TORONTO (CIS) – Thanks to a spectacular comeback win in their conference opener, the University of Montreal Carabins top the second media poll of the 2016 CIS football season, relegating the reigning Vanier Cup champion UBC Thunderbirds to second position in the new national rankings.
Montreal (1-0) moves up from No. 2 after receiving 13 first-place votes and 276 points from the Football Reporters of Canada panel. UBC (1-0) earned more first-place nods, with 16, but ended up with 264 points in the overall voting.
Rounding out the second Top 10 of the new campaign are the No. 3 Calgary Dinos (1-0 / 220 points / up four positions), No. 4 Laval Rouge et Or (0-1 / 207 / down one), No. 5 McMaster Marauders (2-0 / 202 / up three), No. 6 Carleton Ravens (1-1 / 125 / up three), No. 7 Western Mustangs (1-1 / 97 / down three), No. 8 Manitoba Bisons (0-1 / 76 / down three), No. 9 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (2-0 / 62 / up one) and No. 10 Guelph Gryphons (1-1 / 41 / down four).
McMaster was the only other team to receive No. 1 consideration, meriting one nod.
The Carabins, who have reached the Vanier Cup final each of the past two years including the first national title in program history in 2014, opened their regular schedule on Saturday night in Quebec City against archrival Laval, and the much-anticipated matchup between RSEQ powerhouses lived up to the billing.
Trailing 21-12 after three quarters, Montreal outscored the Rouge et Or 12-0 in the final stanza, including 10 points in the final two minutes, to stun the 13,908 in attendance at TELUS-UL Stadium with a 24-21 decision. The Carabins have now won three of the past four head-to-head meetings in Quebec City, including the last two RSEQ conference finals.
Meanwhile in Vancouver, UBC opened the defence of its first CIS championship since 1997 with an up-and-down 39-24 victory over visiting Alberta, also on Saturday. While the offence led by Vanier Cup MVP Michael O'Connor looked convincing, the Thunderbird did allow 25 first downs and 509 total yards to the Golden Bears, including 312 yards on the ground.
In other Week 2 action involving Top-10 teams, Calgary travelled to Winnipeg and edged Manitoba 23-14; McMaster downed Toronto 32-5 in Hamilton; Carleton scored a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes to beat visiting Western 38-31; Laurier crushed York 74-3; Guelph was stunned 33-29 by Windsor, a team that had been blown out 78-6 by Western a week earlier in its OUA opener.
This week's schedule is highlighted by a duel at the top in Calgary between No. 2 UBC and the No. 3 Dinos, Friday at 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time (Shaw TV/Access & CanadaWest.TV). The last time the two teams met at McMahon Stadium, in last year's Canada West final, the Thunderbirds upset previously undefeated Calgary 34-26 to capture the Hardy Cup.
Also on Friday, top-ranked Montreal faces Bishop's (0-1) at 7 p.m. in its home opener at CEPSUM Stadium.
Week 3 also marks the start of the AUS league schedule, with Saint Mary's visiting Acadia and Mount Allison hosting reigning conference champion StFX. Both games are set for Saturday at 2 p.m. Atlantic Time (Bell Aliant Fibe TV1 & AUStv.ca).
NOTES: Sportsnet and TVA Sports are once again the official broadcasters of the CIS football semifinals and final in 2016... The ArcelorMittal Dofasco Mitchell Bowl (AUS at Canada West) and the Uteck Bowl (OUA at RSEQ) are set for Saturday, Nov. 19, while the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup follows on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. ET at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont.... For all the information on the 52nd Vanier Cup (including tickets) visit vaniercup.com.