54th Vanier Cup Preview

vcpreviewIt is an all-too-familiar sight as the two teams that were standing here last year remain here a full year later.

In 2017 the Laval Rouge et Or and Western Mustangs found their way to the Vanier Cup having to fight through some serious challengers on their way to the title.

This year the result was the same but the path for both teams was slightly different, although not for the worse.

It is a rare sight to see two great university teams come back the next year and not only be great but be better.

That is what fans were witness to this year as the challengers seemed far and away from these two teams on their way through the season.

In Quebec City, Laval has been the team to beat since only a few years after the football program began.

They have won countless RSEQ titles since 1999 and for most of that time, they were the only good team in the entire province.

That began to change a few years ago when the Montreal Carabins rose to end a decade-long reign at the top of the conference.

Since that Dunsmore Cup loss in 2014, the Carabins have been the team to watch in the division as the only team to truly be able to challenge the Rouge et Or.

They took two straight titles in 2014 and 2015 and since then have been the only team to hand Laval losses.

They have played them in the Dunsmore Cup since 2014 and have had mixed results as they constantly put up a fight.

This season the same fight was expected as they wondered whether or not the Carabins could take another RSEQ title away from the Rouge et Or.

It wasn’t meant to be as the Rouge et Or were able to get by Montreal, although in close games, staying undefeated on the season.

They moved through the playoffs and once again faced Montreal to take the Dunsmore Cup and earn their spot in the national playoffs.

The challenge that they were supposed to get from Montreal was never quite there this year and so the Rouge et Or walked into the Vanier Cup with little challenge.

Their opponents in the game experienced a similar path to the Vanier Cup as the Western Mustangs were supposed to see a similar battle this year.

In 2016 the Mustangs were on the wrong side of an upset when a rising Laurier Golden Hawks team was able to beat one of the most powerful programs in the country.

It was supposed to be the beginning of a similar relationship in the RSEQ as the Hawks could have become the Carabins to Western’s Rouge et Or.

Laurier looked like they were going to challenge as the team was still relatively intact and willing to challenge the Mustangs heading into the next year.

2017 saw the Hawks play well but not well enough, losing to Western in the Yates Cup.

Heading into 2018 it was expected that Laurier had the potential to challenge the Mustangs once again.football-sidebar

This year though they weren’t much of a challenge for the Mustangs who stumbled once at the start of the season but still took that win.

The Mustangs walked through most of their season and into the playoffs where they once again put up big numbers leaving no doubt that they were the best team.

They did the same in the bowl game and for another year the resistance was slim to none on their way to the Vanier Cup.

Now both teams will face off again in what seems like a repeat of a year ago with the offensive powerhouse taking on a dominant defensive power.

Western brings an offence that continued to put up big numbers throughout the season including scoring 63 points in the Yates Cup and 47 in the Mitchell Bowl.

Laval was able to put up 63 points of their own in the Uteck Bowl but most of their season has concentrated on the defensive side like it has in the past.

The real question will be if the Rouge et Or can figure out a way to shut this team down after last year’s loss.

The Mustangs put up 39 points against the Laval defence a year ago eliminating the saying that defence wins championships.

If the Rouge et Or want to win it won’t be Hugo Richard matching Chris Merchant and the Mustang offence.

Laval will need to find a way to slow Merchant down and eliminate some of the major weapons that they have while putting up their own points.

It is going to be a challenge as the Rouge et Or failed to do this a year ago and with the same powerful offence, a similar result could be in the works as two dominant programs face off against each other once again.


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