Having wrapped up an unblemished regular season for the third straight year, the Western Mustangs top the U SPORTS football national rankings for the sixth consecutive week.
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The two-time reigning OUA champion Mustangs (8-0), who have a bye in the first round of the conference playoffs, received 13 out of a possible 15 first-place votes and 223 points from the Football Reporters of Canada panel in the ninth poll of the campaign, good for 448 total points when combined with statistical calculation by the ELO Rating System.
The remaining first-place nods went to the defending Vanier Cup champion Laval Rouge et Or (6-1), who collected 422 total points to remain at No. 2 after securing first position in the RSEQ standings.
Behind the two leaders, Guelph (6-2 / 339 points) moved up three spots to No. 3, the program’s best national ranking since 1997, when the Gryphons topped back-to-back polls in October (Oct. 6 and 14 polls).
Rounding out the new top 10 are the No. 4 McMaster Marauders (6-2 / 317 / up five positions), No. 5 Acadia Axemen (7-0 / 314 / up two), No. 6 Montreal Carabins (6-2 / 304 / down one), No. 7 Saskatchewan Huskies (4-3 / 298 / down four), No. 8 Calgary Dinos (5-2 / 262 / down four), No. 9 Ottawa Gee-Gees (5-3 / 224 / down one), as well as the No. 10 Manitoba Bisons (4-3 / 189), who return to the U SPORTS elite for the first time since the Sept. 10 poll.
Western and Laval were involved in the two top 10 clashes of the past weekend.
The Mustangs, who had already clinched first place in Ontario for the fifth year in a row, downed Ottawa 32-23 on home turf to extend their remarkable win streaks to 28 straight games overall against OUA opponents dating back to the 2016 Yates Cup final and to 30 straight in regular season action dating back to Week 2 of the same campaign.
Meanwhile at Quebec City, the Rouge et Or avenged their only loss of the season, 23-18 at Montreal in mid-September, with a 16-3 home victory over the Carabins, thanks in large part to seven sacks and three interceptions by their nationally top-ranked defence. Heading into its league finally at Sherbrooke on Saturday (2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, TVA Sports), Laval, which hasn’t lost two games in the same regular schedule since 2002, has already secured its third consecutive first-place finish in the RSEQ, its 14th over the past 15 years.
In the AUS, Acadia, which clinched first place two weeks ago, beat visiting Saint Mary’s 28-18 and is now one win away from the first perfect regular campaign in the conference since 2014, when Mount Allison accomplished the feat.
It was a different story in Canada West, where the top three teams entering the weekend all suffered upset losses.
At Winnipeg, conference leader Calgary dug itself a 33-7 hole by halftime en route to a 43-29 setback against Manitoba. Meanwhile at Vancouver, Saskatchewan allowed 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter on its way to a 38-37 defeat at the hands of 2-5 UBC.
Other Week 9 results from top 10 squads included Guelph 40, Toronto 26 (at Toronto); McMaster 31, Waterloo 14 (at McMaster).
Highlighting the Week 10 schedule are a pair of OUA quarter-final matchups, as well as a race to the finish for first place in Canada West.
The OUA post-season gets under way Saturday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT with Guelph hosting Carleton (4-4) and Ottawa welcoming Waterloo (4-4). Both games are streamed live on OUA TV.
Out West, Calgary and Saskatchewan are the only two teams that can finish on top and both end league play at home on Saturday.
The Huskies face Alberta (4-3) at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT (Canada West TV Presented by Co-op & SaskTel maxTV, TELUS Optik TV, Bell MTS Fibe TV), while the Dinos battle UBC at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT (Canada West TV Presented by Co-op).
For the second straight season, U SPORTS is using the ELO Rating System for the calculation of its weekly national rankings. 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 Football Reporters of Canada panel balloting (each weighted 50%) to produce the final top 10.
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Honourable mentions: Carleton (126), Mount Allison (86), Waterloo (83), Alberta (70), Laurier (70).