U Sports Football: A look at the conference semifinals
12:00 MT (Shaw TV/Access & CanadaWest.TV): No. 9 Saskatchewan (5-3) at No. 6 Calgary (6-2)
The nationally sixth-ranked Dinos and No. 9 Huskies meet for the third time this season. The first two confrontations went to the visiting team, Calgary winning 20-19 in Saskatoon on Sept. 16 and Saskatchewan returning the favour on Oct. 22 with a 38-35 decision at McMahon Stadium… The Dinos offence will be led for the third straight week by rookie quarterback Adam Sinagra as fifth-year senior Jimmy Underdahl is still sidelined with an injury. The CEGEP product from John Abbott College was solid if not spectacular two weeks ago in the three-point loss to Saskatchewan, completing 21 of 35 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions… For the Huskies, running back Tyler Chow – a Calgary native – led Canada West this fall with 828 rushing yards but was held to under 100 yards in both games against the conference’s top-rated defence (81 & 84)… Calgary and Saskatchewan also met in the semifinal round at McMahon Stadium a year ago, when the heavily-favoured Dinos needed 18 fourth-quarter points to escape with a 37-29 win… While the Dinos have played in eight straight Hardy Cup finals, winning a record six in a row from 2008 to 2013, the Huskies’ current six-year drought is the second longest in program history (1977-1987).
13:00 ET (Rogers Cable 13 & OUA.TV): No. 8 Carleton (7-2) at No. 3 Western (7-1)
Third-ranked Western and No. 8 Carleton met in the nation’s capital back on Sept. 4, when the Ravens scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes to prevail 38-31 and hand the Mustangs their only loss of the regular season… Since Carleton returned to U Sports football in 2013, the two previous conference meetings between the two teams had ended with lopsided Western wins, 71-4 (2013) and 70-14 (2015)… Saturday’s duel will mark the first-ever post-season game between the two programs… The Ravens are coming off an impressive 45-9 defeat of crosstown rival Ottawa in the opening round of the OUA playoffs, while the Mustangs earned a much-deserved rest after finishing first in league play… Fireworks are expected at TD Stadium in London as Western topped U Sports in both points scored (49.1 per game) and total offence (569.4 yards per game) in conference play, while Carleton ranked third (39.8) and fourth (524.4) in those categories… An interesting battle of talented running backs pits Carleton’s Jayde Rowe (U Sports-leading 1,094 rushing yards in league play) against Western’s Alex Taylor (U Sports-leading 10 rushing touchdowns and 11 all-purpose TDs)… While the Mustangs have claimed a record 30 Yates Cup titles in their storied history, most recently in 2013, the Ravens are looking to advance to their first-ever Yates Cup final (due in part to the fact they played outside of OUA for many years).
13:00 ET (CHCH & OUA.TV): No. 7 McMaster (7-2) at No. 5 Laurier (7-1)
This will be the first meeting of the season between No. 5-ranked Wilfrid Laurier and No. 7 McMaster… A year ago, the Golden Hawks upset the Marauders 29-15 in OUA quarter-final action in Hamilton, thanks in large part to 285 rushing yards by Dillon Campbell… While Laurier enjoyed a first-round bye last weekend after taking second place in the conference standings, McMaster survived a scare on home turf and edged defending Yates Cup champion Guelph 17-11 thanks to a goal-line, last-second interception by defensive back Keldyn Ahlstedt… On Saturday, the prolific Hawks offence, which topped U Sports in rushing yards (281.4 per game) and ranked second in points scored (42.6 per game) in league play, goes against a Marauders’ defence that was the stingiest in Ontario allowing only 10.9 points per contest… Laurier’s defensive unit has been stellar as well this fall, placing second in the OUA with an average of 15.8 points against… It could be a long afternoon for quarterbacks Asher Hastings of McMaster and Michael Knevel of Laurier as the Hawks and Marauders finished 1-2 in the nation with 36 and 30 sacks, respectively, including a U Sports-leading 11.5 by fifth-year McMaster defensive lineman Mike Kashak… McMaster (17) and Laurier (16 – tied with StFX) were also 1-2 in the country in interceptions… The Marauders hope to return to the OUA championship game for the first time since 2014, when they captured their third Yates Cup title in four years, while the Golden Hawks last reached the conference final in 2006.
14:00 AT (Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 & AUStv.ca): Acadia (2-6) at Mount Allison (3-5)
14:00 ET (TVA Sports): McGill (4-4) at No. 2 Montreal (7-1)
Saturday’s game at Mosaic Stadium will mark the first-ever post-season contest between fourth-ranked Regina and UBC, and the first home playoff game for the Rams since 2012… Regina finished first in Canada West for the first time in program history this fall thanks to a 6-2 mark that included a pair of close-fought wins over the Thunderbirds, 20-10 in Vancouver on Sept. 17 and 35-33 at home on Oct. 21… It marked a remarkable turnaround for a Regina program that was coming off a 0-8 campaign in 2015… For its part, UBC never really got going this season, a year after capturing its first Vanier Cup title since 1997, and enters the playoffs on a three-game losing streak… The T-Birds are only the second Canada West team to make the post-season despite losing its final three league games, joining the 2000 UBC squad… Individually, the story of the year in U Sports football has been Regina quarterback Noah Picton, who set a new national record with 3,186 passing yards and also finished first in the country in touchdown passes (25) and completion percentage (69.3)… Adding to the story is the fact Picton’s favourite target is his cousin Mitchell Picton, who led U Sports with 11 TD catches and was first in Canada West in receptions (58) and receiving yards (834)… For UBC, sophomore pivot Michael O’Connor, last year’s Vanier Cup MVP, quietly enjoyed a solid season of his own despite his team’s sub-.500 campaign and finished league play with a UBC-record 2,598 passing yards to go with 20 TD passes and only eight interceptions… In fact, O’Connor had more passing yards than Picton in both UBC-Regina contests in the regular season, including a 347-282 advantage in the first meeting (Picton’s season low) and a 362-329 edge two weeks ago.
WEEK 11 SCHEDULE (all times local)
NOTE 2: Click HERE for the complete 2016 playoff schedule & results
12:00 No. 9 Saskatchewan (5-3) at No. 6 Calgary (6-2) (Shaw TV/Access & CanadaWest.TV)
13:00 No. 8 Carleton (7-2) at No. 3 Western (7-1) (Rogers Cable 13 & OUA.TV)
13:00 No. 7 McMaster (7-2) at No. 5 Laurier (7-1) (CHCH & OUA.TV)
14:00 Acadia (2-6) at Mount Allison (3-5) (Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 & AUStv.ca)
14:00 McGill (4-4) at No. 2 Montreal (7-1) (TVA Sports)
14:00 Concordia (4-4) at No. 1 Laval (7-1)
15:30 UBC (3-5) at No. 4 Regina (6-2) (Shaw TV/Access & CanadaWest.TV)
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