The reigning OUA champion Western Mustangs top the U SPORTS football national rankings for the fourth straight week and, following their closest win of the season, have now secured first place in the conference standings and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
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Just like the Mustangs’ 45-42 victory over Waterloo on Saturday, the race for first place in the latest national rankings was as close as it gets.
Western (7-0) and the Montreal Carabins (6-0) each received seven first-place votes from the Football Reporters of Canada panel but the Mustangs ended up with 409 total points compared to 399 for the RSEQ conference leaders, who remain at No. 2 for the fourth consecutive week.
Montreal edged Western 203 to 199 in the media voting, while the Mustangs had a 210-196 advantage in the statistical calculation from the ELO Rating System.
Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Huskies (4-2 / 299 points) were the biggest winners in the seventh poll of the campaign, moving up three spots to No. 4.
Rounding out the new top 10 are the No. 3 Laval Rouge et Or (4-1 / 367 points / no change), No. 5 Guelph Gryphons (4-2 / 275 / no change), No. 6 Calgary Dinos (5-1 / 273 / up two positions), No. 7 McMaster Marauders (5-1 / 271 / down three), No. 8 Acadia Axemen (5-0 / 244 / down two), No. 9 Ottawa Gee-Gees (4-2 / 174 / unranked last week) and No. 10 Waterloo Warriors (4-2 / 171 / no change).
Two weeks after edging Guelph 9-3 in a defensive battle, top-ranked Western needed a pair of field goals and a key turnover in the final minute of the fourth quarter to win a shootout against Waterloo at TD Stadium in London, where the top two offences in the OUA combined for 11 touchdowns and 1,023 total yards.
The Mustangs, who have a bye this week before wrapping up league play against Ottawa on Oct. 19, are now undefeated in 27 straight games overall against OUA opponents dating back to the 2016 Yates Cup final and in 29 straight in regular season action dating back to Week 2 of the same campaign.
Meanwhile, Montreal, Laval and Saskatchewan all prevailed convincingly this past weekend.
The Carabins’ stingy defensive unit once again dominated in a 21-3 home win, holding McGill to 249 yards of total offence, including 31 on the ground. Montreal has allowed a U SPORTS-low 9.0 points per game in six contests.
For their part, the reigning Vanier Cup champion Rouge et Or, back in action after a bye week, are the top scoring team in the nation (42.2 points per game) and rank second in overall defence (11.2) after crushing visiting Concordia 74-0.
At Saskatoon, the Huskies followed up on their impressive win over Calgary two weeks ago with a 49-21 domination of Manitoba. Adam Machart racked up 219 rushing yards to up his season total to a U SPORTS-best 931 in six games.
Other Week 7 results from top 10 squads included Calgary 34, Alberta 16 (at Calgary); McMaster 16, Toronto 8 (at Toronto); Ottawa 32, Carleton 10 (at Ottawa).
The 51st Panda Game between Ottawa and Carleton drew 24,626 fans at TD Place in the nation’s capital.
Only nine games are on the Week 8 schedule as Canada West teams head into their traditional Thanksgiving break, in addition to regular byes in the other conferences.
The three top five teams in action this week all face road tests, including No. 5 Guelph at Queen’s (2-4) on Thursday (6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT, OUA TV & YourTV), No. 2 Montreal at Sherbrooke (1-4) on Saturday (2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, TVA Sports), as well as No. 3 Laval at McGill (2-4), also on Saturday afternoon (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, StretchTV).
FRC – U SPORTS FOOTBALL TOP 10 (#7)
For the second straight season, U SPORTS is using the ELO Rating System for the calculation of its weekly national rankings. Powered by RankR, ELO’s unique algorithm blends a statistical calculation with customized variables that is adaptable across a range of sports. For football, it will be combined with the results of the Football Reporters of Canada panel balloting (each weighted 50%) to produce the final top 10.
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Honourable mention: Alberta (142), Laurier (124), Manitoba (84), Mount Allison (56), Saint Mary’s (21)