Montreal enters ‘hostile environment’ at Laval for Dunsmore Cup

The so-called Big Three of Western, Laval and Calgary are getting plenty of attention on the Canadian university football playoff scene thanks to their undefeated records.

But don’t sleep on fourth-ranked Montreal.

The Carabins have reason to be confident entering Saturday’s showdown with archrival Laval in the Dunsmore Cup – the Quebec conference final. The Carabins allowed only 46 points over the entire regular season and pushed the Rouge et Or to overtime in their last visit to Quebec City.

“If there’s one thing I don’t have to worry about, it’s getting them up for this one,” said Montreal head coach Danny Maciocia.

Laval (8-0, 1-0 in playoffs) earned a hard-fought 12-7 road victory over the Carabins on Sept. 8 and edged Montreal (6-2, 1-0) again a month later with an 18-15 OT win at home.

“It’s going to be a huge test to beat the same team three times in the same year,” said Laval head coach Glen Constantin.

The Rouge et Or, who fell to Western in last year’s Vanier Cup, crushed Sherbrooke 40-0 last weekend while Montreal thumped McGill 48-2.

“Details will have a say in the outcome,” Maciocia said. “We have to be detail-oriented and we have to make sure that we understand what our responsibilities are. If there are any checks that have to be made at the line of scrimmage, they have to be made.

“We also have to be aware of the fact that we’re in a hostile environment and we’ve got to make sure that we block out all that noise.”

Laval topped Montreal 25-22 in last year’s Quebec conference final. The Rouge et Or, who beat Calgary to win the Vanier Cup in 2016, dropped a 39-17 decision to the Mustangs in last year’s national championship in Hamilton.

Maciocia said his players watched tape from that game to help prepare for Laval.

“The (Western) offensive line clearly imposed their will on Laval and that made all the difference in the world,” he said.

In Ontario, the Mustangs (8-0, 1-0) will host the Guelph Gryphons in the Yates Cup. Western is coming off a 39-13 rout of Carleton while the Gryphons (5-3, 2-0) downed host Ottawa 27-22.

Western completed a wire-to-wire run in top spot in the national football rankings this week. The Mustangs finished with 232 points and had seven first-place votes from the Football Reporters of Canada panel.

Laval was next with 220 points and four first-place votes and the Dinos were third with 196 points and one first-place vote.

In the Canada West conference, Calgary (8-0, 1-0) will entertain the Saskatchewan Huskies (5-3, 1-0) in the Hardy Cup. The Dinos dumped Manitoba 37-13 last week while Saskatchewan shaded UBC 31-28 in overtime in Vancouver.

After a first-round bye, Saint Mary’s (7-1) will open its Atlantic conference playoff season at home to St. Francis Xavier (6-2, 1-0) in the Loney Bowl. The X-Men dispatched Acadia 33-10 last week.

The Quebec champion will host the Atlantic winner in next week’s Uteck Bowl while the Ontario champion will entertain the Canada West champion in the Mitchell Bowl.

The Vanier Cup is set for Nov. 24 at Quebec City.

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