... or at least they did in 2007. Last season, both Laurier (alma mater of two Out of Left Field-ers) and Queen's (three grads, two current students) were unbeaten heading into their matchup, which occasioned our own Duane Rollins making his debut on the blog. This time around, some things have been changed -- one of the teams has a loss in the standings, while one has only lost an adjective. Not everything has changed, though, until Queen's pins a L on Laurier.
A few times each CIS football season a team will get a chance to make a statement. With a big win, or even, in some cases, a close loss the team can shut its detractors up.
For Queen's, that's this week. The Golden Gaels are 4-0 and No. 7 in the deeply flawed official CIS rankings, but do not have the respect of informed observers of the CIS game. To those folks, Queen's has had an easy schedule, lacks depth and, mostly, is just a bit too … Ontario to be taken seriously.
Laurier, Queen's opponent this Saturday, is a different story. You can't make a bigger statement than winning a Vanier Cup and WLU's magical run through the '05 playoffs has bought the team all sorts of capital-R respect.
Wrestling legend Ric Flair once said (well, several times, actually), "to be the man, you gotta beat the man." Queen's plays the man this week. If the Gaels can play with Laurier they will earn some of that respect they currently lack. Looking at the results so far, there is no reason to think that they can't.
Third-year QB Dan Brannagan is living up to his hype, passing for more than 1,000 yards already. He's complemented, for the first time in memory, with a running game. Mike Giffin is third in the nation with more than 500 yards rushing.
On defence, Queen's is sixth in the nation, allowing a little more than 300 yards total offence per contest.
Them's some nice little numbers.
What do they mean? Maybe more than they are being given credit for. Queen's hasn't been ripping things up against Toronto and York (who, by the way, play the Toilet Bowl this week). No, the Gaels have beaten Western (who is probably the best 0-4 team in the country), an underrated Guelph, recent OUA power McMaster and Windsor, who, although reeling, have talent.
The Gaels have earned their 4-0 record. Yet, if your local bookie is taking bets on this game, Laurier is likely a 7 ½-point favourite. Truth-be-told, I'd lay the points.
Laurier brings an intangible that makes you believe their stats a bit more (They have the country's No. 1 offence, No. 3 defence and the leading rusher, Ryan Lynch). The Hawks are well-coached and only two years removed from a national championship. After playing in four straight Yates Cup games, winning twice, Laurier has consistently shown that, in Ontario, right now, it is the man.
Is Queen's man enough to beat the man?
We'll see, but I don't think so. Not yet, anyway.
Epilogue: Duane called an 18-point Laurier win (32-14) and the Golden Hawks won by 19 (23-4). That was then, this is now. Please bear in mind last week on our own Tyler King's Offsides (4 p.m., cfrc.ca), the two esteemed members of the Roundtable called a Guelph win, while the guy who brings down the property values took the Gaels. That seemed to work out for everyone who bleeds the Tricolour.