The regular season comes to an end this weekend in the OUA, while the battle for playoff positioning will go on for an extra week in U SPORTS football’s three other conferences.
The Week 9 program is highlighted by a trio of exciting top-10 confrontations, including top-ranked Montreal (5-0) at No. 3 Laval (5-1), No. 2 Calgary (6-0) at No. 8 Regina (4-2), and No. 5 McMaster (6-1) at No. 7 Laurier (5-2).
In the AUS conference, first place will be on the line when No. 10 Saint Mary’s (5-1) visits Acadia (5-2).
Here’s a game-by-game look at the Week 9 matchups – all set for Saturday – as well as a detailed schedule, including all television broadcasts and webcasts.
Waterloo (4-4), Concordia (3-3), StFX (3-4).
The skinny: First place in the RSEQ standings will be on the line in Quebec City. The Carabins won the first head-to-head matchup of the season 21-16 on Sept. 9, but due to the cancellation of their Oct. 5 game against Concordia, that five-point cushion won’t be a factor should Montreal and Laval finish conference play with the same number of losses as the final standings will be based on winning percentage. Dating back to their second meeting of the 2014 campaign, all nine contests between the archrivals have been decided by six points or less, including six by a field goal or less. Keep an eye on (Montreal): In his last four games against Laval dating back to the start of the 2016 season, Guillaume Paquet has 30 receptions for 414 yards and three touchdowns... Keep an eye on (Laval): In three career contests against Montreal, Jonathan Breton-Robert has 25 catches for 334 yards and one major.
The skinny: The high-flying Dinos, who lead U SPORTS in scoring with 49.2 points per game, won the first duel 46-26 on Sept. 8 and would secure first place in Canada West with another victory on Saturday. Calgary finished first in the conference standings for five straight years from 2011 to 2015 – including a trio of 8-0 campaigns – before the Rams ended their streak last fall. Calgary (370.3) and Regina (349.3) rank 1-2 in the country this fall in passing yards per game... Keep an eye on (Calgary): Hunter Karl (108.0) and Michael Klukas (104.3) rank fourth and fifth in the nation in receiving yards per contest... Keep an eye on (Regina): Reigning Hec Crighton award winner Noah Picton, who currently leads the country in passing yards per outing (347.7), has reached the 300-yard plateau in 12 straight contests overall since a 282-yard performance against UBC on Sept. 17, 2016.
The skinny: Western has already secured first place in the OUA standings for the third consecutive year, while Ottawa can finish anywhere between third and fifth depending on Saturday’s results across the conference. The Mustangs have won six straight overall against the Gee-Gees - including a 68-17 domination last season - since a 20-19 loss in the nation’s capital on Sept. 6, 2010. The high-scoring Mustangs lead the nation in total yards (595.0) and rushing yards (289.6) per game and rank second in the country with an OUA-leading 46.1 points per contest... Keep an eye on (Western): Sophomore kicker Marc Liegghio has booted at least five field goals in each of his last three outings (16 for 16) giving him 25 this fall, one shy of the single-season U SPORTS record shared by 2017 national leader Gabriel Ferraro of Guelph (one game left), former Guelph standout Daniel Ferraro (2014) and former Calgary all-star Johnny Mark (2015)... Keep an eye on (Ottawa): Heading into the final conference game of his career, Lewis Ward needs four field goals to break the all-time U SPORTS record of 91 set by Calgary’s Johnny Mark (2011-2015) and needs three points to shatter the school mark of 410 set by Neil Lumsden (1972-1975), who currently ranks third on the U SPORTS career list.
The skinny: McMaster would secure second place in the OUA standings with a win on Saturday, or a loss combined to an upset win by Ottawa against Western. Laurier would take second place with a win combined to an Ottawa loss. The Golden Hawks have won two straight against the Marauders, both in playoffs, prevailing 21-19 at home in last year’s OUA semifinals and 29-15 in Hamilton in the 2015 quarter-final round. Saturday’s matchup pits Laurier’s nationally third-ranked offence (38.3 points per game) against a McMaster defence which ranks second in the country in points allowed (10.7 per game), passing yards allowed (181.7 per game) and sacks (23)... Keep an eye on (McMaster): The OUA’s best defensive unit boasts eight players with at least 20 tackles on the season including linebacker Eric Mezzalira, who leads the team with 38.5... Keep an eye on (Laurier): Third-year receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. leads the country in receptions (65) and receiving yards (839). He needs 10 catches in the league finale to break the single-season U SPORTS record of 74 set in 2013 by Waterloo’s Nick Anapolsky, and 78 yards to shatter the school standard of 916 established in 1994 by Stefan Ptaszek.
