The Montreal Carabins, who moved up to No. 1 in this week’s national rankings following a close-fought win over reigning Vanier Cup champion Laval, are one of seven teams hoping to remain undefeated during the fourth weekend of U SPORTS football action.
In addition to top-ranked Montreal (2-0) hosting Sherbrooke (0-3) on Friday evening, the Week 4 schedule is highlighted by a pair of top-10 confrontations on Saturday, including No. 8 Ottawa (3-0) at No. 9 McMaster (1-1) and No. 7 Saskatchewan (2-0) at No. 10 UBC (1-1).
Here’s a game-by-game look at the Week 4 matchups.
Sherbrooke (0-3) at No. 1 Montreal (2-0)
The skinny: At first glance, winless Sherbrooke visiting top-ranked Montreal sure looks like the ultimate mismatch. However, the Vert & Or have enjoyed some success against the Carabins in recent years, defeating the RSEQ powerhouse three times since 2012. Last fall, Montreal won both head-to-head contests but needed an 18-0 fourth quarter in the first meeting to steal a 27-20 victory... Keep an eye on (Montreal): Reigning RSEQ MVP Samuel Caron is averaging 357.5 passing yards per game with a 69.2 completion percentage, four touchdowns and no interceptions... Keep an eye on (Sherbrooke): Free safety Anthony Tanguay has racked up a team-leading 20 tackles in three outings.
Acadia (2-1) at Saint Mary’s (2-0)
The skinny: Saint Mary’s is 2-0 for the first time since 2008, when the Huskies won their first five conference games en route to a 7-1 record. Acadia, however, has won the last six head-to-head matchups since going 0-3 against their old AUS foes in 2013... Keep an eye on (Saint Mary’s): New starting quarterback Kaleb Scott ranks second in the country with 379 passing yards per game and is also the Huskies’ leading rusher with 174 yards in two contests... Keep an eye on (Acadia): Wide receiver Eugene McMinns has been the ultimate triple threat with 200.3 all-purpose yards per game, including 155 receiving, 283 on punt returns and 163 on kickoff returns in three contests.
Bishop’s (0-2) at Mount Allison (1-1)
The skinny: If Bishop’s thought life would be easier in Atlantic Canada, think again. So far, the Gaiters have been welcomed to the AUS with a 27-10 loss at Acadia and a 41-21 defeat on home turf at the hands of Saint Mary’s. For their part, the Mounties have been the enigma of the young AUS season, following a resounding 64-23 win over Acadia with a shocking 37-0 loss to StFX... Keep an eye on (Mount Allison): Defensive back Skylar LeBlanc is off to a solid start with 15 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble in two games... Keep an eye on (Bishop’s): Defensive back Arnaud Dandin ranks second in the nation with 9.3 tackles per game.
The skinny: Calgary has scored a U SPORTS-best 50.5 points per game so far in 2017, including 46 in an impressive win over No. 6 Regina last Friday, while Manitoba – about to face its third straight top-10 opponent - has been outscored 76-41 in losses to Saskatchewan and UBC. In 2016, the reigning Canada West champion Dinos won both head-to-head contests, including a 63-6 domination in the second duel... Keep an eye on (Calgary): Sophomore pivot Adam Sinagra leads U SPORTS in passing yards (388.0 per game) and completion percentage (80.3) and also ranks third in TD passes (7)... Keep an eye on (Manitoba): Wide receiver Shai Ross (156.0) and running back Jamel Lyles (153.5) both average over 150 all-purpose yards per contest.
No. 4 Western (3-0) at Windsor (0-3)
The skinny: To say Western is a heavy favourite heading into its Week 4 matchup against Windsor would be an understatement. The undefeated Mustangs have outscored their first three opponents by 136-51, while the winless Lancers have been dominated 154-55, including an 81-10 home loss to Guelph last Saturday. In the lone head-to-head confrontation of 2016, Western prevailed 78-6 in London... Keep an eye on (Western): After leading the country last season with 10 rushing touchdowns, senior running back Alex Taylor is still looking for his first one in 2017... Keep an eye on (Windsor): Marvin Gaynor’s 387 rushing yards after three outings rank first in the nation.
No. 5 Laurier (2-0) at Queen’s (0-2)
The skinny: After posting a 39-0 shutout against Toronto in its 2017 opener, the vaunted Laurier defence allowed 551 total yards – 441 of them through the air – to Carleton last weekend in a narrow 38-35 win. While Queen’s is 0-2, the Gaels could easily be aiming for their third straight win on Saturday, having held the lead in the final two minutes against both Ottawa and Carleton. In 2016, the Golden Hawks won the head-to-head confrontation 37-18 in Week 1... Keep an eye on (Laurier): Wide receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr averages 225 all-purpose yards per game and already has 19 catches for 240 yards after two contests... Keep an eye on (Queen’s): The solid Queen’s defence has been led by lineman Nick Dowd, who has 4.5 tackles for losses, including 2.5 sacks, in two outings.
