1. McMaster Maruaders
With their Week 1 overtime victory over the Guelph Gryphons, the McMaster Marauders (7-1) will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and have the home field advantage throughout the postseason.
Led by quarterback Marshall Ferguson, the pass heavy Marauders finished second in OUA, with 2529 yards passing this season while averaging 316 yards per game. With a solid passing game and a complimentary running attack, the Maraduers chewed up the clock on their opponents, averaging over 35 minutes per game while on offense, the highest amount of time in the league.
On the defensive side of the ball, McMaster features two of the best ball hawks in the game: Joey Cupido and Steven Ventresca. The two combined for 6 of McMasters 11 interceptions, which placed them second in the league.
When they couldn't get it done through the air or on the ground, they relied heavily on the right leg of kicker Tyler Crapigna. Crapigna had himself a year that no one is soon to forget as he wrote his name into the record books as he broke both the OUA and CIS record for most field goals in a career with 84.
2. Guelph Gryphons
Despite falling to the Marauders in Week 1, the Guelph Gryphons (7-1) are poised for a deep run in the playoffs having won 7 straight games. The Gryphons high powered offence finished the year second in the league in scoring (343) and points (42.9). Quarterback Jazz Lindsey threw for 1731 yards along with 13 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions.
One of the Gryphons biggest strengths is their special teams, especially punt returns. Guelph was tops in OUA this season returning the ball 835 yards on 56 attempts or 14.9 yard per attempt.
Not to be outdone by his rival in the maroon and white, Guelph kicker Daniel Ferraro also saw his name written into the OUA and CIS record books. With 3 field goals on Saturday, Ferraro established a new CIS record for field goals in a season with 26. This tops the previous record of 25 set by Christopher Milo from Laval in 2008.
6. Laurier Golden Hawks @ 3. Western Mustangs - Saturday, November 1st, 2014 (1:00 pm)
The Laurier Golden Hawks (4-4) know firsthand how hard it is to go into London and knock off the Western Mustangs (6-2). Following their last minute loss to McMaster, Laurier was given this task earlier in the season and it definitely didn't go as they had planned.
However, that defeat was a learning experience for the young Hawks and one they will surely revisit as they prepare this week for Western.
The Golden Hawks are a run first and pass second offence that averaged 266.2 yards per game on the ground which ranked them 2nd in OUA.
Leading the charge was running back Dillon Campbell who leads both OUA and CIS in total rushing yards (1458), rushing yards per game (182.2) and touchdowns (13).
If the Golden Hawks are to have any success they will need to find a way to slow down the high powered Mustang offence who averaged an astonishing 51.9 points per game. In their previous victory over the Golden Hawks, the Mustangs were led by Stevenson Bone who got the start for an injured Will Finch. While it is much too early to know, that might again be the case this weekend, as Finch left Saturdays game versus the Windsor Lancers with an upper body injury.
Not only are the Mustangs dominant on the offensive side of the ball, but they also control the defensive side as well. During the regular season, Western only allowed 19.0 points against per game. However, even more troublesome for the Golden Hawks, is that they gave up a league low 83.0 yard rushing per game.
The Golden Hawks will need to establish the running game early if they are to have any chance of pulling off an upset against the Mustangs.
5. Ottawa Gee-Gees @ 4. Windsor Lancers - Saturday, November 1st, 2014 (1:00 pm)
Fifth-year Windsor Lancers (5-3) quarterback and Windsor, Ont. native Austin Kennedy set a goal at the beginning of the season: he wanted to host a playoff game at Windsor. After another strong season from the ever consistent quarterback, he made sure he got his wish.
Thanks to their October 10th 39-29 victory against the Ottawa Gee-Gees (5-4), Windsor will welcome Ottawa to the not so friendly confines of Alumni Field in Windsor next Saturday afternoon.
After starting the season 4-0, Windsor has sputtered a bit down the stretch winning only one of their final four games. However, it was none bigger than the aforementioned win over the Gee-Gees.
One of the many weapons at Kennedy's disposal is receiver Evan Pszczonak. In 7 games this season, Pszczonak averaged 101.4 yards per game and 7 touchdowns.
Not to be out-gunned, the Gee-Gees also have themselves one of the top arms in the game in quarterback Derek Wendel. During the regular season, Wendel was a top 5 quarterback in the league in many statistical categories including: completion percentage (62.4%), yards (2172) and touchdowns (16).
The teams stack up pretty evenly on the defensive side of the ball but one x-factor is Gee-Gees defensive tackle Ettore Lattanzio, who once again led OUA in sacks this season with 8.
If Lattanzio can find his way to the quarterback and disrupt Kennedy, the Gee-Gees could find themselves upsetting the Lancers and moving on to the semifinals.