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Football Weekend Watch: Conference finals set for Saturday

U SPORTS Staff

Only eight teams are still in contention for the 54th Vanier Cup, presented by Promutuel Insurance, as the U SPORTS football schedule has now reached the conference final stage. 

The reigning national champion and top-ranked Western Mustangs (OUA) are one of three teams vying to repeat as conference champions on Saturday, along with the No. 2 Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ) and No. 3 Calgary Dinos (Canada West).

Meanwhile, new monarchs will be crowned in the AUS as 2017 titlist Acadia fell to StFX in last weekend’s semifinal round.

The winners of Saturday’s confrontations advance to the Mitchell Bowl (CW at OUA) and Uteck Bowl (AUS at RSEQ) on Nov. 17. The U SPORTS season then culminates on Nov. 24 at TELUS-UL Stadium in Quebec City.

Here is a game-by-game look at the conference finals, including all television broadcast and webcast info.

YATES CUP (OUA): No. 5 Guelph (7-3) at No. 1 Western (9-0)

  • 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
  • CHCH & OUA.TV

 

  • Semifinal Result (Guelph): 27-22 vs. Ottawa (away)...
  • Semifinal Result (Western): 39-13 vs. Carleton (home)...

In a Nutshell: Western returns to the Yates Cup for the fourth straight year, all on home turf, including a resounding 75-32 win over Laurier last fall but also back-to-back losses to Laurier in 2016 (43-40) and Guelph in 2015 (23-17)... Looking to win consecutive OUA banners for the first time since 2007 and 2008, the Mustangs have captured a record 31 Yates Cup titles in their storied history... The Gryphons have hoisted the coveted trophy on four occasions, including triumphs in London in 2015 and 1984... Western is currently riding a 21-game overall winning streak since the start of the 2017 campaign (four shy of Laval’s U SPORTS record), while Guelph has won five straight after starting the season 2-3... The two teams haven’t met since Sept. 4 of last year, when the Gryphons gave the Mustangs their stiffest challenge of the 2017 schedule before falling 41-34 in overtime at TD Stadium...

  • 2018 Head-to-Head: None...
  • All-Time Yates Cup Titles: Western (31), Guelph (4)...
  • Head-to-Head Conference Finals (6): All-time series tied 3-3...
  • Head-to-Head Yates Cup Wins (Guelph): 2015 (23-17 away); 1992 (45-10 neutral); 1984 (31-26 away)...
  • Head-to-Head Yates Cup Wins (Western): 2007 (34-21 away); 1986 (49-21 home); 1981 (17-7 home)...

Key Regular Season Stats (Guelph): The Gryphons’ defence ranked second in the country in sacks (23), second in touchdowns scored (4) and third in interceptions (11)...

Key Regular Season Stats (Western): The Mustangs led the country in scoring for the fourth straight year (48.0 points per game) and were the nation’s top rushing team for the second consecutive season (274.6 yards per game)...

Head Coach’s Take (Todd Galloway - Guelph): “We have taken a difficult path to get to the Yates Cup, but I am very proud of the way the guys have battled this year. When our record was 2-3, we took a hard look at ourselves and found a way to come together as a team. Now we are facing a very good Western team that is trying to break a record for consecutive wins on top of their second Yates Cup in a row.  We feel confident in the way we have been playing and feel like we can compete with anyone. We will have to control the tempo of the game and account for the weapons they have on offence.”...

Head Coach’s Take (Greg Marshall - Western): “We are excited to be hosting the Yates Cup. We have been working hard in our preparation for a very good Guelph team. They are very well coached in all three phases and their team has shown great resilience. The Yates Cup is special because it is our conference championship and has so much history and tradition associated with it.”

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LONEY BOWL (AUS): No. 7 StFX (7-2) at No. 9 Saint Mary’s (7-1)

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

 

  • Semifinal Result (StFX): 33-10 vs. Acadia (home)...
  • Semifinal Result (Saint Mary’s): Bye...

In a Nutshell: Saint Mary’s has claimed a record 23 Jewett Trophies over the years but its current seven-year title drought is the school’s longest since an 11-year dry spell from 1975 to 1985... StFX’s back-to-back triumphs in 2015 and 2016 brought its overall total to 13 AUS titles, one less than Acadia, which sits in second place in league history... On Saturday, the Huskies will tie Acadia’s record of 29 appearances in the championship match since the inaugural AUS final was held in 1973 (prior to 1973, the regular season champions were crowned)... Saint Mary’s is 5-0 all-time against StFX in conference finals, all played at Huskies Stadium in Halifax, including three straight head-to-head victories from 2007 to 2009 and back-to-back wins in 2002 and 2003... The Huskies head into Saturday’s duel riding a four-game overall winning streak against the X-Men but all games were decided by a touchdown or less, including 27-24 and 20-13 decisions earlier this fall, a 16-15 thriller in last year’s AUS semifinal and 22-21 in Week 5 of the 2017 schedule... Fifth-year StFX running back Jordan Socholotiuk, the only 1,000-yard rusher in the country during the regular season (1,009), was sensational in last week’s semifinal with 242 yards on the ground, including a 103-yard touchdown three minutes into the contest...