The skinny: Regina’s high-flying offence led by hec Crighton-winning quarterback Noah Picton goes up against an Alberta defence that so far has allowed a U SPORTS-worst 385.5 passing yards per game, as well as 49.0 points per contest, which ranks 26th in the country. Last October 15, the Golden Bears held Picton without a TD pass and stunned the Rams 19-18 for their only win of 2016... Keep an eye on (Regina): Noah Picton passed for 300 yards or more in eight of nine overall games last season and is 2-for-2 so far in 2017... Keep an eye on (Alberta): Senior running back Ed Ilnicki leads U SPORTS with 147.5 rushing yards per contest.
No. 7 Saskatchewan (2-0) at No. 10 UBC (1-1)
The skinny: Saskatchewan has looked impressive in its first two games under new head coach Scott Flory, especially on the offensive side of the ball with 44 and 43 points against Manitoba and Alberta, respectively. For its part, despite a rebound win last week against Manitoba, the UBC offence has yet to get going as the Thunderbirds rank in the bottom half of U SPORTS in points per game (14th), yards (18th) and passing (19th). The Huskies dominated the 2016 meeting, 40-10... Keep an eye on (Saskatchewan): Quarterback Kyle Siemens leads the country with nine TD passes in only two outings and also ranks fifth in yards per game (345.0)... Keep an eye on (UBC): Freshman linebacker Elliot Graham returned his first career interception on 107 yards for a touchdown last week against Manitoba.
No. 8 Ottawa (3-0) at No. 9 McMaster (1-1)
The skinny: A win is a win is a win, as they say, and Ottawa is looking to start 4-0 for the second straight year after an overtime victory against Guelph, a one-point decision over Queen’s, and a 26-17 success versus York last Saturday in which the Gee-Gees were trailing late in the third quarter. Ottawa’s second-ranked defence (17.0 points per game) goes up against a McMaster offence that has struggled in its first two outings especially through the air, where the Marauders average a U SPORTS-worst 101.5 yards per contest. The 2016 head-to-head went to the Gee-Gees, 40-10... Keep an eye on (Ottawa): Fifth-year kicker Lewis Ward leads the nation with 11 field goals in three games and is the new Gee-Gees record holder with 76 over his career, which ranks fifth on the U SPORTS all-time list... Keep an eye on (McMaster): Senior linebacker Eric Mezzalira has been all over the field in the Marauders’ first two games with a team-leading 15 tackles as well as two tackles for losses, one forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries.
Waterloo (3-0) at Carleton (1-2)
The skinny: Who would have thought the Ravens would be the ones facing a must-win situation going into this Week 4 matchup? Waterloo is 3-0 for the first time since 2007, while Carleton is in danger of equaling its loss total from 2016 at the midway point of the OUA schedule. In all fairness however, the Warriors’ first three opponents have a combined record of 1-8, while the Ravens’ losses have come against nationally-ranked McMaster and Laurier. Since coming back to U SPORTS football in 2013, Carleton is 3-1 against Waterloo, suffering its lone loss in Year 1... Keep an eye on (Waterloo): Defensive back Tyrell Ford continues to be U SPORTS’ top kick returner with 170.0 yards per game, including 426 yards on punt returns... Keep an eye on (Carleton): In only his third career start, Michael Arruda set a single-game school record last week against Laurier with 441 passing yards, breaking the old mark of 427 set way back in 1968.
McGill (1-1) at Concordia (1-1)
The skinny: So far this fall, McGill has defeated Sherbrooke by two points and was dominated by second-ranked Laval, while Concordia beat Sherbrooke by one point and was dominated by top-ranked Montreal. While it’s still very early in the season, Saturday’s matchup could have major repercussions on the final standings in the RSEQ. The Redmen and Stingers split their head-to-head series in 2016, with the visiting team prevailing on both occasions... Keep an eye on (McGill): Sophomore quarterback Frédéric Paquette-Perrault is quietly averaging over 300 passing yards per game (301.0) despite facing a pair of top-ranked defences in Laval and Sherbrooke... Keep an eye on (Concordia): Andrew Stevens is a perfect 7-of-7 in field goals, including the game-winner on the final play of the contest last week against Sherbrooke.
Guelph (1-2) at Toronto (1-2)
The skinny: It was simply a matter of time for Guelph after a pair of heartbreaking OT losses to nationally-ranked Ottawa and Western to open the season. The Gryphons made Windsor pay for it last week, crushing the Lancers 81-10. Toronto’s lone win of 2017 has also come against Windsor, by a more modest margin of 19-12. Last fall, Guelph beat the Varsity Blues 41-22 in Week 1 of the OUA schedule... Keep an eye on (Guelph): Defensive lineman Alain Cimankinda leads U SPORTS in sacks (6) and tackles for losses (7) after three games... Keep an eye on (Toronto): Defensive back Nick Hallett ranks third in the nation with 25.5 tackles in three outings.