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Football Weekend Watch: No. 1 Western, No. 3 Calgary look to clinch first place in league standings

U SPORTS Staff

The nationally top-ranked Western Mustangs and No. 3 Calgary Dinos hope to clinch first place in their respective conferences this weekend as U SPORTS football returns to a full slate of games following a reduced Thanksgiving schedule.

Reigning Vanier Cup champion Western (6-0) can secure first place in the OUA for the fourth year in a row Saturday afternoon in the nation’s capital with a victory over Ottawa (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, OUA.TV). Riding a five-game winning streak, the Gee-Gees (5-1) are the only team that can still hope to finish ahead of the Mustangs in Ontario.

In Canada West, Calgary (5-0) can do the same with a win against visiting Manitoba (3-2) on Friday evening (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, CanadaWest.TV). It would mark the seventh regular season title in eight years for the Dinos, who placed second behind Regina in 2016.

Meanwhile, second-ranked Laval (6-0) and No. 6 Saint Mary’s (6-0) have already clinched top spot in the RSEQ and AUS standings, respectively.

Here is a game-by-game look at all Week 8 matchups as well as a detailed schedule, including all television broadcast and webcast info. 

OFF THIS WEEK

StFX (4-2), Queen’s (3-4), Sherbrooke (1-5).

FRIDAY

Manitoba (3-2) at No. 3 Calgary (5-0)

Last week (Manitoba): Bye... Last week (Calgary): Bye... Last head-to-head matchup (Oct. 14, 2017 – regular season at Calgary): Calgary 36, Manitoba 27… In a nutshell: With a win on Friday, the Dinos would clinch first place in Canada West for the second straight season and for the seventh time in eight years... Calgary has won five straight against Manitoba since a 27-15 loss on home turf in the 2014 Hardy Cup final... The Dinos (433.2) and Bisons (349.8) rank first and third in the country, respectively, in passing yards per game... Keep an eye on (Manitoba): With 1,749 passing yards in five games (349.8 avg.), Des Catellier, in his first full campaign as the Bisons’ starting quarterback, is on pace to break the single-season school record of 2,543 set by predecessor Theo Deezar in 2016... Keep an eye on (Calgary): Thanks to his U SPORTS-leading 2,145 passing yards in five contests (429.0 avg.), Adam Sinagra is on pace for a 3,432-yard season, which would surpass the national mark of 3,186 set in 2016 by Regina’s Noah Picton.

Windsor (1-5) at No. 7 Laurier (3-3)

Last week (Windsor): 66-14 road loss vs. Western... Last week (Laurier): 37-31 road win vs. Carleton... Last head-to-head matchup (Oct. 22, 2016 – regular season at Windsor): Laurier 38, Windsor 9… In a nutshell: Laurier won the most recent head-to-head matchup in 2016 but had previously dropped three straight against Windsor from 2013 to 2015, including a pair on home turf... Friday’s duel pits the Golden Hawks’ nationally third-ranked rushing attack (182.5 yards per game) against the Lancers’ 25th-ranked rush defence (189.5)... Keep an eye on (Windsor): Ranked sixth in the country with a team-leading 41.5 tackles, linebacker Daniel Metcalfe is also tied for the U SPORTS lead in forced fumbles (3) and tied for the OUA lead in fumble recoveries (2)... Keep an eye on (Laurier): With six catches last Friday against Carleton, fourth-year senior Kurleigh Gittens Jr. tied the OUA career record of 192 set over five seasons by former Windsor standout Jordan Brescacin (2008-2012) and needs eight more receptions to become the fifth player in U SPORTS history to reach the 200 plateau.

No. 8 Saskatchewan (3-2) at UBC (2-3)

Last week (Saskatchewan): Bye... Last week (UBC): Bye... Last head-to-head matchup (Oct. 14, 2017 – regular season at Saskatchewan): UBC 29, Saskatchewan 25… In a nutshell: After missing the playoffs last fall for the first time since 2001, Saskatchewan can secure a post-season berth with a win on Friday night... The Huskies’ defence ranks first in Canada West and second in the country in interceptions (10), while the Thunderbirds are tied for the U SPORTS lead in fumble recoveries (8)... Keep an eye on (Saskatchewan): Defensive backs Josh Hagerty and Nelson Lokombo lead Canada West with three interceptions apiece... Keep an eye on (UBC): With 145 career receptions, fourth-year senior Trivel Pinto needs one more catch to break a tie with Jordan Grieve (2008-2012) for second place on the all-time UBC list, behind Brad Coutts’ school record of 162 set from 1996 to 2000.