  • 2018 Head-to-Head: Saint Mary’s 20, StFX 13 (Aug. 24 at Saint Mary’s) / Saint Mary’s 27, StFX 24 (Sept. 29 at StFX)...
  • All-Time Conference Titles: Saint Mary’s (23), StFX (13)...
  • Head-to-Head Conference Finals (5): Saint Mary’s leads all-time series 5-0...
  • Head-to-Head Conference Final Wins (StFX): None...
  • Head-to-Head Conference Final Wins (Saint Mary’s): 2009 (31-22 home); 2008 (29-27 home); 2007 (25-24 home); 2003 (36-12 home); 2002 (63-14 home)...

Key Regular Season Stats (StFX): The X-Men’s rushing attack finished second in the AUS and fourth in the nation with 178.4 yards per contest...

Key Regular Season Stats (Saint Mary’s): The Huskies’ defence ranked first in the AUS in points allowed per game (17.6), passing yards allowed per game (172.1) and interceptions (11), placing fifth, third and third in the country, respectively in those categories...

Head Coach’s Take (Gary Waterman - StFX): “After back-to-back AUS championship victories in 2015 and 2016 and falling short in 2017, we are extremely excited to be back playing in the Loney Bowl again. The game itself has a storied history and it is always an honour to earn an opportunity to compete in it. Saint Mary’s finished the regular season as the first-place team, they are an athletic and physical team, and we expect a hard-fought and exciting game.”...

Head Coach’s Take (James Colzie III – Saint Mary’s): “We’re extremely happy to be able to host the Loney Bowl, that’s our reward for finishing first in the AUS during the regular season. In reality, that means absolutely nothing because StFX will come in with two of the top-rated players in U SPORTS on the offensive side of the ball and a defence that has improved every week. When you’re without one of your top players in the biggest game of the year, it will be important for us to win the turnover battle, be extremely effective during any type of sudden change, and win the fourth quarter.”

DUNSMORE CUP (RSEQ): No. 4 Montreal (7-2) at No. 2 Laval (9-0)

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

Semifinal Result (Montreal): 48-2 vs. McGill (home)... Semifinal Result (Laval): 40-0 vs. Sherbrooke (home)... In a Nutshell: Laval extends its U SPORTS record streak with its 16th consecutive conference final appearance, while Montreal’s school record now stands at six straight... This will mark the sixth consecutive Dunsmore Cup meeting between the provincial archrivals, with each of the previous five decided by three points or less... While the Rouge et Or have won a record 14 Dunsmore Cup titles compared to two for the Carabins, both Montreal triumphs came at TELUS-UL Stadium in Quebec City, in 2014 and 2015... Since their second meeting of the 2014 schedule, 12 of the 13 head-to-head duels have been decided by six points or less, including a pair of Laval wins earlier this fall (12-7 in Montreal, 18-15 in OT in Quebec City)... Another defensive battle is expected on Saturday as the RSEQ powerhouses finished 1-2 in the country in points allowed (Montreal first) as well as total, rushing and passing yards allowed (Laval first in all three)... 2018 Head-to-Head: Laval 12, Montreal 7 (Sept. 8 at Montreal) / Laval 18, Montreal 15 OT (Oct. 7 at Laval)... All-Time Dunsmore Cup Titles: Laval (14), Montreal (2)... Head-to-Head Conference Finals (9): Laval leads all-time series 7-2... Head-to-Head Dunsmore Cup Wins (Montreal): 2015 (18-16 away); 2014 (12-9 OT away)... Head-to-Head Dunsmore Cup Wins (Laval): 2017 (25-22 home); 2016 (20-17 away); 2013 (14-11 home); 2011 (30-7 home); 2009 (31-7 home); 2005 (19-13 home); 2004 (30-12 away).  

Key Regular Season Stats (Montreal): The Carabins’ defence led the country and set a single-season RSEQ record with only 46 points allowed in eight games and ranked second in the nation – behind Laval - in total yards (200.8), passing yards (128.5) and rushing yards (72.3) allowed per contest...

Key Regular Season Stats (Laval): The Rouge et Or’s defence ranked first in the country in total yards (192.3), passing yards (123.9) and rushing yards (68.4) allowed per game, while also finishing second – behind Montreal - in points conceded per contest (6.8)...

