USports football top 10: Ottawa rising after Panda Game victory

After surviving their second scare of the season, the reigning Vanier Cup champion Western Mustangs top the USports football national rankings for the sixth week in a row.

The Mustangs (5-0), who had to overcome an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit on Saturday to edge old rival Queen’s, received 138 points from the Football Reporters of Canada panel in this week’s voting and an additional 150 from the ELO Rating System for a combined total of 288.

The 2017 Vanier Cup finalist Laval Rouge et Or (5-0 / 272 points) follow in second place for the sixth straight Tuesday, while the Calgary Dinos (5-0 / 247) and Montreal Carabins (4-1 / 213) remain third and fourth, respectively.

Western (9), Laval (5) and Calgary (1) were once again the only teams to merit first-place votes from the 15-member FRC panel.

Rounding out the sixth top 10 of the campaign are the fifth-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees (4-1 / 145 / up four positions), No. 6 Saint Mary’s Huskies (5-0 / 132 / up one), No. 7 Saskatchewan Huskies (3-2 / 90 / down one), No. 8 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (2-3 / 78 / no change), No. 9 Carleton Ravens(4-2 / 54 / down four), as well as the No. 10 Guelph Gryphons (3-3 / 47), who return to the elite group after a one-week hiatus.

Thanks to a spectacular 38-27 triumph over OUA cross-town foe Carleton in the 50th Panda Game played in front of 24,000 at TD Place Stadium, the Gee-Gees earned their best national ranking since 2010, when they were fourth in the last two polls of the season (Oct. 26 and Nov. 2 polls).

Photo credit: USports
Photo credit: USports

Meanwhile, the other members of the top 5 cruised to comfortable wins this past weekend with the exception of top-ranked Western.

Coming off three straight victories by 38 points or more, the defending national champs got all they could handle Saturday in Kingston. Trailing 23-12 with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, Western scored 14 unanswered points down the stretch on touchdown runs from standout running back Alex Taylor and quarterback Chris Merchant, the reigning Vanier Cup MVP.

The Mustangs, who had previously been tested in a Week 1 overtime victory against Carleton, now face a short week as they are set to host Windsor (1-4) on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, Rogers TV – tape delay & OUA.TV).

At Montreal, the Rouge et Or used a 30-point third quarter to down Concordia 53-2. Through five league games, the stingy Laval defence has allowed a USports-low 5.2 points per contest.

At Calgary, the Dinos defeated visiting Saskatchewan 33-13 thanks in large part to 432 passing yards and four TD tosses from MVP candidate Adam Sinagra.

Also at Montreal, the Carabins, who rank second behind Laval in points allowed per game (5.6), held Sherbrooke to 98 total yards of offence and four first downs en route to a 43-2 win.

Other Week 6 results from top-10 squads included Saint Mary’s 27, StFX 24 (at StFX); Guelph 27, Laurier 24 (at Laurier).

Only nine games are on the Week 7 schedule as the Canada West conference heads into its traditional Thanksgiving break.

The showcase event is set for Sunday afternoon in Quebec City, where No. 4 Montreal and No. 2 Laval meet for the second time this fall, live on TVA Sports(1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT). Including the Rouge et Or’s 12-7 road win in early September, 11 of the past 12 head-to-head duels have been decided by six points or less.

Another top-10 confrontation takes place Friday evening in the nation’s capital as struggling Laurier, which has lost three in a row following a 2-0 start, visits Carleton (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, OUA.TV).

In the AUS, conference-leading Saint Mary’s looks to keep its unblemished record intact against visiting Bishop’s (0-5), Saturday in Halifax (2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 &

FRC – USports football top 10 (#6)

New this season, U SPORTS is implementing the ELO Rating System for the calculation of its weekly national rankings, in conjunction with its regular Football Reporters of Canada panel. Powered by RankR, ELO’s unique algorithm blends a statistical calculation with customized variables that is adaptable across a range of sports. For football, it will be combined with the results of the media panel balloting (each weighted 50%) to produce the final top 10.

1 Western 5-0 138 (9) 150 288 1
2 Laval 5-0 137 (5) 135 272 2
3 Calgary 5-0 127 (1) 120 247 3
4 Montreal 4-1 108 105 213 4
5 Ottawa 4-1 85 60 145 9
6 Saint Mary’s 5-0 42 90 132 7
7 Saskatchewan 3-2 60 30 90 6
8 Laurier 2-3 3 75 78 8
9 Carleton 4-2 54 0 54 5
10 Guelph 3-3 2 45   47 NR
Honourable mention: Regina (43), McMaster (27), Queen’s (7), Manitoba (6), StFX (1)

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