U Sports weekend watch (8): Perfect seasons on the line

The top-ranked Montreal Carabins and No. 2 Calgary Dinos resume their quest of a perfect regular season on Saturday as a full slate of 12 games is on the U SPORTS football program following a reduced schedule on Thanksgiving weekend.

Montreal (4-0) and Calgary (5-0) are two of the three remaining undefeated teams across the country along with the fourth-ranked Western Mustangs (7-0), who enjoy a well-deserved bye this week.

The Week 8 schedule is also highlighted by a top-10 battle between No. 5 Laurier and No. 10 Guelph, Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, live on Rogers TV and OUA.TV.

Here’s a game-by-game look at the Week 8 matchups.

Bye Week

No. 3 Laval (5-1), No. 4 Western (7-0), Mount Allison (2-4).


No. 1 Montreal (4-0) at Sherbrooke (1-5) 

The skinny: Montreal has won the last four head-to-head contests dating back to the 2015 regular season, including a 28-1 decision on home turf in the first meeting of 2017 (Sept. 15). With the cancellation of their game against Concordia last Thursday combined to a bye the previous week, the Carabins haven’t played since a 16-3 win over McGill on Sept. 22. The Montreal defence ranks first in the country in points (9.8) and rushing yards (60.0) allowed per game, while the Sherbrooke offence ranks 24th out of 27 in points scored (14.8) and 26th in total yards (270.3) per contest… Keep an eye on (Montreal): After finishing first in the country a year ago with an average of 42.4 yards per punt, fifth-year senior Félix Ménard-Brière once again leads the way this fall with an eye-popping 45.9 average… Keep an eye on (Sherbrooke): Thanks to 8.5 tackles against Laval last Saturday, defensive back Keith Sanscartier now has a team-leading 35.5 this season. 

Manitoba (1-4) at No. 2 Calgary (5-0) 

The skinny: Calgary crushed Manitoba 76-17 on Sept. 16 and has won four straight against the Bisons since a head-to-head loss in the 2014 Hardy Cup final. With a win on Saturday, the Dinos would secure at least second place in the Canada West standings and home-field advantage in the first round of playoffs, and they would clinch first place with a victory combined to a Regina loss against Alberta. Calgary is the top-scoring team in U SPORTS with 51.8 points per game, while Manitoba has allowed a conference-worst 40.8 points per contest (25th in the country)… Keep an eye on (Calgary): Hunter Karl (104.2) and Michael Klukas (103.8) both average over 100 receiving yards per game… Keep an eye on (Manitoba): Running back Jamel Lyles ranks second in Canada West in all-purpose yards (177.2 per game). 

No. 5 Laurier (5-1) at No. 10 Guelph (3-3) 

The skinny: Thanks to a 27-25 home win last fall, Laurier snapped a four-game losing streak versus Guelph, the program’s longest drought against the Gryphons since a five-game stretch from 1980 to 1984. The Golden Hawks, who host McMaster (5-1) in their regular season finale on Oct. 21, can finish as high as second in Ontario, while the Gryphons are battling for a playoff spot and wrap up league play next week against Carleton (2-4), one of the teams chasing them in the OUA standings. Expect quarterbacks to be under pressure on Saturday as Guelph (21) and Laurier (19) rank second and fourth in the country in sacks, respectively… Keep an eye on (Laurier): Kurleigh Gittens Jr. leads the country with 57 catches and needs 18 over the Hawks’ final two league games to shatter the single-season U SPORTS record of 74 set in 2013 by Waterloo’s Nick Anapolsky… Keep an eye on (Guelph): Fifth-year senior Johnny Augustine is tied for the U SPORTS lead with eight rushing touchdowns and leads all active players with 27 majors on the ground over his career. 

