2015 CIS Bowl Preview

 

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This is where it gets interesting in the CIS as four teams are left to play for two spots in the biggest game of the year.

It is more interesting than many of the other games of the season for one simple fact, unfamiliarity.

Football is a game that blends physicality and strategy to create an intense game that is just as much a mind game as it is a game of skill.

This strategy is what keeps coaches up at night as they are constantly trying to find ways to take advantage of another team.

They watch film to see what another team does and the plays that they run more often.

That study then informs what they can do to stop the other team and their offence or to take advantage of what they see as a weakness in the defence.

It is a constant cat and mouse game between coordinators who are always trying to bring new things to the table and surprise each other in order to get the win.

That gets easier as the season moves on when teams gets more tape on their opponents.

In the playoffs it can be even easier to plan as teams may change a few things form the regular season but often they have already faced each other and know generally what each other does on offence and defence.

In the playoffs when two teams face-off for the second or third time it is all about bringing the unexpected to the game.

Planning an offence or defensive strategy against a team that you have already faced provides plenty of issues as they have seen what you want to do when you play them.

That gives them some insight into what they will see in the upcoming game so teams need to make some adjustments and attempt to bring some unexpected play to the game.

That all goes out the door in the national playoffs though as none of these teams have faced each other before.football-sidebar

That provides a blank slate for every team as they may have plenty of film on every team but when it comes down to game time there is no guarantee that any team will do what they have done.

It is a tough thing as there is no familiarity between these teams at all with only the RSEQ and AUS every crossing over during the regular season.

The rest of the conferences stay put and now they get to prove who the toughest of them will be when it comes down to the biggest games of the year.

For coaches the match-ups are tough to figure out while the players just need to play and hope that they have enough to beat their opponent.

The planning will have to do somewhat with the conferences that each of these four teams have come from as all have their own tendencies.

The Montreal Carabins are from the RSEQ which has been a defensive powerhouse for years.

They Carabins follow that pattern as a great defensive team that beat another great defensive team to get here.

The OUA is all about offence and the Guelph Gryphons have that offence beating the best offence in the country.

The AUS is about finding ways to win as they don’t have the best offence or defence but they get things done somehow which is what StFX did against Mount Allison.

In the West the game is about balance between teams who can both put up points and stop them from going up which is what UBC did against Calgary.

The national playoffs bring all of these teams together as they all not only represent their school but their conference and their region as all try to prove that they are the best team in the country.

 

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This could be the one to watch during Bowl weekend as Quebec and Ontario face-off in an old-school battle. Long before the west and east coast were playing football Quebec and Ontario teams were fighting for the top prizes in Canada. The Yates Cup, the nation’s oldest football trophy, was the top prize for years and teams from both provinces took the title. They have grown into two powerhouses of football in Canada with a total of 28 Vanier Cups have gone to that province. This year two great teams have found their way to the bowl round with both having varying levels of experience. There is Montreal who last year shocked the CIS world in beating the 11-time RSEQ champion Laval for the Dunsmore Cup and working that into their first Vanier Cup in school history. They were the great story last year but now will enter the Mitchell bowl as a favourite to win it all. They once again beat Laval for the Dunsmore Cup and again it was off of a missed field goal as time was winding down. Now they enter the Mitchell Bowl with plenty of confidence and potentially believing they have gotten through their toughest test in Laval. On the other side is the constant bridesmaids in the Guelph Gryphons who finished 7-1 for the last four years but are playing in their first bowl since 1996. That was back when the Mitchell and Uteck Bowls didn’t exist as they lost to Saskatchewan in the Churchill Bowl. They had constantly been one of the best teams in the OUA and couldn’t win the Yates Cup but this year they finally broke that streak beating Western in a fairly convincing win in the Yates Cup. Now they look to take advantage of their opportunity by punching their ticket to the Vanier Cup for the first time since they won it in 1984. It will be a match-up of opposing styles as Montreal is ranked as the second best defence in the country while their offence is ranked 14th overall. The Gryphons come in slightly better ranked 4th best in offence while they rank 7th in defence. That could be the difference as the Carabins are clearly the better defensive team but their offence is far worse than the Gryphons defence is this year. The Carabins will need to up their offensive game if they hope to win this one as Guelph can put up points, they put up 23 against Western who is the third best defence in Canada, and they can surely shut down a struggling offence.

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The Uteck Bowl is an interesting game this year as the two coasts face-off in a match-up of big versus small. BC has always been a centre for sports in Canada while the east coast is often the forgotten area when it comes to Canadian sports. That has been true in football as well with the junior football programs in British Columbia ranking among the best in the country while few if any players have come out of the east coast. Even when it comes to the university teams the AUS has often been the forgotten conference as they have failed to make a Vanier Cup since 2007 when Saint Mary’s lost. More often than not the AUS has been the conference that most believe can’t compete on the national stage while the CanWest conference consistently has top teams in the country. The same can be said this year as three teams were ranked in the top ten, including Calgary who was #1, while no team was ranked in the top ten from the AUS. So now the two conferences face-off but not the teams that many expected. The two top teams in each conference are gone with UBC and StFX representing their regions with plenty to prove. For the X-Men it is simple as they have the weight of the east coast on their backs. The AUS hasn’t won a bowl game in five years and they rarely come close to beating some of the bigger programs. Nobody is giving the X-Men a chance this time around and they didn’t prove themselves much in an ugly Loney Bowl. Still they found a way to win that game and have done it all year as sometimes it’s more about determination than pure skill. The X-Men are here now and although they don’t possess the skill level of UBC they do have that fire inside to prove that the east coast can produce winners on the national stage. For the Thunderbirds the proof is all about the fact that everyone thinks they arrived too early. A new coach and a new quarterback brought hope to UBC this year but many believed that there was going to be an adjustment period. Then the Thunderbirds rose to the top of the conference and took out the best team in the country winning the Hardy Cup against the Calgary Dinos last week. Now they enter the Uteck Bowl trying to show that they have arrived and that this is there time. They have the skill over the X-Men but if they look past a team they could lose as any team can win at any moment in games that can turn at any play.

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