U Sports Football: National Playoff Preview

File_2017_11_25_6_24_46_PMThis is the chance that all of the U Sports programs were looking for when the season began as they were all hoping to be here at the end of November.

The National playoffs are a chance to see the best teams against the best teams in a way that college sports rarely sees.

In the NCAA things are left up to a ranking system to determine the best four teams but with the U Sports organization, it is all about earning that spot.

The four teams in the national playoffs have all found there way here by getting through an entire conference schedule and coming out on top.

For these teams, this is their chance to now show that they are the best team in the country by taking home a Vanier Cup.

To get there they need to find their way through the Semi-Final bowl games and this year the theme following every program is beginning to show some cracks.

There was little doubt that programs like Western and Laval were going to be here at this point in the season.

The Mustangs are the defending champions taking home their 7th Vanier Cup title as the country’s best team.

To get that title they had to beat the most dominant team in U Sports, the Laval Rouge et Or.

Since beginning their program in 1999 the Rouge et Or have taken home 9 Vanier Cup titles and have been the best program in the country.

When the season started they were among the teams that everyone was looking to as the potential champions.

The Mustangs still had a strong team and Laval rarely stays down for long with few times where they have gone two seasons without a Vanier Cup.

Along with these two teams was the other member of the big three programs in U Sports who have dominated their conferences over the last decade.

The Calgary Dinos were also expected to be here when conference play ended as they may have taken a few hits over the last few years but they were still the class of the CanWest conference.

While the Mustangs and the Rouge et Or were able to meet their expectations, the Dinos were on the end of the first real surprise of the season.

Despite going through the entire regular season without losing a game the Dinos weren’t able to get by the Saskatchewan Huskies.

The Huskies were able to launch a surprise and earn the Hardy Trophy for the first time since 2006.

Now they ride that momentum into the Mitchell Bowl where they will travel to London to take on the Mustangs.

They have gotten through one of the best programs in the country and now they take on the team many consider to be the best.

The Mustangs have had no challenge any step of the way aside from one close game at the start of the year against Carleton.

The Yates Cup Final was an expression of just how good they are though as they beat the Guelph Gryphons 63-14 leaving no doubt that they were the best team.

It is going to be a challenge for the Huskies to take on two of the best programs in a row but surprising a second could just ignite this season and turn everything on its head.

On the other side of the bracket is the Uteck Bowl where the ultimate U Sports David on a true Goliath.football-sidebar

The AUS has rarely produced national championship teams especially within the last decade and their best chance of that title was knocked off in the Loney Bowl.

The Saint Mary’s Huskies went through almost the entire season without losing a game and were looking like a potential contender.

They couldn’t win the biggest game though as they took a loss to StFX in the Loney Bowl leaving them out of the national stage.

Instead, the X-Men take their shot looking to prove that they are the best chance for the AUS to get back to the Vanier Cup.

To beat the Rouge et Or would be a different level of accomplishment as the Rouge et Or are the clear favourites in this game.

The Semi-Finals have a lot of potential as they could see two upsets leading to a Vanier Cup with two underdogs trying to break the mould.

They could also see two dominant teams take care of business setting up a rematch of last year’s Vanier Cup and a matchup of two of the best programs in the country.

It could also be a combination of both leading to an underdog taking on a powerhouse in the final game of the year.

Although the U Sports season has been predictable this season fans can only hope for some excitement with two favourites taking on two underdogs.

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