No. 1 Marauders stays king of the hill

Kyle Quinlan capped the 2012 season by breaking McMaster’s all-time passing touchdown mark. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson, Aerial Promotions)

The reigning Vanier Cup champion McMaster Marauders top the Football Reporters of Canada/CIS rankings for the ninth time in as many polls this season, a few days after wrapping up conference play with a perfect 8-0 record for the first time since 2003.

After receiving 29 first-place votes from the 30-member FRC panel in each of the last five polls, the Marauders were a unanimous No. 1 selection this week, thanks in part to the Calgary Dinos’ first loss of the campaign. Calgary (6-1) drops to No. 3 in the new Top 10 behind the Laval Rouge et Or (7-1), who climb back to No. 2 for the first time since the Sept. 4 rankings (poll No. 2).

The Montreal Carabins (7-1) remain in fourth place, only one point back of Calgary in the voting (225 vs. 224). The No. 5 Guelph Gryphons (7-1) and No. 6 Queen’s Gaels (6-2) also stay put.

The Regina Rams (5-2) and Western Mustangs (5-3) swap positions at No. 7 and No. 8, while the Acadia Axemen (6-1) and Manitoba Bisons (4-3) hold on to the ninth and tenth spots, respectively.

Top-ranked McMaster, the only remaining undefeated team in the country, crushed visiting Laurier (3-5), 43-0, in its regular season finale on Saturday (Oct. 20) to extend its overall winning streak to 18 straight games dating back to Week 3 of the 2011 schedule, one shy of the all-time CIS mark set by Laval from 2004 to 2005. The defending national champs, who have a bye this week in the first round of the OUA playoffs, will get a chance to tie the prestigious record on Nov. 3 when they host a conference semifinal.

No. 2 Laval dominated Bishop’s (3-5), 57-7, Sunday in Quebec City to claim its 55th consecutive victory on home turf since 2004, also a CIS mark. Last year’s CIS finalists can clinch first place in the RSEQ standings with a win at Concordia (1-7) on Saturday.

The No. 3 Dinos saw their hopes of a perfect conference season go up in smoke Friday night when they fell, 12-9, at Regina. Despite the loss, Calgary secured first place in Canada West thanks to a positive head-to-head point differential in two contests against the Rams this fall. The reigning four-time CWUAA champions close out league play on Saturday with a home title versus No. 10 Manitoba.

All other Top-10 teams were victorious this past weekend, including No. 4 Montreal, 44-0, vs. McGill (2-6); No. 5 Guelph, 39-18, vs. York (2-6); No. 6 Queen’s, 35-7, vs. Toronto (2-6); No. 7 Regina defeating Calgary; No. 8 Western, 32-29, vs. Ottawa (2-6); No. 9 Acadia, 12-5, vs. Saint Mary’s (2-5); No. 10 Manitoba, 37-31, vs. UBC (2-5).

The OUA playoffs get under way on Saturday with a pair of quarter-final matchups that will see Queen’s host Laurier (3-5) in Kingston, and Western welcome Windsor (3-5) in London.

Fifth-ranked Guelph is the second OUA team that earned a bye in the first round of the post-season. The Gryphons’ 7-1 conference record – including seven straight wins to close out the schedule – is the best in program history.

Oct. 26
19:00 Alberta (0-7) at No. 7 Regina (5-2), Access7 Regina (TV) & (web)
19:00 UBC (2-5) at Saskatchewan (4-3), Shaw (TV)

Oct. 27
13:00 OUA quarter-final: Windsor (3-5) at No. 8 Western (5-3), theScore (TV & web)
13:00 OUA quarter-final: Laurier (3-5) at No. 6 Queen’s (6-2), Cogeco (TV – tape delayed)
13:00 No. 2 Laval (7-1) at Concordia (1-7), (web)
13:00 No. 4 Montreal (7-1) at Bishop’s (3-5), Radio-Canada (TV & web) & (web)
13:00 McGill (2-6) at Sherbrooke (5-3)
14:00 No. 9 Acadia (6-1) at Mount Allison (3-4), (web)
14:00 StFX (2-5) at Saint Mary’s (2-5), Eastlink (TV & web) & Bell Aliant (web)
17:00 No. 10 Manitoba (4-3) at No. 3 Calgary (6-1), (web)