leads all-time series 6-2... Head-to-Head Dunsmore Cup Wins (Laval): 2016 (20-17 away); 2013 (14-11 home); 2011 (30-7 home); 2009 (31-7 home); 2005 (19-13 home); 2004 (30-12 away)... Head-to-Head Dunsmore Cup Wins (Montreal): 2015 (18-16 away); 2014 (12-9 OT away)... Key Stats (Laval): First in the nation in points allowed in league play (9.6 per game), second in total yards allowed (304.8 per game), against the run (99.4) and interceptions (14), and fourth against the pass (205.4)... Key Stats (Montreal): First in the country against the run in conference play (75.3 yards per game)... Head Coach’s Take (Glen Constantin - Laval): “It will once again be an exciting final, that’s for sure. It’s the kind of game we want for our student-athletes, in front of the best crowd in the country. Regular season results mean nothing at this point. It’s a new game, a new challenge for us. That’s what we’ve been working on since Sunday.”... Head Coach’s Take (Danny Maciocia - Montreal): “In all likelihood it should be another classic Montreal-Laval battle, where most games are decided in the dying moments. It will be a very intense game and it will be crucial for us to win the battles on both lines of scrimmage in order to have a chance to extend our season. It’s one of the best, if not the best rivalry in Canadian university sport and we’re excited to tackle that challenge.”
The Skinny: The only undefeated team in the country heading into the conference finals, Western returns to the Yates Cup for the third straight year, all on home turf, but has lost the previous two, including against Laurier last November... While the Mustangs have captured a record 30 Yates Cup titles in their storied history, including their most recent one in 2013, their last triumph over the Golden Hawks in the OUA final dates back to 1995 and their last championship win over Laurier on home turf dates back to 1988... The Hawks have won the last two head-to-head finals in 2016 and 2005... Western’s nationally top-ranked offence was once again lethal in last Saturday’s semifinal win over Guelph with 66 points but its defence might have shone even brighter, limiting the Gryphons to 77 total yards... 2017 Head-to-Head (1-0 Western): 29-13 (Sept. 30 away)... All-Time Yates Cup Titles: Western 30, Laurier 8... Head-to-Head Conference Finals (13): Western leads all-time series 8-5... Head-to-Head Yates Cup Wins (Western): 1995 (10-9 away); 1994 (38-36 away); 1988 (27-6 home); 1985 (19-16 home); 1980 (51-28 home); 1977 (22-17 home); 1976 (28-14 home); 1974 (19-8 away)... Head-to-Head Yates Cup Wins (Laurier): 2016 (43-40 away); 2005 (29-11 home); 1991 (13-12 away); 1978 (19-14 away); 1972 (38-27 home)... Key Stats (Western): First in the country during the regular season in points scored (48.3 per game), total yards (608.5) and rushing (309.9)... Key Stats (Laurier): Third-highest scoring team in the country in conference play (38.5 points per game) and second in sacks on defence (27)... Head Coach’s Take (Greg Marshall - Western): “Is it harder to beat them the second time around? Yeah, it is, but it’s another football game. We’re going to play the offence and defence that brought us here. You always add a few wrinkles in, but for the most part I think both teams will go in saying ‘you know what, you’ve got to execute offensively and defensively and do the things we’ve been successful at all year’.”... Head Coach’s Take (Michael Faulds - Laurier): “Like last year, Western has steamrolled right through the regular season and their first playoff game, and our guys are extremely motivated to try and derail this freight train. One of our goals from August 10th, the first day of training camp, was to repeat as Yates Cup champions. We are four tough quarters away from doing so, and that has everyone around the program excited.”
The Skinny: Calgary extends a pair of Canada West record streaks with its 10th consecutive Hardy Cup appearance and its eighth straight on home turf, while UBC returns for the third year in a row, which marks the Thunderbirds’ longest streak since a four-year run from 1996 to 1999... The Dinos are currently tied with Alberta with 16 Hardy Cup titles, one more than the T-Birds and two behind all-time leader Saskatchewan... It marks the first time the two storied programs face each other in three straight conference finals, following Calgary’s 46-43 triumph last November and UBC’s 34-26 upset win in 2015... UBC head coach Blake Nill, in his third season at the helm of the T-Birds after nine campaigns leading the Dinos, has now guided his teams to 10 straight Hardy Cup appearances... 2017 Head-to-Head (1-0 Calgary): 31-17 (Sept. 29 away)... All-Time Hardy Cup Titles: Calgary 16, UBC 15... Head-to-Head Conference Finals (9): Calgary leads all-time series 5-4... Head-to-Head Hardy Cup Wins (Calgary): 2016 (46-43 home); 2011 (62-13 home); 1992 (46-33 OT away); 1983 (21-12 home); 1977 (13-12 home)... Head-to-Head Hardy Cup Wins (UBC): 2015 (34-26 away); 1997 (39-21 home); 1986 (49-3 home); 1978 (26-8 home)... Key Stats (Calgary): Ranked first in Canada West and second in the country in both points scored (42.5 per game) and passing yards (347.6) during the regular season... Key Stats (UBC): Defence ranked first in Canada West in most major categories in league play, including points allowed (21.5 per game), total defence (393.0 yards per game), against the run (119.6), against the pass (273.4) and interceptions (13)...... Head Coach’s Take (Wayne Harris Jr. - Calgary): “They have some great athletes on both sides of the football. O’Connor is one of the best quarterbacks around, Pinto has blazing speed, and the rest of their receivers are very good as well. Defensively, Katsantonis is an unbelievable safety, he’s a great hitter with great range. They present a lot of challenges from that standpoint. Ultimately it comes down to execution and discipline, eliminating the mistakes and the turnovers. Those are the kinds of things that cost you football games, and at playoff time they become much more magnified and harder to overcome. We’re going to need to be disciplined, secure the football, and making sure we’re prepared to battle for a full 60 minutes.”... Head Coach’s Take (Blake Nill - UBC): “We definitely are the underdog. With all respect, Calgary has earned every accolade that’s been bestowed on them. They were the number one team in the country, they still probably are the number one team in the country. They just have a tremendous culture, tremendous veteran leadership, and their coaching staff does a great job preparing for opponents and game planning. The biggest thing I think we need to be able to do is to overcome the culture of the program. Calgary believes they’re going to have success, they know how to attain success. We just got to go in, do our best to prepare our guys and go in knowing that if we play to our potential we have a good chance of being successful.”
