CIS Football Report (Week 8)

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They are one of the oldest football teams in all of North America as the Toronto Varsity Blues pre-date the CFL and the NFL.

Formed in 1877 they are one of the oldest teams in North America with only the Toronto Argonauts, who were formed in 1873, predating them.

It is a program that has played for the oldest trophies in sports including the Grey Cup, of which they have won four, and the Yates Cup, of which they have won 25.

In Canadian University football they could be considered the most successful team in history.

Yet when you think of the Varsity Blues currently you think of the consistent underperformance of a program that has become a punchline for many.

Their best years were at the start of the sport in Canada when they were consistently in the mix for the title, whatever that trophy was at the time.

It hasn’t been as long as some would think since they won something as the 1993 version of the team won the Yates Cup as the OUA champion and that same year took the Vanier Cup, one of two that they have won, as the best team in the country.

Since that great year it has not been the same though as the Blues have been struggling to be known as a great team.

Year after year the recruiting classes were not up to giving them the performances they needed.

When the new century turned a new low began as the Blues went winless in their 2002 season.

That began a seven-year drought for the Blues who didn’t win another game until the 2008 season.

It was so bad that their traditional rivalry game against the York Lions was nicknamed the “Toilet Bowl” because both teams only ever had a chance at getting a win against each other.

It was a big low for a team that essentially laid the foundation for CIS football and Canadian football in general.

It was something that the school needed to fix despite their focus on academics above athletics and so far the changes have been good.football-sidebar

2008 was the beginning of the change after they broke their losing streak and have never had a winless season since.

They have continued to climb out of the basement every year getting closer to the playoffs each year.

Last year the team finished with the best record in over a decade going 4-4 but missing the playoffs.

This year the win totals are not the same as they had last year but the Blues are showing signs that they are beginning to become a better team.

Last week the Blues dropped a tough game against Western in a lopsided loss to the best team in the OUA.

This week though they bounced back and got their own lopsided win over the Waterloo Warriors.

The Warriors used to be the teams that the Blues competed with to stay out of the basement and have rarely had many easy wins against any team.

This week they put up 34 points and shut out Waterloo in what should be seen as a sign that the Blues are turning things around.

They have one week left in the season and have missed the playoffs for over a decade in the OUA.

They will hope to change that as they are currently tied with Laurier but are sitting just outside of the last playoff spot.

If they can go into Ottawa and take a convincing win they have a good shot of making their way to the playoffs for the first time in a long time.

The Blues are right on the edge and they have been there for a few years but if they make it this year it will bring one of the most storied programs in CIS football back to the playoffs and should only help the program get back to the place they once were.

Whether they can make it or can even win a game in the playoffs remains to be seen but the Blues are slowly getting back to better seasons and like with any university football program the closer they are to the playoffs they more likely better players will go there making their team better in the long run.

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Key Scores:
Mount Allison Mounties 38 – 21 Acadia Axemen
– The battle for the AUS bye is not entirely over but the Mounties took a big lead after they beat their biggest competitor in the Axemen pushing them ahead of Acadia with only two weeks left in the season

Queen’s Gaels 33 – 32 York Lions
– The Gaels are in the playoffs after this win but they didn’t get it easily as some concern may remain after they barely got by one of the worst teams in the OUA and now enter the last week of the season hoping to steady the ship

Montreal Carabins 22 – 16 Laval Rouge et Or
– The rivalry continues as Laval and Montreal continue to play tight games throughout the season as the Rouge et Or took the first win to start the year and the Carabins took this one although it did not move them closer to first place

UBC Thunderbirds 54 – 10 Alberta Golden Bears
– The Thunderbirds had a big run at the start of the season but had fallen off recently until this week when they easily got by the Bears who were kept out of a playoffs spot while UBC moved further towards the playoffs

Next Week:
Alberta Golden Bears vs. Manitoba Bisons (Friday October 23rd; 7:00 pm CDT)
– The Golden Bears are sitting tied for fourth place with two weeks left in the season and they need a win to pass the Saskatchewan Huskies for that final playoff spot as they take on one of the better teams in the Bisons

Acadia Axemen vs. StFX X-Men (Saturday October 24th; 2:00 pm ADT)
– With the Mount Allison Mounties sitting in first place both the X-Men and Axemen are trying to catch up for that bye and this game will go a long way to doing just that as the winner could enter a tie with the Mounties but at least will help to get home advantage in the playoff game

Toronto Varsity Blues vs. Ottawa Gee Gees (Saturday October 24th; 1:00 pm EDT)
– The Blues are tied for the one and only playoff spot left in the OUA as they need a win and a convincing one if they want to overtake the Golden Hawks

Laurier Golden Hawks vs. Queen’s Gaels (Saturday October 24th; 1:00 pm EDT)
– Laurier is currently sitting in the last playoff spot tied with the Varsity Blues but with a better differential as they look to beat the Gaels who are trying to recover from a poor performance and prepare for the playoffs in a tough game for both teams

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