53rd Vanier Cup Preview

vaniercupIn the NCAA the debate will consistently rage on about who the best team is in the entire country.

Small schools will say they are just as good as the big schools but they rarely get a chance to show it while the big schools will say that by sheer competition they are better.

In the end, only four teams every year get a chance to actually prove that they are better in the relatively new College Football Playoff.

That leaves a lot of teams out of the running as a ranking is the only thing that determines these final four teams.

In Canada, things are typically Canadian as every team truly has a chance at winning the championship when the season ends.

In U Sports the playoff has been in place since 1967 when the Vanier Cup was named the official championship of CIAU Football.

In all of its iterations only two years have been of the invitational variety but since it was adopted as the national championship there has been a path to earn the title of the best in the country.

That path involves qualifying for the conference playoffs, winning a conference title, beating another championship team, and finally winning the national title.

Although some conferences might claim that they have a tougher road than other conferences the fact is this is the evenest way to determine a champion.

It takes opinions out of the equation and forces the best teams to prove that they are really the best teams.

The advantage of that system can be seen in the 53rd Vanier Cup where two of the best teams in the country face off in Hamilton.

What makes this year more special than most is that these teams are not simply great this year but they are among the best programs in the history of Canadian University football.

The league has been enjoying a bit of a resurgence of parity lately with more teams having a shot at making the title.

That came after years where a very small group of teams ruled the nest and were the only ones to meet for the Vanier Cup.

Parity is fun because it provides the unexpected and allows more programs to grow but there is something to be said about two monsters facing off to determine the best in the country.

Laval and Western are those monsters as together they account for a total of 24 Vanier Cup appearances, over 40% of all of the Vanier Cups held.

They are also the two most winningest programs in the Vanier Cup with Laval totalling nine wins and Western six.

Both have never been far away from the top of either of their conference and although the recent success has gone more towards Laval the Mustangs have appeared in nine Yates Cups since 2007.

As legendary as these franchises are, it is this season that has put them in this position and both teams have been impressive.

The Rouge et Or had a tight battle with Montreal all year as the Carabins handed them their only loss of the year while the Rouge et Or got revenge in their second matchup and the Dunsmore Cup final.

They comfortably got by Calgary in the Mitchell Bowl with a 35-23 score against the champions from an always tough CanWest conference.football-sidebar

They are also returning to the Vanier Cup for the second straight year and looking for their second straight title with much of the same team.

Hugo Richard remains the biggest name but hasn’t had a spectacular season although he doesn’t need to have one.

The Laval defence has been one of the stingiest in the country allowing just under 10 points per game to opposing teams and totalling 23 takeaways over the season.

That defence will get the biggest test they have had all year as the Mustangs are the best at lighting up the scoreboard with 386 this year averaging 48.3 per game.

Some might say they had an easier route to the finals but their 156 points in their last two games are a lot for any team to handle.

They have been playing at a different level since entering the playoffs and nobody has come close to their production.

The dual-headed running attack of Alex Taylor and Cedric Joseph has put up 12 total touchdowns this year and is the driving force for the offence.

This is a dream matchup for many University fans as two of the absolute best programs in University Football are about to take the field and prove who is better.

This game just seems to be bigger than proof for one season as this is a game that has pride written all over it.

Both schools are football powerhouses and have been for the last decade but only one can find their way to the top.

It will either be the defence of the Rouge et Or or the offence of the Mustangs and whoever wins gets bragging rights as the best program in the country.


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