The Skinny: Acadia will play in its first Loney Bowl since a 17-9 home win over Saint Mary’s in 2012, while the Huskies – looking for their first title since 2010 - will battle for AUS supremacy for the first time since 2013, when they were upset 20-17 by visiting Mount Allison... Acadia is making its record 29th appearance since the inaugural AUS championship game in 1973 and currently holds a 13-15 mark in title matches, while Saint Mary’s is making its 28th appearance and goes in with a 19-8 dossier... Saint Mary’s also claimed four banners between 1960 and 1972 when the title was awarded to the regular season champions, for a record 23 overall AUS crowns... This will mark the 18th final between the two programs, with the Huskies leading the head-to-head series 11-6 and the home team winning the last 15 duels dating back to 1976... Saint Mary’s current six-year title drought is the school’s longest since an 11-year dry spell from 1975 to 1985... 2017 Head-to-Head (1-1): Saint Mary’s 17-10 (Sept. 15 home); Acadia 33-23 (Oct. 21 home)... All-Time Conference Titles: Saint Mary’s 23, Acadia 13... Head-to-Head Conference Finals (17): Saint Mary’s leads all-time series 11-6... Head-to-Head Conference Final Wins (Acadia): 2012 (17-9 home); 2011 (39-20 home); 2006 (32-24 home); 1980 (27-10 home); 1976 (19-14 home); 1975 (10-3 away)... Head-to-Head Conference Final Wins (Saint Mary’s): 2010 (37-8 home); 2004 (24-7 home); 2001 (38-7 home); 2000 (38-18 home); 1999 (25-24 home); 1994 (60-14 home); 1993 (48-28 OT home); 1989 (46-2 home); 1988 (37-35 home); 1987 (30-23 home); 1974 (29-9 away)... Key Stats (Acadia): Defence ranked first in the AUS in total yards (375.5) and rushing yards (117.3) allowed per game in league play, and tied for second in the nation in interceptions (14)... Key Stats (Saint Mary’s): Defence led the country in interceptions (16) and touchdowns (5) in conference play, while offence ranked first in the AUS in points (30.9), total yards (474.6) and passing yards (316.6) per game... Head Coach’s Take (Jeff Cummins - Acadia): “Our players and coaches have worked very hard since January and throughout the season to get us to this point. We are honoured and humbled to represent Acadia University and our conference in what has been a very competitive season. We know we are playing a very good football team and thus have put together a game plan that will allow us to execute what we do best.”... Head Coach’s Take (James Colzie III – Saint Mary’s): “We are facing an Acadia team that is well-coached, extremely balanced, and will not hurt themselves with foolish penalties or turnovers. It starts and ends with their incredible offensive line and to top it off they are a battle-tested group that has been in these types of playoff games before.”
NOTE: Click HERE for the complete 2017 schedule & results
November 11 (conference finals)
- OUA (Yates Cup): No. 5 Laurier (7-2) at No. 2 Western (9-0), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (CHCH & OUA.TV)
- RSEQ (Dunsmore Cup): No. 3 Montreal (7-1) at No. 1 Laval (8-1), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (TVA Sports)
- CW (Hardy Cup): No. 6 UBC (7-2) at No. 4 Calgary (8-1), 3 p.m. ET/noon PT (Sasktel maxTV, TELUS Optik TV, Bell MTS & CanadaWest.TV)
November 14 (conference finals)
- AUS (Loney Bowl) : No. 8 Saint Mary’s (6-3) at No. 7 Acadia (6-2), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 & AUStv.ca)
November 18 (national semifinals)
- Uteck Bowl: OUA at AUS, 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT (Sportsnet & TVA Sports)
- Mitchell Bowl: RSEQ at Canada West, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT (Sportsnet & TVA Sports)
November 25 (national final)
- 53rd ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup: 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (Sportsnet & TVA Sports)
VANIER CUP FACT: The longest receiving touchdown in Vanier Cup history was a 92-yard pass from Hec Crighton Trophy-winning quarterback Benoit Groulx to Mathieu Bouvette in the third quarter of the 2008 championship, in a 44-21 victory of the Laval Rouge et Or over the Western Mustangs.