Head Coach’s Take (Danny Maciocia - Montreal): “I think the Carabins-Rouge et Or duel will be the best game of the weekend across the country. Every time we face each other, something special happens and I don’t see why it would be different this time around. The stakes are high and I’m sure both teams will be ready for an intense game.”...

Head Coach’s Take (Glen Constantin - Laval): “We beat Montreal twice this year, but now we’re back to square one. What we did in the past doesn’t mean anything anymore. From now on, it’s win or go home. It will be a good show for the entire province, as has been the case for the vast majority of our matchups in recent years, which have almost always been decided by less than a touchdown. Once again, I expect small details to make the difference between who wins and who loses on Saturday. It's the pinnacle of amateur football in Quebec. We are definitely motivated to win.”

HARDY CUP (Canada West): No. 6 Saskatchewan (6-3) at No. 3 Calgary (9-0)

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

 

  • Semifinal Result (Saskatchewan): 31-28 OT vs. UBC (away)...
  • Semifinal Result (Calgary): 37-13 vs. Manitoba (home)...

In a Nutshell: Calgary extends a pair of Canada West record streaks with its 11th consecutive Hardy Cup appearance and its ninth straight on home turf... Saskatchewan will play in the conference final for the first time since 2009, when the Dinos scored 10 unanswered points in the final seven minutes of regulation to upset the Huskies 39-38 in Saskatoon... 2009 also marked the last time Saskatchewan had won a playoff game before last week’s overtime thriller at UBC... Saskatchewan currently holds the conference record with 18 Hardy Cup triumphs, a total Calgary will be looking to match on Saturday... The Huskies haven’t added to their trophy collection since 2006, when they were crowned for the third straight year... The two storied programs have battled in four previous Canada West finals with the Dinos prevailing three times, including OT decisions at McMahon Stadium in 1995 and 1988... Since the start of the 2011 season, the Dinos have won 14 out of 15 overall against the Huskies, their lone head-to-head loss over that period being a 38-35 setback on home turf on Oct. 22, 2016...

  • 2018 Head-to-Head: Calgary 37, Saskatchewan 28 (Sept. 14 at Saskatchewan) / Calgary 33, Saskatchewan 13 (Sept. 29 at Calgary)...
  • All-Time Hardy Cup Titles: Saskatchewan (18), Calgary (17)...
  • Head-to-Head Conference Finals (4): Calgary leads all-time series 3-1...
  • Head-to-Head Hardy Cup Wins (Saskatchewan): 1994 (34-17 home)...
  • Head-to-Head Hardy Cup Wins (Calgary): 2009 (39-38 away); 1995 (32-30 OT home); 1988 (46-33 OT home)...

Key Regular Season Stats (Saskatchewan): The Huskies topped Canada West and ranked second in U SPORTS - behind Western - with 26.6 first downs per game...

Key Regular Season Stats (Calgary): Led by Adam Sinagra, who set a single-season U SPORTS record with 3,233 passing yards in eight games, the Dinos averaged 433.1 yards through the air per contest, 71 more than second-best Waterloo...

Head Coach’s Take (Scott Flory - Saskatchewan): “After our bye week we stressed with the team that our senior players have to be our best players and in the last three games they absolutely have been and we need them to continue to be to move forward. Our concern is within these walls, football is a one-game deal and we are bringing everything we’ve got to give them our best shot on Saturday and that’s all I can ask from our guys. I love this team, we’ve got grit and determination and they just don’t quit. Who knows what the weather will present, that will be a key. Other than that, it is eliminating big plays and playing a clean, physical football game.”...

Head Coach’s Take (Wayne Harris Jr. - Calgary): “We're facing an excellent football team in Saskatchewan - they're big and physical and have played us tough in both games we've played. We have enough new players in the lineup - they want to get to the national stage but they've been good at focusing on the week at hand. Saskatchewan are strong in every capacity, they play very disciplined. They don't necessarily do the most complicated things or most complex systems, but they play their systems well. They have some great talent along the lines - might be the biggest O-Line we face all year - and I think (quarterback Kyle) Siemens is the most underrated guy in our conference.”


Vanier_Cup_logo_with_Promutuel.jpg (27 KB)Sportsnet and TVA Sports are once again the official broadcasters of the U SPORTS football semifinals and final in 2018... The Mitchell Bowl (CW at OUA) and Uteck Bowl (AUS at RSEQ) are set for Saturday, Nov. 17, while the Vanier Cup, presented by Promutuel Insurance, follows on Saturday, Nov. 24 at TELUS-UL Stadium in Quebec City... For all the information on the 54th Vanier Cup, presented by Promutuel Insurance (including tickets) click here.

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