Windsor (0-6) at No. 6 McMaster (5-1) 

The skinny: McMaster has won seven straight against Windsor since a 55-31 conference loss in 2005, including a 44-19 road win in their most recent meeting two years ago. The Marauders lead the country in overall defence (286.5 yards allowed per game) and are second in points against (10.3 per game), while the Lancers – the only winless team in the nation – rank 25th in both points scored (14.3) and yards gained (293.3)… Keep an eye on (McMaster): After being held without a field goal in the Marauders’ first three games, sophomore kicker Adam Preocanin – who a year ago ended up one short of the single-season U SPORTS record with 25 – has hit nine in his last three outings… Keep an eye on (Windsor): Despite the Lancers’ struggles, linebacker Daniel Metcalfe ranks second in the country among eligible players with 8.5 tackles per game. 

No. 7 UBC (3-2) at Saskatchewan (3-3) 

The skinny: UBC won the first head-to-head contest of the fall 31-10 on Sept. 16 in Vancouver. The result marked the start of a three-game losing skid for Saskatchewan, which hasn’t won a game in over a month (43-17 vs. Alberta on Sept. 8). The Thunderbirds’ defence ranks first in Canada West and fifth in the country against the run (110.4 yards per game), while the Huskies’ rushing attack ranks last in the conference and next-to-last in U SPORTS (85.2 yards per game)… Keep an eye on (UBC): Defensive back Tanner Friesen had 10.5 tackles in UBC’s last game against Calgary, a season-high for the T-Birds… Keep an eye on (Saskatchewan): Kyle Siemens (15) and Mitch Hillis (7) are tied for the country’s lead in touchdown passes and TD receptions, respectively. 

No. 8 Regina (3-2) at Alberta (1-4) 

The skinny: Regina escaped with a 28-18 home win in the first head-to-head meeting of 2017 (Sept. 16), a game in which Alberta was flagged a whopping 23 times for 203 yards. Saturday’s duel pits Hec Crighton-winning quarterback Noah Picton and the Rams’ nationally fourth-ranked passing offence (341.2 yards per game) against the Golden Bears’ U SPORTS-worst passing defence (330.0)… Keep an eye on (Regina): Averaging 339.4 passing yards per game so far this fall, Noah Picton would need to average 435 in his next three outings to become the first quarterback in U SPORTS history to post a second 3,000-yard season… Keep an eye on (Alberta): Fifth-year senior Ed Ilnicki leads the nation with 165.8 rushing yards per contest and ranks 18th on the U SPORTS career list with 3,506 yards, 240 shy of the school record set by Dalton Smarsh from 1972 to 1976. 

Bishop’s (1-4) at No. 9 Saint Mary’s (4-1)

The skinny: In the first meeting of the season on Sept. 9, Saint Mary’s took a commanding 23-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 40-21 road victory. The Huskies top the AUS in both points scored (28.8) and allowed (20.2) per game, while the Gaiters rank last in the conference in both categories (22.8 / 32.4)… Keep an eye on (Saint Mary’s): Running back Johnny King ranks second in the country in all-purpose yards per game (192.2)… Keep an eye on (Bishop’s): Wide receiver Nathan Walker is not far behind King in fourth place with 188.0 all-purpose yards per contest. 

Waterloo (4-3) at Ottawa (4-2) 

The skinny: Ottawa has won 11 straight against Waterloo since a forfeit loss in the 1997 Churchill Bowl and is 22-2 all-time in head-to-head competition, the Gee-Gees’ only on-field loss to the Warriors coming way back in 1966 (8-6). Looking for their first post-season berth since 2003, the Warriors have lost three straight following a 4-0 start and have allowed 64 points per game during their losing skid, dropping them to 26th in the nation in points against (42.7 per game). With a win, Waterloo would secure a home playoff date for the first time since 1998… Keep an eye on (Ottawa): With two conference games left in his illustrious career, fifth-year kicker Lewis Ward is tied for second on the U SPORTS all-time list with 84 field goals, seven shy of the national record set by Calgary’s Johnny Mark from 2011 to 2015, and is tied for fifth place in scoring with 392 points, 18 shy of the school mark established by Neil Lumsden from 1972 to 1975… Keep an eye on (Waterloo): Wide receiver Tyler Ternowski leads the country with 146.0 receiving yards per game. 