Carleton (4-3) at York (2-4)

Last week (Carleton): 37-31 home loss vs. Laurier... Last week (York): Bye... Last head-to-head matchup (Sept. 24, 2016 – regular season at York): Carleton 50, York 7… In a nutshell: After missing the playoffs last fall for the first time in three years, Carleton can clinch a post-season berth with a win combined with a Guelph loss against Toronto... The Ravens’ defence is tied for the U SPORTS lead with 19 sacks, while Lions’ quarterbacks have thrown a U SPORTS-high 12 interceptions in six games... Keep an eye on (Carleton): Linebacker Jack Cassar leads U SPORTS with 48 solo tackles in seven games... Keep an eye on (York): Fourth-year senior Colton Hunchak, who already holds the school record for career receptions (150), needs four catches to become the first player in York history to reach the 50 mark in a single season.

Alberta (2-3) at Regina (0-5)

  • 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT
  • SaskTel maxTV, TELUS Optik TV, Bell MTS & CanadaWest.TV

Last week (Alberta): Bye... Last week (Regina): Bye... Last head-to-head matchup (Sept. 7, 2018 – regular season at Alberta): Alberta 1, Regina 0 (Regina forfeited 51-13 win)… In a nutshell: Regina saw its record drop to 0-5 after forfeiting three wins - including a 51-13 decision against Alberta in early September - due to the use of an ineligible player... Friday evening’s contest pits the Rams’ nationally fourth-ranked passing attack (344.0 yards per game) against the Golden Bears’ 25th-ranked pass defence (348.4)... Keep an eye on (Alberta): Freshman running back Jonathan Rosery has rushed for over 100 yards in three straight games, including a career-best 150 yards in a 26-21 win over UBC before the conference-wide Thanksgiving break... Keep an eye on (Regina): The new U SPORTS record-holder for career passing yards (11,494), fifth-year quarterback Noah Picton needs six TD passes to break the Canada West mark of 76 and 32 completions to shatter the national standard of 866.

SATURDAY

No. 1 Western (6-0) at No. 5 Ottawa (5-1)

Last week (Western): 66-14 home win vs. Windsor... Last week (Ottawa): 53-21 road win vs. Toronto... Last head-to-head matchup (Oct. 21, 2017 – regular season at Western): Western 63, Ottawa 10… In a nutshell: Western is looking for its fourth straight regular-season title, while Ottawa hopes to finish atop the OUA standings for the first time since 2010... The Mustangs’ offence leads the country in a number of categories, including points (50.8), total yards (579.3) and rushing yards (272.3) per game, while the Gee-Gees’ defence leads the nation in interceptions (13) and ranks fourth in sacks (17)... Keep an eye on (Western): Fourth-year running back Cedric Joseph was named the U SPORTS player of the week on offence after he racked up 355 rushing yards in only two quarters of action last Thursday against Windsor, a new single-game OUA record and the third-best performance in U SPORTS history... Keep an eye on (Ottawa): Freshman Sawyer Buettner, who took over as the Gee-Gees’ starting quarterback in Week 3, has 13 touchdown passes against only one interception in five games, including nine TD strikes in his last two contests.

No. 2 Laval (6-0) at McGill (1-4)

Last week (Laval): 18-15 home win in OT vs. Montreal... Last week (McGill): 14-13 road loss vs. Sherbrooke... Last head-to-head matchup (Sept. 23, 2018 – regular season at Laval): Laval 53, McGill 7… In a nutshell: Laval, which has already secured first place in the RSEQ standings for the 13th time in 14 years, is riding a 27-game overall winning streak against McGill – including 24 in league play – since the end of the 2001 season... The Rouge et Or’s defence leads the country in points (6.8), total yards (204.8), passing yards (126.3) and rushing yards (78.5) allowed per game, while the Redmen’s offence ranks 25th (13.0), 27th (167.6), 26th (127.4) and 27th (40.2) in those same categories... Keep an eye on (Laval): Fourth-year defensive end Mathieu Betts, who leads the country in sacks (9) and tackles for a loss (14), was named the U SPORTS player of the week on defence thanks to his four-sack performance against Montreal, which allowed him to set an RSEQ career record with 35.5... Keep an eye on (McGill): Third-year halfback Benjamin Carré continues to lead the RSEQ conference with four interceptions, good for second place in the nation.

Concordia (2-3) at No. 4 Montreal (4-2)

  • 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT
  • TVA Sports

Last week (Concordia): Bye... Last week (Montreal): 18-15 road loss in OT vs. Laval... Last head-to-head matchup (Sept. 22, 2018 – regular season at Concordia): Montreal 75, Concordia 3… In a nutshell: With a resounding 75-3 triumph last month, Montreal set a program record for most points scored in a single game and extended its winning streak against its cross-town rivals to 11 contests dating back to a 21-14 home loss on Oct. 22, 2010... The Carabins’ defence ranks second in the nation in points (7.7), total yards (220.7), passing yards (138.7) and rushing yards (82.0) allowed per game, while the Stingers counter with the RSEQ’s second-best passing attack (244.6)... Keep an eye on (Concordia): Jarryd Taylor leads the RSEQ with 514 receiving yards in five games, while his 23.4 yards per catch rank first in Quebec and second in the country... Keep an eye on (Montreal): Thanks to his game-high seven catches against Laval last Sunday, fifth-year senior Régis Cibasu now ranks fifth on the RSEQ list and 17th in U SPORTS history with 177 career receptions.