The skinny: UBC has won five straight overall against Manitoba since the start of the 2015 campaign, including a 32-18 decision in Vancouver earlier this season (Sept. 9). Following Saturday’s matchup, the Thunderbirds end conference play with a key home date with eight-ranked Regina on Oct. 28. Against Manitoba, UBC’s nationally seventh-ranked passing offence (320.0 yards per game) hopes to take advantage of the country’s 24th-ranked passing defence (324.5)... Keep an eye on (UBC): Coming off a 446-yard performance against Saskatchewan, 2015 Vanier Cup MVP Michael O’Connor is only 202 passing yards shy of 7,000 for his career, in only his third U SPORTS season... Keep an eye on (Manitoba): Defensive lineman Brock Gowanlock is tied for the nation’s lead with three forced fumbles.
The skinny: The Gryphons have secured a playoff berth and could finish anywhere from third (with a win over Carleton and losses from Laurier and Ottawa) to sixth (with a loss against Carleton) in the OUA standings. For the Ravens, the scenario is simple: a win and they are in, a loss and their season is over. Guelph is 4-0 overall in head-to-head competition since Carleton returned to U SPORTS football in 2013, including three league wins and an OUA semifinal victory in 2015. Both teams have excelled at rushing quarterbacks this fall as the Ravens lead the country with 28 sacks while the Gryphons rank fourth with 21... Keep an eye on (Guelph): Heading into the Gryphons’ conference finale, Gabriel Ferraro has already tied the single-season U SPORTS record of 26 field goals set in 2014 by older brother Daniel (with Guelph) and tied the following year by Calgary’s Johnny Mark... Keep an eye on (Carleton): After finishing second in the country a year ago with an OUA-leading 66.0 tackles, linebacker Leon Cenerini is tops in the nation so far in 2017 with 63.5 in seven games.
The skinny: With a win on Saturday, the Huskies – who beat their provincial rivals 17-10 in the first meeting of the season on Sept. 15 - would clinch first place in the AUS standings for the first time since 2013 and only the second time since 2010. Should Saint Mary’s and Acadia end league play with identical 6-2 records, the first tie-breaker would be point differential in head-to-head competition, followed by overall point differential. Quarterbacks will have to take care of the ball at Raymond Field as the Huskies (15) and Axemen (12) defences are ranked 1-2 in the country in interceptions... Keep an eye on (Saint Mary’s): Defensive end Jadarius Ceasar tops the AUS and ranks third in the country in tackles for a loss (9.5)... Keep an eye on (Acadia): In his first full season with the Axemen, Dale Wright leads the AUS with 873 rushing yards (third in U SPORTS) and six touchdown runs.
The skinny: Queen’s is riding a 16-game overall winning streak against Toronto – including a 20-5 decision last season – since a 32-10 head-to-head loss back on Oct. 4, 1975. The Gaels, who have racked up three consecutive wins after starting the campaign 0-4, would earn the sixth and final OUA playoff berth with a victory combined to a Carleton loss against Guelph. Queen’s offence is red-hot, having scored a whopping 174 points during its three-game surge, while Toronto is averaging a U SPORTS-low 10.0 points per game... Keep an eye on (Queen’s): Nate Hobbs has thrown four touchdown passes in each of his past three games and now leads the OUA with 16 on the season (tied for second in the country)... Keep an eye on (Toronto): Defensive back Nick Hallett leads the nation with 50 solo tackles.