StFX (3-3) at Acadia (4-2) 

The skinny: Acadia beat StFX 38-24 on Sept. 9 to snap a five-game overall losing streak against the X-Men. Another Axemen win on Saturday would set up a battle for first place in the AUS standings on Oct. 21, when Acadia closes out conference play against Saint Mary’s (4-1). The Axemen defence leads the country with 12 interceptions, while StFX quarterbacks have been intercepted a U SPORTS-worst 12 times… Keep an eye on (Acadia): Teammates Jadin White-Frayne (5) and Garvin Cius (3) rank 1-2 in the nation in interceptions… Keep an eye on (StFX): Receiver Kaion Julien-Grant leads U SPORTS in punt return yards (533) and is tied for first in touchdown catches (7).

Concordia (2-3) at McGill (1-4) 

The skinny: Concordia crushed its crosstown rivals 68-16 on Sept. 16 thanks to six touchdown passes from 2015 conference MVP Trenton Miller, a new single-game school record. On Saturday, the Stingers’ nationally eighth-ranked run defence (116.2 yards per game) faces a Redmen offence that ranks last in the country in rushing yards (47.4) and points scored (10.2) per contest… Keep an eye on (Concordia): Placekicker Andrew Stevens ranks first in the nation among eligible players with a 92.0% success rate on field goal attempts (12-of-13)… Keep an eye on (McGill): Wide receivers Remi Bertellin (133.5), Joshua Lucas (106.0) and Jeremy Sauvageau (102.8) all average over 100 all-purpose yards per game.

Toronto (1-5) at Carleton (2-4)

The skinny: Carleton has won three straight against Toronto – including a resounding 65-7 victory last season – since a 50-10 loss in its return to OUA football in 2013. While the Ravens are still hoping to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year, the Varsity Blues hope to avoid extending their U SPORTS-worst post-season drought to 22 years since an OUAA semifinal appearance in 1995… Keep an eye on (Carleton): Linebacker Leon Cenerini leads the country in solo tackles (47), total tackles (60.5) and tackles per game (10.1)… Keep an eye on (Toronto): Standout defensive back Nick Hallett added a game-high 12 tackles to his season totals last week against McMaster and now ranks fifth in the nation in tackles per contest (7.8).

York (1-5) at Queen’s (2-4)

The skinny: Queen’s is 18-0 all-time versus York, including a 33-32 thriller in their most recent head-to-head meeting two years ago. Hoping to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight campaign, the Gaels have rebounded from an 0-4 start with back-to-back wins, in which they’ve exploded on offence with 122 total points. The Lions haven’t qualified for the post-season since 2004… Keep an eye on (Queen’s): Quarterback Nate Hobbs threw for a combined 865 yards and eight touchdowns in the Gaels two wins against Windsor and Waterloo… Keep an eye on (York): Defensive end Rossini Sandjong-Djabome leads the nation with 10.5 tackles for a loss.

Week 8 schedule

October 14

  • StFX (3-3) at Acadia (4-2), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (AUStv.ca)
  • Waterloo (4-3) at Ottawa (4-2), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (OUA.TV)
  • No. 5 Laurier (5-1) at No. 10 Guelph (3-3), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (Rogers TV & OUA.TV)
  • York (1-5) at Queen’s (2-4), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (CHCH & OUA.TV)
  • Windsor (0-6) at No. 6 McMaster (5-1), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (OUA.TV)
  • Toronto (1-5) at Carleton (2-4), 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (OUA.TV)
  • Bishop’s (1-4) at No. 9 Saint Mary’s (4-1), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 &AUStv.ca)
  • Concordia (2-3) at McGill (1-4), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (StretchTV)
  • No. 1 Montreal (4-0) at Sherbrooke (1-5), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT (TVA Sports)
  • No. 8 Regina (3-2) at Alberta (1-4), 3 p.m. ET/noon PT (Sasktel maxTV, TELUS Optik TV, Bell MTS & CanadaWest.TVCanadaWest.TV)
  • Manitoba (1-4) at No. 2 Calgary (5-0), 3 p.m. ET/noon PT (CanadaWest.TV)
  • No. 7 UBC (3-2) at Saskatchewan (3-3), 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT (Sasktel maxTV, TELUS Optik TV, Bell MTS & CanadaWest.TVCanadaWest.TV)


Source: U Sports

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