CIS Football Report (Conference Finals)

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The national playoffs are set and four teams took a step towards the ultimate goal, a trip to Quebec City to play for the Vanier Cup.

When the playoffs started things seemed to be going according to plan as the conference semi-finals ended fairly predictably.

No team that finished lower than the team they were going against won any game in a weekend that set up a best against best championship weekend.

It was all first and second place teams that found their way to the finals and the top teams in the country were still alive.

By that logic it should have been a fairly easy weekend to predict as most expected the top teams to dominate and move on to the national playoffs.

If that happened the best teams were going to take on the best teams and it was going to be a great playoffs.

But that is why they play the games as the best teams in the regular season are not necessarily the best teams in the playoffs.

Championship week in the CIS provided plenty of surprises with every second place team winning the title in their conference.

In the AUS the Mount Allison Mountie were looking for their third straight title but the StFX X-Men were able to get by them thanks to a last second field goal that won the game.

In the RSEQ Laval and Montreal added another chapter to their growing rivalry and in a defensive battle the Carabins were able to block what would have been a winning field goal for the second time in as many years.

For Ontario it was a match-up between the Western Mustangs, winners of 30 Yates Cups, and the Guelph Gryphons, who had finished 7-1 for four straight years and never won a Yates Cup.

The game was a close one but a 13-point fourth quarter brought the Gryphons past the Mustangs to win the titles.

The CanWest conference saw what was supposed to be the biggest difference between teams as the #1 ranked Calgary Dinos hosted the UBC Thunderbirds who were trying to complete a massive turnaround.

The Thunderbirds were able to do it when they established a big lead in the first half and shut down the Dinos in the second.football-sidebar

It was a strange weekend where not only one top teams but every top team fell and even more strange is the week it set up.

The Montreal Carabins were at this same point last year when they beat Laval and took that momentum to a Vanier Cup win.

Other than Montreal though no other team has been to this part of the playoffs since the 1990s.

The last time that both StFX and Guelph won their conference titles it was 1996 while UBC last won their conference title in 1997.

That is a long time in any sport but in university sports it is a lifetime as they only have five years with any one class.

Every five years the team looks completely different and if a coach cannot start winning within that time they are not coming back.

These three teams have been through those new phases time and time again to the point where there are few people involved in any of those programs that has seen the national playoffs as a member of the program.

That provides a lot of inexperience from the players and the coaches as they enter the next level of playoff football.

Luckily for two teams that is not the case on the sidelines as UBC goes into the Uteck Bowl with Blake Nill at the helm.

Nill guided the Calgary Dinos to six Hardy Cups and has taken his teams to three Vanier Cups.

Danny Maciocia in Montreal guided his team to the Vanier Cup just last year and is back as another experienced coach.

Other than those two though these programs are inexperienced and they will all be looking to get the Vanier Cup that they have been waiting for after years of staying out of the national stage.

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