Mac comes in sixth in first CIS rankings


Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson Aerial Promotions

Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson Aerial Promotions

For the seventh time in nine years, the Laval Rouge et Or top the first national ranking of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport football season with the McMaster Marauders coming in sixth.

The Rouge et Or, who last fall captured a record-setting seventh Vanier Cup title in only their 17th CIS campaign, received all 20 first-place votes and 200 points from the Football Reporters of Canada panel in the inaugural weekly poll of 2013.

Following in order are the No. 2 Queen’s Gaels (141 points), No. 3 Calgary Dinos (137), No. 4 Western Mustangs (129), No. 5 Montreal Carabins (123), No. 6 McMaster (122), No. 7 Guelph Gryphons (75), No. 8 Sherbrooke Vert & Or (59), No. 9 Saskatchewan Huskies (57) and No. 10 Manitoba Bisons (36).

Top-ranked Laval, which returns a whopping 11 starters on offence from the squad that dominated McMaster 37-14 in last year’s national final, was impressive last Saturday in a pre-season test against Calgary, defeating the five-time defending Canada West champions 32-3 in front of over 11,000 fans in Quebec City.

The Rouge et Or remain on home turf this Saturday to open their RSEQ schedule against McGill.

While teams from the three other conferences were still in preparation mode, league action kicked off on Sunday in Ontario University Athletics with No. 2 Queen’s (52-1 vs. York), No. 4 Western (50-14 vs. Toronto), No. 6 McMaster (51-24 vs. Ottawa) and No. 7 Guelph (21-7 vs. Laurier) all starting the new campaign on the right foot.

Five more OUA matchups are scheduled on Labour Day Monday, highlighted by a McMaster-Queen’s duel in Kingston. Western and Guelph are at home versus newcomer Carleton (0-0) and Windsor (1-0), respectively.

In Quebec, in addition to the McGill-Laval tilt, No. 5 Montreal opens at Concordia on Saturday, while No. 8 Sherbrooke visits Bishop’s on Sunday.

Out West, No. 9 Saskatchewan and No. 10 Manitoba both kick things off at home on Friday night, against Regina and Alberta, while No. 3 Calgary visits UBC on Saturday.

The AUS regular schedule starts on Sept. 6.

A grand total of 124 games will be played across the country over a three-month period, culminating with the TELUS Vanier Cup on Nov. 23 at TELUS-Université Laval Stadium in Quebec City. This year’s national semifinals – both set for Nov. 16 – will see the RSEQ and AUS champions battle in the Maritimes (Uteck Bowl), while the OUA champs visit the Canada West titlists (Mitchell Bowl).

NOTES: No. 1 Laval has won a CIS-record 10 straight conference titles (RSEQ)… No. 3 Calgary has claimed a record five consecutive Canada West banners… Friday night’s Alberta-Manitoba game will be the Bisons’ first at new Investors Group Field and the first-ever contest under the lights on the U of M campus… Team previews of all 27 CIS football programs as well as profiles of 27 star players are available on the CIS website at cis-sic.ca… All the information on the TELUS Vanier Cup (including ticket info) can be found at vaniercup.com.

Other teams receiving votes in this week’s rankings were: Acadia (11), Regina (9), Saint Mary’s (2), Bishop’s (2), Windsor (1).

No. 1 Laval: Last season: 8-1 regular season (1st RSEQ) / 4-0 playoffs (Vanier Cup champions)… 2013 pre-season (Aug. 24): 32-3 home win vs. Calgary… 2013 regular season opener: Host McGill (0-0) Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (live webcast).

No. 2 Queen’s: Last season: 6-2 regular season (3rd OUA) / 1-1 playoffs (OUA semi-finalists)… 2013 pre-season: No game… 2013 regular season opener (Aug. 25): 52-1 road win vs. York… Next up: Host McMaster (1-0) Monday at 1 p.m. ET (live webcast).

No. 3 Calgary: Last season: 7-1 regular season (1st CW) / 2-1 playoffs (Canada West champions)… 2013 pre-season (Aug. 24): 32-3 road loss vs. Laval… 2013 regular season opener: Visit UBC (0-0) Saturday at 2 p.m. PT (live webcast).

No. 4 Western: Last season: 5-3 regular season (4th OUA) / 1-1 playoffs (OUA semi-finalists)… 2013 pre-season: No game… 2013 regular season opener (Aug. 25): 50-14 road win vs. Toronto… Next up: Host Carleton (0-0) Monday at 1 p.m. ET (Rogers TV London & live webcast).

No. 5 Montreal: Last season: 8-1 regular season (2nd RSEQ) / 0-1 playoffs (RSEQ semi-finalists)… 2013 pre-season (Aug. 23): 40-12 home win vs. McGill… 2013 regular season opener: Visit Concordia (0-0) Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (Radio-Canada & live webcast).

No. 6 McMaster: Last season: 8-0 regular season (1st OUA) / 3-1 playoffs (OUA champions & Vanier Cup finalists)… 2013 pre-season: No game… 2013 regular season opener (Aug. 25): 51-24 home win vs. Ottawa… Next up: Visit Queen’s (1-0) Monday at 1 p.m. ET (live webcast).

No. 7 Guelph: Last season: 7-1 regular season (2nd OUA) / 1-1 playoffs (OUA finalists)… 2013 pre-season: No game… 2013 regular season opener (Aug. 25): 21-7 home win vs. Laurier… Next up: Host Windsor (1-0) Monday at 1 p.m. ET (live webcast).

No. 8 Sherbrooke: Last season: 6-3 regular season (3rd RSEQ) / 1-1 playoffs (RSEQ finalists)… 2013 pre-season (Aug. 23): 35-3 home win vs. Carleton… 2013 regular season opener: Visit Bishop’s (0-0) Sunday at 2 p.m. ET (live webcast).

No. 9 Saskatchewan: Last season: 5-3 regular season (3rd CW) / 0-1 playoffs (CW semi-finalists)… 2013 pre-season (Aug. 23): 28-5 home win vs. UBC… 2013 regular season opener: Host Regina (0-0) Friday at 7 p.m. CT (Shaw TV & live webcast).

No. 10 Manitoba: Last season: 4-4 regular season (4th CW) / 0-1 playoffs (CW semi-finalists)… 2013 pre-season (Aug. 23): 30-25 road loss vs. Regina… 2013 regular season opener: Host Alberta (0-0) Friday at 7 p.m. CT.