OTTAWA (CIS) – For the seventh time in nine years, the Laval Rouge et Or top the first national ranking of the CIS football season.
The Rouge et Or, who last fall captured a record-setting seventh Vanier Cup title in only their 17th CIS campaign, received all 20 first-place votes and 200 points from the Football Reporters of Canada panel in the inaugural weekly poll of 2013.
Following in order are the No. 2 Queen's Gaels (141 points), No. 3 Calgary Dinos (137), No. 4 Western Mustangs (129), No. 5 Montreal Carabins (123), No. 6 McMaster Marauders (122), No. 7 Guelph Gryphons (75), No. 8 Sherbrooke Vert & Or (59), No. 9 Saskatchewan Huskies (57) and No. 10 Manitoba Bisons (36).
Top-ranked Laval, which returns a whopping 11 starters on offence from the squad that dominated McMaster 37-14 in last year's national final, was impressive last Saturday in a pre-season test against Calgary, defeating the five-time defending Canada West champions 32-3 in front of over 11,000 fans in Quebec City. The Rouge et Or remain on home turf this Saturday to open their RSEQ schedule against McGill.
While teams from the three other conferences were still in preparation mode, league action kicked off on Sunday in Ontario with No. 2 Queen's (52-1 vs. York), No. 4 Western (50-14 vs. Toronto), No. 6 McMaster (51-24 vs. Ottawa) and No. 7 Guelph (21-7 vs. Laurier) all starting the new campaign on the right foot.
Five more OUA matchups are scheduled on Labour Day Monday, highlighted by a McMaster-Queen's duel in Kingston. Western and Guelph are at home versus newcomer Carleton (0-0) and Windsor (1-0), respectively.
In Quebec, in addition to the McGill-Laval tilt, No. 5 Montreal opens at Concordia on Saturday, while No. 8 Sherbrooke visits Bishop's on Sunday.
Out West, No. 9 Saskatchewan and No. 10 Manitoba both kick things off at home on Friday night, against Regina and Alberta, while No. 3 Calgary visits UBC on Saturday.
The AUS regular schedule starts on Sept. 6.
A grand total of 124 games will be played across the country over a three-month period, culminating with the TELUS Vanier Cup on November 23 at TELUS-Université Laval Stadium in Quebec City. This year's national semifinals – both set for Nov. 16 - will see the RSEQ and AUS champions battle in the Maritimes (Uteck Bowl), while the OUA champs visit the Canada West titlists (Mitchell Bowl).