Mount Allison (2-3) at No. 6 Saint Mary’s (6-0)

  • 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
  • Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 & AUStv.ca

Last week (Mount Allison): Bye... Last week (Saint Mary’s): 18-9 home win vs. Bishop’s... Last head-to-head matchup (Sept. 8, 2018 – regular season at Mount Allison): Saint Mary’s 25, Mount Allison 13… In a nutshell: The Huskies, who last Saturday secured first-place in the AUS standings for the first time since 2013, are now looking for their first seven-win season since 2009, when they posted a 7-1 record... Saint Mary’s leads the AUS in passing (253.7 yards per game) and has the third-best pass defence in the country (176.2), while Mount Allison has the best rush defence in the conference (130.2) and ranks fourth in the nation in rushing (181.0)... Keep an eye on (Mount Allison): Fifth-year running back Kiel Ambursley leads the country with 192.0 all-purpose yards per game... Keep an eye on (Saint Mary’s): Fifth-year linebacker Brad Herbst continues to lead the AUS conference in solo (32), assisted (32) and total tackles (48).

No. 9 McMaster (4-2) at Waterloo (3-3)

Last week (McMaster): 27-24 home win vs. Queen’s... Last week (Waterloo): Bye... Last head-to-head matchup (Sept. 17, 2016 – regular season at Waterloo): McMaster 35, Waterloo 0… In a nutshell: The Marauders, who can clinch a playoff berth with a win on Saturday, are riding a seven-game winning streak against the Warriors since a 30-17 loss on Sept. 6, 2008... McMaster’s solid defence, which ranks sixth in the country in points allowed (20.7 per game) and ninth against the pass (244.7) will try to contend Waterloo’s high-flying passing attack, which leads the OUA and ranks second in the nation with 362.8 yards per contest... Keep an eye on (McMaster): Since taking over as the Marauders’ starting quarterback, Andreas Dueck has thrown for over 350 yards in two of three games, including 372 yards against Toronto three weeks ago and 358 against Queen’s last Friday... Keep an eye on (Waterloo): Reigning U SPORTS rookie of the year Tre Ford continues to lead the country with 19 TD passes, including 10 to Tyler Ternowski, who leads the nation in TD catches and receiving yards (898).

Toronto (0-6) at No. 10 Guelph (3-3)

  • 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
  • Rogers TV – tape delay & OUA.TV

Last week (Toronto): 53-21 home loss vs. Ottawa... Last week (Guelph): Bye... Last head-to-head matchup (Sept. 16, 2017 – regular season at Toronto): Guelph 43, Toronto 6… In a nutshell: The Gryphons have won five straight against the Varsity Blues since a 21-12 loss at Toronto on Sept. 17, 2011... The stingy Guelph defence, which ranks second in the OUA in points allowed per game (20.5) and is also second in the conference in interceptions (9) and third in sacks (17), goes up against the OUA’s lowest-scoring offence (16.5)... Keep an eye on (Toronto): Third-year defensive lineman Malcolm Campbell leads the OUA and ranks second in U SPORTS with 11 tackles for a loss... Keep an eye on (Guelph): With two regular-season games remaining in his illustrious career, fifth-year kicker Gabriel Ferraro ranks fifth on the all-time national list with 81 field goals, 10 off the U SPORTS record and eight shy of the OUA mark.

Bishop’s (0-6) at Acadia (2-3)

Last week (Bishop’s): 18-9 road loss vs. Saint Mary’s... Last week (Acadia): 33-30 home loss vs. StFX... Last head-to-head matchup (Sept. 8, 2018 – regular season at Bishop’s): Acadia 39, Bishop’s 9… In a nutshell: Acadia is 3-0 against Bishop’s since the Gaiters joined the AUS as the Axemen had also prevailed 27-10 and 27-24 last fall in head-to-head competition... While Acadia is battling for playoff positioning with StFX (4-2) and Mount Allison (2-3), Bishop’s is looking to halt an 11-game losing skid dating back to its lone win of 2017... Keep an eye on (Bishop’s): Third-year linebacker Keagan Hughes was a bright spot last Saturday against Saint Mary’s with a game-high eight tackles and one sack... Keep an eye on (Acadia): Thanks to a 147-yard effort last Friday against StFX, reigning AUS MVP Dale Wright averages exactly 100 rushing yards per game after five contests.

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Credit: Renaud St-Laurent - Carabins