As conference finals have come to an end, U Sports football enters national semifinals. The 2016 Mitchell Bowl will determine one of the two final teams fighting for the national title in the 2016 Vanier Cup. This weekend, the battle comes down to the St. Francis Xavier X-Men of the AUS and the Calgary Dinos of Canada West.
The Calgary Dinos will host the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in their own McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta. The 2016 Mitchell Bowl will be aired live on Sportsnet 360 this Saturday, November 19th.
2016 Mitchell Bowl Preview: St. Francis Xavier X-Men at Calgary Dinos
St. F.X. defeated the Mount Allison Mounties to claim the 2016 Loney Bowl and qualify for the Mitchell Bowl. Meanwhile, the Dinos defeated the UBC Thunderbirds in a historic matchup in the Hardy Cup to advance. The 2016 Mitchell Bowl will be the first ever matchup between the X-Men and the Dinos. As a result of this inaugural meeting, there is no basis for comparison on these two teams with their nonexistent history. This unprecedented clash of the Canadian coasts will be set on a national stage on Sportsnet 360 with the Dinos hosting the event in Calgary.
Keys to the Game
Despite perceived similarities between these two teams, the divisions that they hail from have considerable differences. The Calgary Dinos share a division with the likes of UBC and the Regina Rams. This has kept the Dinos on their toes all season and fighting hard for their place in the Mitchell Bowl. In defending their 2015 Loney Bowl title, the X-Men have been met with very little challange from their AUS counterparts. The X-Men boast an undefeated record within their division, with their only loss coming from RSEQ‘s Concordia Stingers. This could spell trouble as they wander outside their Atlantic division once again.
Vanier Cup Droughts:
As the Dinos and X-Men fight to secure a spot in the 2016 Vanier Cup, it is worth noting that neither team has claimed the national title in quite some time. For the Calgary Dinos, a title in 2016 would mark their first Vanier Cup title since 1995. Their most recent Mitchell Bowl title comes considerably more recently, having claimed the victory in 2013. The X-Men’s drought is significant, with a single Vanier Cup title dating back to 1966. This separation in regards to titles is another mark of differences between the AUS and Canada West divisions. The most recent Vanier Cup appearance for Canada West was last year’s national title for UBC, the team the Dinos defeated to reach the Mitchell Bowl. The most recent Vanier Cup appearance for the AUS was a Saint Mary’s Huskies loss in 2007.
High Scoring Offence and Heavy Defence:
St. F.X. boast one of the most effective offences in Canada with the pairing of quarterback Tivon Cook and running back Jordan Socholotiuk. The pair would annihilate team records across 2016. Meanwhile, the Dinos would find their starting quarterback, Jimmy Underdahl, sidelined due to injury. Backup quarterback Adam Sinagra has filled the starting role successfully and looks to continue this streak against the X-Men.
The key to the Dinos game is their strong defence, as they have registered 13 sacks and 12 interceptions on the season. The Dinos will look to use this defensive edge to halt the historic season of Cook. St. F.X. has struggled against highly defensive teams such as the Acadia Axemen in 2016. As both the X-Men and Dinos tend to rely on runaway leads, they struggle when points are close in the fourth quarter. Both teams must find this offensive and defensive balance to advance to the Vanier Cup.
2016 Vanier Cup Opponent
The outcome of the 2016 Mitchell Bowl will decide whether the St. Francis Xavier X-Men or Calgary Dinos advance to the Vanier Cup to compete for a national title. The victor will face the winner of the 2016 Uteck Bowl. This matchup features the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks of the OUA and the Laval Rouge et Or of the RSEQ. Both of these teams enter the Uteck Bowl with 9-1 records, promising fierce competition for a chance to play on a national stage. The game is to take place in Laval’s Telus Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19th. As well as the Mitchell Bowl, the Uteck Bowl can be viewed live on Sportsnet 360.
Main photo courtesy of David Moll/University of Calgary.