The skinny: Saskatchewan and Alberta are battling with Manitoba (1-5) for the last playoff berth in Canada West. The Huskies started the season 2-0 under new head coach Scott Flory but have lost four straight since a 43-17 domination of the Golden Bears on Sept. 8. Saskatchewan ranks third in the country in passing offence (337.5 yards per game), while Alberta ranks first in Canada West and second in the nation on the ground (215.7 yards per game)... Keep an eye on (Saskatchewan): With two games left in the Huskies’ regular schedule, Kyle Siemens leads the country with 18 touchdown passes, seven shy of the single-season team record set in 2004 by Steve Bilan (fifth on the U SPORTS all-time list)... Keep an eye on (Alberta): With 3,707 career rushing yards and a U SPORTS-leading 1,030 in six games this fall, fifth-year senior Ed Ilnicki needs 40 yards on the ground to break the Golden Bears career record of 3,746 held by Dalton Smarsh (1972-1976) and 137 to shatter the single-season school mark of 1,166 set in 1987 by Mark Brus.
The skinny: Bishop’s only win so far in its inaugural AUS season came against Mount Allison, a thrilling 32-31 overtime decision on Sept. 15. Time of possession could be a factor on Saturday as the Mounties rank third in the country in that department (32:18 per game) while the Gaiters show the third-worst record in the nation (26:45)... Keep an eye on (Mount Allison): Following a slow start to the season, star running back Chris Reid has come to life in his last three games with 487 rushing yards... Keep an eye on (Bishop’s): Wide receiver Nathan Walker ranks fourth in the country with 188.0 all-purpose yards per game.
The skinny: The two teams are battling for the fourth and final playoff ticket in the RSEQ. The Redmen enter Saturday’s contest with a two-point head-to-head cushion thanks to a 18-16 victory at Sherbrooke on Sept. 9, when Findlay Brown kicked a 15-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in regulation. Another low-scoring affair is expected at Molson Stadium as Sherbrooke (14.9 per game) and McGill (10.2) rank 24th and 26th in the nation in points scored, respectively... Keep an eye on (McGill): Wide receiver Jeremy Sauvageau leads the nation with 22.8 yards per catch... Keep an eye on (Sherbrooke): Keith Sanscartier (42.5) and Alexandre Chevrier (41.0) rank 1-2 in the RSEQ in tackles.
The skinny: This will be the 2017 finale for both teams as they are out of playoff contention. York’s only win so far this season was a 41-16 decision against archrival Toronto in the annual Red & Blue Bowl, on Sept. 23. Windsor hopes to avoid its first winless campaign since 1999, when the Lancers finished 0-8... Keep an eye on (York): Defensive end Rossini Sandjong-Djabome leads U SPORTS with 11.5 tackles for a loss... Keep an eye on (Windsor): Linebacker Daniel Metcalfe ranks second in the country with 59.0 tackles.
Week 9 schedule
- No. 10 Saint Mary’s (5-1) at Acadia (5-2), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 & AUStv.ca)
- No. 9 Guelph (4-3) at Carleton (3-4), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (OUA.TV)
- No. 5 McMaster (6-1) at No. 7 Laurier (5-2), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (Rogers TV & OUA.TV)
- York (1-6) at Windsor (0-7), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (YourTV & OUA.TV)
- Queen’s (3-4) at Toronto (1-6), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (OUA.TV)
- Ottawa (5-2) at No. 4 Western (7-0), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (Rogers TV & OUA.TV)
- Mount Allison (2-4) at Bishop’s (1-5), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (AUStv.ca & GaitersTV)
- No. 1 Montreal (5-0) at No. 3 Laval (5-1), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (TVA Sports)
- Sherbrooke (1-6) at McGill (1-5), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (StretchTV)
- No. 6 UBC (4-2) at Manitoba (1-5), 3 p.m. ET/noon PT (CanadaWest.TV)
- Saskatchewan (2-4) at Alberta (1-5), 3 p.m. ET/noon PT (CanadaWest.TV)
- No. 2 Calgary (6-0) at No. 8 Regina (4-2), 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT (Sasktel maxTV, TELUS Optik TV, Bell MTS & CanadaWest.TV)
VANIER CUP FACT: Only twice in history have two teams had a Vanier Cup rematch in subsequent years:
Sportsnet and TVA Sports are once again the official broadcasters of the U SPORTS football semifinals and final in 2017... The Mitchell Bowl (RSEQ at Canada West) and Uteck Bowl (OUA at AUS) are set for Saturday, Nov. 18, while the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup follows on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. ET at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton... For all the information on the 53rd Vanier Cup (including tickets) visit vaniercup.com.