University Sports

Walling: Western is the No. 1 CIS football team...for now

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Alex J. Walling
11/1/2013 7:50:27 PM
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The football ratings say that the Western Mustangs are the number one college football team in this country. But their coach Greg Marshall says Laval, also undefeated and rated number two, "are the champs until they are knocked out" in his mind.

In fact, for the first time since the CIS college football ratings came out, three teams across this country have finished the regular season undefeated.

In addition to Western and Laval the Calgary Dinos finished with a perfect 8-0 mark.

Western is generally acclaimed as the top school in the nation and certainly in Ontario where there is much competition with Guelph and Queen's (both finished at 7-1). Queen's and Guelph are in the national top 10 and both lost their only game to Western.

Pat Sheahan, the head coach at Queen's, told TSN.ca that Western is "way out in front this year. They've scored 50 points against all teams this year, their quarterback Will Finch set an all-time CIS passing record and they've got talent and support. They are deserving of the number one rating."

The No. 2 team Laval became perhaps the only team ever to slip from the number one spot to the number two position while scoring 50 points and winning their game.

This took place after week four and as CIS P.R. man Michel Belanger told me "Yes, Laval scored 52 points against Sherbrooke but gave up over 30 points in that game. We felt Western deserved the number one rating."

Western coach Greg Marshall told TSN.ca "the ratings say we are No. 1 but (to) our team that honour belongs to Laval. They are also undefeated and are the defending champions so until they lose that's how we feel about it. I'd love to meet them and the only way that is possible is in the Vanier Cup."

Laval plays Sherbrooke at home this weekend and hasn't lost a home game since 2004!

Coming in a little bit 'under the radar', as the expression goes, are the Calgary Dinos.

Head coach Blake Nill is on the verge of winning his sixth straight division title.

Nill won six straight AUS titles when he was at Saint Mary's. From 1999-2003 he took the Huskies to four Vanier Cups in five years, and became the first coach ever to be in a Vanier Cup three consecutive years (2001-03) and winning the Vanier in 2001 and 2002. That has been equalled by Laval coach Glen Constantine.

Nill took the Dinos from an 0-8 record in 2006 and after working his recruiting magic has won the league title since 2008. He certainly built a dynasty and plays UBC at home this weekend.

"We've had some good breaks along the way," says Nill.

One of the biggest breaks came in the first half of the very first season game when the league MVP Eric Dzwilewski went down for the season and third year man Andrew Buckley, who had seen very little game action, took control and didn't miss a beat.

"To have the results that he did under the circumstances that he became the starter is amazing," Nill told me. "His passing completion percentage is around 75 per cent, not too many guys can make that claim in college ball."

Calgary hosts UBC in the semifinal.

It should be an interesting playoff weekend.

Will all three undefeated teams make it?

And if the top two teams should advance and meet it will be in Quebec City as Laval hosts the Vanier Cup.

Maybe Western coach Greg Marshall will get his wish.

For TSN.ca, I'm Alex J. Walling.

Alex J. can be reached via email at: ajw@eastlink.ca

Western Mustangs (Photo: University of Western Ontario Mustangs)

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(Photo: University of Western Ontario Mustangs)
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