Written By: Mike Hogan
The 2018 OUA football season has been insane. There have been several wild finishes, some big upsets, and many outstanding individual performances.
What’s best of all? The fact that there is little playoff clarity with just two weeks left in the season. We know that Western is in the driver’s seat and that Ottawa has clinched a playoff spot. After that? Let the fun begin. There are seven teams that could finish with a 4-4 record, just not all at the same time.
The first tie-breaker is the head-to-head record between the teams. If there are more than two teams tied, common opponents and point differential then come into play. The general OUA tie breaking procedures can be found here.
Needless to say, there’s a lot to be decided in the next two weeks.
WESTERN (6-0): The ‘Stangs seem to have it in gear, but finish with their two toughest games of the season. They’re at Ottawa this week, a game that will likely decide the regular-season champion and potentially home field in the Yates Cup. They finish the season by hosting the Laurier Golden Hawks, a team with something to prove. These last two games will be a good test for the Mustangs as they head into the playoffs.
OTTAWA (5-1): The Gee-Gees finish the season with a pair of tough ones. They host Western this week, then travel to Queen’s. The Gaels will need a win to have any chance of a playoff spot, and will have two full weeks to prepare for the game. It’s a tough way to close the season, and the Gee-Gees have not clinched a first-round bye yet. They would win a head-to-head tie-breaker against Carleton, McMaster, or Guelph. They lost to Laurier and did not play Waterloo, who each could still finish with five wins.
CARLETON (4-3): The Ravens are favoured to close out their schedule with a win this week as they host York, but don’t go to sleep on the Lions – just ask Waterloo. A win and they clinch a playoff spot. The Ravens have a bye in the final week.
McMASTER (4-2): This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Marauders, but they could still end up with a first-round bye. They travel to Waterloo this week in a game with huge playoff implications, before finishing up with a trip to Windsor. If they were to finish 6-2 and in a tie for second place with Ottawa, the Gee-Gees would get the first-round bye because of their 18-11 win over Mac in Week Two. There’s a chance they could be part of a four-way tie at 5-3 with Ottawa, Carleton and Waterloo or Guelph.
GUELPH (3-3): The Gryphons finish with a pair of home games. They’re favoured to beat Toronto this week, then close out their season against Waterloo, a game that could potentially eliminate the loser. If they beat U-of-T and lose to Waterloo, they could be involved in a log jam at 4-4. They’d have a win over Laurier, but losses to Waterloo and Queen’s among teams that could end up with that same record.
WATERLOO (3-3): They were riding high after their win over Laurier, but devastated by their loss to York; a defeat that may eventually cost them a playoff spot. They finish with two tough games, at home to McMaster, then at Guelph. Both games are winnable, but losing both wouldn’t shock anyone either. Two defeats would eliminate them from post-season play, winning both would guarantee playoff action, and a split puts them into the mess that could occur at 4-4. They beat Laurier, but have yet to play another team that has a good chance to finish with a .500 record. They didn’t play Queen’s, but have Guelph in the season finale.
LAURIER (3-3): A home win over Windsor this week gets them to four wins before they head to Western. For argument’s sake, a split would leave them at 4-4. They beat Queen’s, but lost to Guelph and Waterloo, should it come to a head-to-head tie.
QUEEN’S (3-4): The Gaels have one fewer game to play than most other teams, and it won’t be easy. To have a chance to play in the post-season the Gaels have to beat Ottawa to get into the mix at 4-4. They beat Guelph, lost to Laurier, and didn’t play Waterloo.
YORK (2-4): They have to win out, which would mean upsetting the Ravens at Carleton, then beating Toronto in the Red & Blue Bowl. They lost to Guelph, but beating the Ravens would drop Carleton to 4-4, and York would have wins over them and Waterloo, though they lost to Guelph and Queen’s.
WINDSOR (1-5): Out of playoff contention.
TORONTO (0-6): Out of playoff contention.
McMASTER 27 QUEEN’S 24
Mac hung on to beat the Gaels in an intense game that featured five lead changes. The Marauders withstood a 431-yard passing day from Queen’s QB Nate Hobbs to pick up a win and all but clinch a playoff spot. Tommy Nield led the Marauders with 161 receiving yards, while Jordan Lyons pounded his way to 71 on the ground, but it was the return of Justice Allin, playing his first game since hurting his knee last year, that provided an offensive spark for McMaster. He caught seven passes for 93 yards. The Gaels receiving duo of Matteo Del Brocco and Richard Burton was virtually unstoppable. The former caught eight passes for 163 yards, the latter hauled in nine for 142 yards. Nick Liberatore had a chance to tie the game with a 54-yard field goal on the final play of the game, but his attempt fell short.
WESTERN 66 WINDSOR 14
Cedric Joseph had the highest rushing total in OUA history, and it only took him one half to do it. He carried the ball 17 times for 355 yards before being taken out at halftime with Western ahead 49-7. The total broke former York Yeoman Andre Durie’s conference record of 349 set against Ottawa in 2003. It’s the third-highest total in U SPORTS history, trailing only Calgary’s Chris Lewis, who rushed for 395 against UBC in 1994, and Jamall Lee of Bishop’s, who lit up McGill for 391 yards in 2008. Joseph had three TDs runs in the half, one of 90 yards, another of 71. Trey Humes took over and carried the ball 13 times for 98 yards and another touchdown.
LAURIER 37 CARLETON 31
If you weren’t entertained by this game you probably don’t like football. There were nine lead changes, three TDs of 45 or more yards, two of which came on successive offensive plays, resulting in two lead changes and the game-winning points. Freshman Connor Carusello got the start at quarterback for Laurier and responded with a 383-yard, four TD, one INT performance. Brentyn Hall was his favourite target, catching six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Michael Arruda threw for 373 yards and three TDs for Carleton, including 142 yards to Phil Iloki, who had a pair of TD grabs. Both defenses made rushing yards tough to come by. Laurier kicker Nathan Mesher was injured and had to leave the game. A pair of receivers picked up the slack and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. did the punting, while Nick Petermann handled the placekicking, hitting a pair of conversions. A first-round playoff rematch would be outstanding for fans, though probably not so much for the coaching staffs.
OTTAWA 53 TORONTO 21
The Gee-Gees continued to roll and clinched a spot in the playoffs with their win at Toronto. Varsity opened the scoring when Connor Ennis hit Nolan Lovegrove for a 13-yard TD pass, but U-of-O took over from there. Carter Matheson caught TD passes of 65, 35, and 6 yards, finishing with nine catches for 258 yards. Sawyer Buettner passed for 405 yards and four TDs. Dawson Odei carried the ball 20 times for 131 yards and a score. Jordan Gillespie recorded ten tackles for the Blues, with a sack, a tackle for a loss, and a pass breakup. Ottawa coach Jamie Barresi would not be happy with his team taking 17 penalties for 155 yards.