U Sports weekend watch (10): OUA enter playoffs, regular season comes to an end

Week 10 of the U SPORTS football season marks the start of the playoffs in Ontario and the end of league play in the three other conferences.

The OUA post-season kicks off on Saturday afternoon with quarter-final action from Hamilton, where nationally seventh-ranked McMaster hosts Queen’s, and from the nation’s capital, where No. 9 Guelph visits Ottawa. Both matchups are set for 1 p.m. and can be seen live on OUA.TV.

In Quebec, the only conference where first place has yet to be decided, No. 2 Laval would get the nod with a win at Concordia on Friday evening (7 p.m., StretchTV webcast). Montreal, which faces McGill at 2 p.m. on Saturday (TVA Sports), can still finish atop the standings with a victory combined to a Rouge et Or loss.

Here is a game-by-game look at all Week 10 matchups as well as a detailed schedule, including all television broadcasts and webcasts.

Off This Week

Bye: No. 3 Western (8-0), No. 5 Laurier (6-2), No. 10 Acadia (6-2), Sherbrooke (2-6).

Out of OUA playoffs: Waterloo (4-4), Carleton (3-5), Toronto (1-7), Windsor (1-7), York (1-7).

FRIDAY (regular season)

No. 2 Laval (6-1) at Concordia (3-3)

The skinny: With a win on Friday night, Laval would secure first place in the RSEQ standings for the 12th time in 13 seasons, after settling for second place behind Montreal a year ago. The Rouge et Or, who would also finish first with a loss to the Stingers combined to a McGill win over Montreal, have not lost two games in the same regular season since 2002. The reigning Vanier Cup champions are riding a 28-game overall winning streak against Concordia since 2003 – including 18-0 in conference play – but that sequence almost came to an end on Sept. 24 in Quebec City, when Laval escaped with a narrow 12-8 victory on home turf… Keep an eye on (Laval): Defensive back Gabriel Ouellet was named the national defensive player of the week after he became the 10th player in U SPORTS history to record four interceptions in a single game, last Saturday against Montreal… Keep an eye on (Concordia): Jean-Guy Rimpel leads the RSEQ in rushing yards (571) and touchdown runs (6 – tied) despite his team playing only six games so far this fall.

SATURDAY (regular season)

Alberta (2-5) at No. 1 Calgary (7-0)

The skinny: Calgary has already secured first place in the Canada West standings for the sixth time in seven years – after settling for second behind Regina last season – while Alberta is battling with Saskatchewan (2-5) for the conference’s final playoff spot. The Dinos, the highest-scoring team in Canada West and the second most productive in U SPORTS this season (48.1 points per game), have scored over 50 points in each of their last 10 meetings with the Golden Bears, including a 55-26 road win to open the 2017 campaign on Sept. 1. Overall, Calgary hasn’t lost on the field in 16 straight against its provincial rival dating back to 2008 (the Dinos forfeited a 71-3 win in 2014)… Keep an eye on (Calgary): Wide receiver Hunter Karl leads Canada West with 50 receptions in seven games (second in U SPORTS), nine shy of the single-season school record and six shy of second place in team history… Keep an eye on (Alberta): Heading into the final regular season game of his career, fifth-year running back Ed Ilnicki leads the country with 1,309 rushing yards – a new single-season school standard – and 11 touchdown runs, two shy of the team record. He needs 14 rushing yards on Saturday to become the 10th player in U SPORTS history to reach the 4,000 plateau over his career.

McGill (1-6) at No. 4 Montreal (5-1)

The skinny: Coming off its first loss of the season last Saturday against Laval, Montreal has secured at least second place in the RSEQ standings and could still finish first with a win over McGill combined with a Rouge et Or loss at Concordia. For their part, the Redmen were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend following a home loss at the hands of Sherbrooke. Thanks to a 16-3 victory at McGill on Sept. 24, the Carabins extended their overall winning streak against their crosstown rivals to 21 games dating back to a pair of shutout losses in 2002, when the U of M returned to university football after a three-decade hiatus… Keep an eye on (Montreal): After finishing first the country a year ago with an average of 42.4 yards per punt, fifth-year senior Félix Ménard-Brière is currently tied for the nation’s lead with Toronto’s TJ Morton, who wrapped up conference play last Saturday with a 45.1 average… Keep an eye on (McGill): With 689 receiving yards on 30 catches, wideout Jeremy Sauvageau leads the nation in yards per reception (23.0).

No. 8 Regina (4-3) at No. 6 UBC (5-2)

The skinny: Second place in the Canada West standings will be on the line in Vancouver, with the winners set to host a rematch the following week in conference semifinal action. A year ago, fourth-place UBC upset first-place Regina 40-34 in the Canada West semis. The Rams got a mesure of revenge in their 2017 opener, when they defeated the Thunderbirds 36-20 on home turf. UBC is 5-1 since that Week 1 loss however, while Regina has settled for a .500 mark over its last six games… Keep an eye on (UBC): Wide receiver Trivel Pinto needs three receptions on Saturday to become only the second player in school history with 50 catches in a single season. He would join Andrew English, who caught 56 balls in 1994 and 54 the following year… Keep an eye on (Regina): With one reception and two touchdown catches against UBC, fifth-year senior Mitchell Picton would become the first player in U SPORTS history to record two seasons with at least 50 receptions and 10 TD catches (he had 58 and 11 in 2016).

