The final weekly list below the jump (nine years of Top 27s and counting!)
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No. 15 -- Mount Allison
It's probably telling that I forgot Mount A the first time I wrote this! The Mounties earned a playoff berth for the first time in a long while.. They are still clearly a ways away from the top f the AUS, but improvement is there. If they can finally stabilize the head coaching position, there is a future at the program. Playing at Mount A is a different type of experience -- the facilities aren't as nice and the pace is much slower, but for a certain kid there is a lot of appeal to playing on a small campus like Mount A. Anyone who was there during the lean years has to be cheering for the Mounties just a little bit.
No. 14 -- Sherbrooke
The Vert et Or slumped to the finish in 2008. Last week's final score likely flattered them, after falling behind by 39 points to Concordia. Still, a solid season for Sherb that can be built on
No. 13 -- Wilfrid Laurier
The Hawks were just a little too young in 2008. But, when your rebuilding seasons are 7-3 things are OK with your program.
No. 12 -- St. FX
Based on interlocking results, I can't place the No. 2 AUS team much higher. Last year, X surprised in the Jewett with a close loss. Although SMU is struggling this year to find its form, the season results don't point to the possibility of a St. FX upset. It is hard to play a team three times in a season, but since the two teams played a game to end the year that had nothing on the line -- and therefore would not have featured much to look at on film -- I'm not sure that's as much of a factor this year. If I'm wrong, and X plays this game to within seven points, I will subject myself to ny public humiliation that the X-fans wish to put upon me. Seriously. I'm not worried.
No. 11 -- Regina
140 to 44. That, the Regina and Calgary rushing totals, was the difference last week in what was a tough loss that ended a disappointing season for the Rams. There was a time when there was a certain toughness to Regina, but it just seems that the Rams have played soft the last few seasons.
No. 10 -- Saskatchewan
It just wasn't a Saskatchewan-like, Saskatchewan season. They likely rode their reputation in the rankings for much of the year.
No. 9 -- Montreal
The final call on Montreal's strength won't come until Laval is tested in the bowl game. If, as I suspect, the Rouge et Or win in a walk then the Carabins ranking goes up. If Laval is tested, it stays about here.
No. 8 -- The Golden Gaels
Oh, man. Two weeks ago I was told by someone close to the program that Mike Giffin was likely out. At that point, it was difficult to see how the Goldens would continue their magic. Although a team is more than one player, it is very difficult to adjust an offence when the feature back goes down. I can't say I was shocked by the result last week, especially when you consider Ottawa getting healthier. It's too bad (both personally, growing up in Belleville I have a soft spot for the local university and a tonne of my friends went to Queen's, but also for the CIS. A Queen's Vanier would have packed the place). This was likely the Golden Gaels best chance for a while too.
No. 7 -- Ottawa
They are getting healthy and one should remember that the Gee-Gees were contenders for the pre-season No. 1 pick. However, there has been a bit too many low points in '08 for Ottawa to be considered as anything more than what they are now--an underdog that pulled an upset and has to pull a couple more to really accomplish something.
No. 6 -- Calgary
Whether Can West is ultra competitive in 2008 or just mediocre won't be determined for two more weeks. But now it appears that this year will feature the weakest western champions since SFU represented the conference as a No. 4 seed in 2003 and travelled all the way to Halifax to get clobbered by Saint Mary's.
No. 5 -- Simon Fraser
Speaking of....The Clan are hard to peg. From afar it seems like they are getting better results than the roster would indicate and even those in Can West are slow to defend the team (SFU will never inspire the type of western loyalty that any other program out there will). They likely haven't been given enough respect, however. But, the Clan will need to show something big against a team not wearing green before they will be taken seriously as a Vanier contender.
No. 4 -- Western
Greg Marshall is a hell of a coach and he probably has better balance and more overall talent now than he did at anytime while at McMaster (resisting "with the Ti-Cats too" joke). Young and athletic with a veteran QB in Michael Faulds, this could be the 'Stangs best shot at making a Vanier in some time (although this program seems to be back in the annoyingly good every year path again).
No. 3 -- SMU
The play doesn't justify a No. 3 ranking. The experience of playing in the Vanier Cup last year bumps them there. Forget talk of an OUA bye (the last time the AUS played the OUA it has its ass handed to them by Laurier in '05, at home, no less). SMU will need to earn its trip to Hamilton. But, don't count them out either.
No. 2 -- Concordia
Quebec appears to be the strongest conference in '08 and Concordia has looked all year like the only team capable of defeating Laval. The third game factor is also at play--it's always hard to defeat a team three times in a year. They are big underdogs, but if the Stingers can pull the upset it says here that old Loyola College will see national glory for the first time. It's a big if, however.
No. 1 -- Laval
In the CIS world of 2008, the Rouge et Or are default favourites. They won't win every year, but they will win more often than they don't. The best thing that can happen to Laval this week would be for them to win by six on a last-minute TD. They need to be pushed before they get out of conference.
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