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Football Top 10: Reigning Vanier Cup champ Western tops final rankings of 2018

U SPORTS Staff

For the first time since 2013, the Western Mustangs top the final national rankings of the U SPORTS football season.

Seeded No. 1 since the first poll of the campaign back on Aug 28, the reigning Vanier Cup champions are the first team to go wire-to-wire since Laval in 2014. In the final weekly voting of 2018, the Mustangs (9-0) received 112 points from the Football Reporters of Canada panel and an additional 120 from the ELO Rating System, for a combined total of 232.

The 2017 Vanier Cup finalist Laval Rouge et Or (9-0 / 220 points) follow in second place for the 11th straight Tuesday, the Calgary Dinos (9-0 / 196) are third for the ninth week in a row, while the Montreal Carabins (7-2 / 168) are fourth for the eighth consecutive poll.

Rounding out the final top 10 of the fall are the No. 5 Guelph Gryphons (7-3 / 135 / up one position), No. 6 Saskatchewan Huskies (6-3 / 111 / up one), No. 7 St. Francis Xavier X-Men (7-2 / 75 / unranked last week), No. 8 Ottawa Gee-Gees (6-3 / 65 / down three), No. 9 Saint Mary’s Huskies (7-1 / 50 / unranked last week) and No. 10 Carleton Ravens (6-4 / 39 / down two).

For the 10th straight week, Western (7), Laval (4) and Calgary (1) were the only teams to merit first-place votes from the FRC panel.

Logic was respected for the “Big Four” in last Saturday’s conference semifinals as Western (39-13 over Carleton), Laval (40-0 over Sherbrooke), Calgary (37-13 over Manitoba) and Montreal (48-2 over McGill) were all easy winners in their 2018 playoff debut.

StFX, which cracks the national top 10 for the first time this season, also advanced comfortably thanks to a 33-10 domination of Acadia in AUS action.

Meanwhile, Guelph and Saskatchewan produced the only upsets of the semifinal round, both in thrilling fashion.

In the nation’s capital, the Gryphons scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to stun the higher-seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees 27-22. Guelph quarterback Theo Landers had more rushing than passing yards in the game (134 to 128) but it was his perfect 59-yard TD strike to Thomas Bresciani with 48 seconds remaining that proved the difference.

At Vancouver, fifth-year pivot Kyle Siemens found Jesse Kuntz in the end zone with 21 seconds left in regulation and fellow fifth-year senior Sean Stenger kicked a 38-yard field goal in overtime as the Huskies overcame a late 28-21 deficit to edge UBC 31-28. It marked Saskatchewan’s first playoff victory since 2009, a year after the storied program had missed the post-season for the first time since 2001.

All four conference finals are now set for Saturday.

In the OUA, top-ranked Western hopes to repeat as Yates Cup champion for the first time since 2008, while Guelph aims to recreate some of the magic from 2015, when the Gryphons upset the Mustangs in the championship match at TD Stadium. Kickoff in London is slated for 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, live on CHCH and OUA.TV.

In the AUS, Saint Mary’s is looking for its first league title since 2010, while visiting StFX claimed back-to-back crowns as recently as 2015 and 2016. Coming off a bye in the opening round of the playoffs, the first-place Huskies should be well rested for the Loney Bowl, which gets underway at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT at Huskies Stadium in Halifax, live on Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 and AUStv.ca.

In the RSEQ, Laval and Montreal are set to battle for the Dunsmore Cup for the sixth year in a row, with each of the previous five duels having been decided by three points or less. The much-anticipated clash between the perennial powerhouses starts at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT at TELUS-UL Stadium in Quebec City, live on TVA Sports.

Last but not least, the Canada West title match will be held at McMahon Stadium in Calgary for the ninth consecutive season but for the first time since 2014, UBC won’t occupy the visitors’ locker room. Saskatchewan’s quest to dethrone the Hardy Cup champion Dinos begins at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT, live on SaskTel maxTV, TELUS Optik TV, Bell MTS and CanadaWest.TV.

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 football season then culminates with the 54th Vanier Cup, presented by Promutuel Insurance, on Nov. 24 at TELUS-UL Stadium in Quebec City.

FRC – U SPORTS FOOTBALL TOP 10 (#11)

New this season, U SPORTS is implementing the ELO Rating System for the calculation of its weekly national rankings, in conjunction with its regular Football Reporters of Canada panel. 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 media panel balloting (each weighted 50%) to produce the final top 10. For more information, click here.

Rank School Season  Playoff Media  ELO Points Total Points Previous
1 Western  8-0 1-0 112 (7) 120 232 1
2 Laval 8-0 1-0 112 (4) 108 220 2
3 Calgary 8-0 1-0 100 (1) 96 196 3
4 Montréal 6-2 1-0 84 84 168 4
5 Guelph 5-3 2-0 63 72 135 6
6 Saskatchewan 5-3 1-0 63 48 111 7
7 StFX 6-2 1-0 15 60 75 NR
8 Ottawa 6-2 0-1 29 36 65 5
9 Saint Mary’s 7-1 0-0 38 12 50 NR
10 Carleton 5-3 01-Jan 15 24 39 8
Honourable Mention: UBC (24), Acadia (1), Manitoba (1)

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(Credit: Jojo Yanjiao Qian / York Lions)