Mount Allison (3-4) at Saint Mary’s (5-2)

The skinny: Saint Mary’s has secured second place in the AUS standings and home-field advantage for the conference semifinal on Nov. 4, while Mount Allison is battling with StFX (3-4) for the third and final AUS post-season berth. Should the Mounties and StFX end up with identical records, the X-Men would get the edge based on point differential in head-to-head competition. Their first game of the season against Saint Mary’s, at home on Sept. 23, could come back to haunt the Mounties, who saw the Huskies score 10 unanswered points in the final two minutes of regulation to steal a 27-26 victory… Keep an eye on (Saint Mary’s): Linebacker Brad Herbst leads the AUS and is tied for fourth in the country in tackles per game (7.5)… Keep an eye on (Mount Allison): Defensive back Devante Sampson leads the country in pass breakups (10).

Bishop’s (1-6) at StFX (3-4)

The skinny: Reigning two-time conference champion StFX can clinch third place in the standings and earn the final AUS playoff ticket with a win, while Bishop’s is already out of post-season contention in its first campaign in the Maritimes. The X-Men would also move on with a loss combined to a Saint Mary’s win over Mount Allison. StFX beat Bishop’s 37-27 on Sept. 23 but has since lost three straight, while the Gaiters are in the midst of a four-game losing streak… Keep an eye on (StFX): No less than four X-Men have recorded at least 40 tackles so far this season, including team leader Nathaniel Fermin with 47… Keep an eye on (Bishop’s): Wide receiver Nathan Walker leads the AUS and ranks third in the nations in all-purpose yards per game (187.1).

Manitoba (1-6) at Saskatchewan (2-5)

The skinny: Despite a five-game losing streak, Saskatchewan is still in position to claim the fourth and final playoff berth in Canada West. Manitoba, meanwhile, will miss out on the post-season for the second straight year, a first for the program since a four-year drought from 2008 to 2011. The Huskies and Bisons met in their 2017 opener on Sept. 1 in Winnipeg, when Saskatchewan scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to turn a narrow 27-23 lead into a comfortable 44-23 victory… Keep an eye on (Saskatchewan): Going into the final conference game of his career, fifth-year senior Mitch Hillis ranks 10th in U SPORTS history in receptions (185), 15th in receiving yards (2,742) and 12th in TD catches (23)… Keep an eye on (Manitoba): Running back Jamel Lyles is the only Canada West player – and one of three across the country – with at least 100 yards rushing (522), receiving (169), on punt returns (149) and on kickoff returns (273).

SATURDAY (OUA quarter-finals)

Queen’s (4-4) at No. 7 McMaster (6-2)

The skinny: McMaster is making its 20th straight playoff appearance, while Queen’s returns following a one-year absence after turning an 0-4 start into a 4-4 campaign. The old rivals have not met in the post-season since a streak of three straight matchups from 2009 to 2011, which included a 32-6 Gaels win in 2009 in Kingston (semifinal) as well as home victories for the Marauders each of the next two years, 40-19 (quarter-final) and 40-13 (semifinal). Saturday’s contest will mark the first head-to-head confrontation since a 36-6 McMaster win in Hamilton on Oct. 7 of last year… Keep an eye on (McMaster): Freshman Jackson White, who took over as the Marauders’ starting quarterback in Week 3, finished league play with the best completion percentage in the conference among eligible pivots (65.6)… Keep an eye on (Queen’s): Nate Hobbs, who finished the regular season with a U SPORTS-leading 21 touchdown passes, has thrown at least four TD strikes in each of the Gaels’ four consecutive wins and has averaged 416 yards per game over that stretch.

No. 9 Guelph (5-3) at Ottawa (5-3)

The skinny: Ottawa and Guelph both saw their season come to an end in the OUA quarter-finals a year ago, when the Gee-Gees were dominated 45-9 by Carleton and the Gryphons dropped a 17-11 heartbreaker to McMaster. Ottawa earned home-field advantage for Saturday’s contest thanks to a thrilling 24-21 season-opening win in overtime at Guelph back on Aug. 27. The Gee-Gees are 4-0 all-time against the Gryphons in the playoffs, including a 42-37 OUA quarter-final win in the most recent post-season duel in 2008… Keep an eye on (Guelph): Thanks to a remarkable 7-of-7 performance last Saturday in the Gryphons’ league finale, fourth-year kicker Gabriel Ferraro set a single-season U SPORTS mark with 33 field goals – seven more than the previous national standard – and also established school records for most field goals in a game and most points in a season (122)… Keep an eye on (Ottawa): Fifth-year senior Lewis Ward wrapped up his regular season career in second place on the all-time U SPORTS list with 89 field goals and in third position with 412 points.

WEEK 10 SCHEDULE

October 27 (regular season)

  • No. 2 Laval (6-1) at Concordia (3-3), 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT (StretchTV)

 

October 28 (regular season)

  • Mount Allison (3-4) at Saint Mary’s (5-2), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (AUStv.ca)
  • Bishop’s (1-6) at StFX (3-4), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 &AUStv.ca)
  • McGill (1-6) at No. 4 Montreal (5-1), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (TVA Sports)
  • Alberta (2-5) at No. 1 Calgary (7-0), 3 p.m. ET/noon PT (CanadaWest.TV)
  • No. 8 Regina (4-3) at No. 6 UBC (5-2), 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT (CanadaWest.TV)
  • Manitoba (1-6) at Saskatchewan (2-5), 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT (Sasktel maxTV, TELUS Optik TV, Bell MTS & CanadaWest.TV)

 

October 28 (OUA quarter-finals)

  • Queen’s (4-4) at No. 7 McMaster (6-2), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (OUA.TV)
  • No. 9 Guelph (5-3) at Ottawa (5-3), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (OUA.TV)

 

Source: U Sports

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