OUA football's eastern-most and western-most teams meet at Alumni Field in Windsor this Friday at 7 p.m. in the OUA.tv Marquee Matchup Presented by Wilson.
The game holds heavy implication for two teams battling for a postseason berth in one of the tightest playoff races in recent memory.
Ottawa now sits at 4-2, bouncing back from the heartbreaking Panda Game loss to Carleton and winning its next two games over Toronto and Waterloo by a combined score of 92-35.
"I told the players to bury it (the Panda Game loss) and just move on," said Gee-Gees head coach Jamie Barresi. "Don't feel sorry for yourselves, and don't let other people prompt you to feel sorry for yourself."
The Gee-Gees currently hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the standings, but have played one more game than the 3-2 Carleton Ravens who, thanks to the Panda Game win, hold the tiebreaker on Ottawa.
Windsor, at 4-1, is a team that controls its own destiny but closes out the season with three tough games beginning this week, followed by a road game against Carleton at the school's homecoming, and another road game against Western to finish the season.
Despite beating Laurier and having identical 4-1 records, it was the Golden Hawks who were voted into the CIS Top 10 this week, not the Lancers who are still trying to earn national respect. Many will point to their Week 1 win that was awarded as forfeiture when Queen's used an ineligible player. Had the original result counted, a Queen's win, Windsor would sit at 3-2, behind Ottawa and tied with Carleton. The Lancers were also swallowed up last week by the Guelph Gryphons defence, losing 24-9 and failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season.
Regardless, though, it's still a 'win and you're in' situation that the Lancers are hoping to take advantage of.
"Over the next three weeks we're in a great situation where we kind of control our own destiny and each week gives us a better opportunity to move up in the standings," said Lancers head coach Joe D'Amore. "We're really in the process now of playing playoff style football against three really good teams."
Another storyline to watch is Windsor quarterback Austin Kennedy's pursuit of the OUA career touchdown pass record. The Windsor native currently sits at 74 TD passes; five behind former Ottawa quarterback Josh Sacobie's career record of 79.
"Everyone is aware of it, but it's obviously not something we game plan for," said D'Amore. "We're going to try and let it come in the process of the game if there's opportunity to throw touchdown passes. If we're on the two-yard line we're not going to throw the ball just to get him a touchdown record, we're going to do what's best to get the ball in the end zone. Nothing would make me happier than to see (Kennedy get the record), but we're not going into football games to get a record, we're trying to win."
Both teams possess similarly powered offences; Ottawa is averaging 36.3 points per game, while Windsor is putting up 35.2 per game.
The defensive stats are also similar, though Windsor holds a slight advantage allowing 20.8 points per game, compared to 24.5 per game allowed by the Gee-Gees.
Perhaps the biggest disparity is in passing yards allowed. Windsor currently boasts the best pass defence in OUA, allowing just 168.4 yards per game, almost 100 yards per game fewer than Ottawa's 262 per game average.
One X-factor on the Gee-Gees defence is Ettore Lattanzio. The fourth-year defensive tackle was described by Coach D'Amore as "the best defensive lineman in the country" and leads OUA and CIS in sacks with seven. Last year, he recorded four sacks in Ottawa's win over Windsor.
Both teams can air the ball out, Kennedy leads OUA in passing yards per game with 290.6, but Ottawa quarterback Derek Wendel is not far behind him, he ranks tied for fourth with 274.3 yards per game.
The weather is getting cooler, but the OUA playoff race is just heating up, so be sure check out OUA.tv for the Marquee Matchup, and all the other action from around the league! The game can also be seen live locally on TVCogeco Windsor.
Marquee Matchup by the Numbers
12 – Touchdown passes for Gee-Gees quarterback Derek Wendel; he is tied for first in OUA with McMaster's Marshall Ferguson.
134.8 – Receiving yards per game for Windsor's Evan Pszczonak. He's been Austin Kennedy's number one option this season, and ranks second in receiving yards (539) and tied for first in touchdown receptions (5).
45-15 – The score in last year's matchup between the two teams; a game the Gee-Gees won.
3 – Consecutive playoff appearances for the Lancers. A win against Ottawa would clinch a playoff spot and extend the streak to four.