At the close of the Mitchell Bowl and the Uteck Bowl, the 2016 Vanier Cup matchup is set. The Calgary Dinos and the Laval Rouge et Or will meet in Hamilton, Ontario to battle for the national title. The faceoff between the Canada West and RSEQ teams will be a rematch of the 2013 Vanier Cup final. Tune in to Sportsnet 360 on Saturday, November 26th to view the 52nd ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup live from Hamilton.
2016 Vanier Cup Preview: Calgary Dinos and Laval Rouge et Or
Keys to the Game
Both Calgary and Laval dominated their respective semifinal bowls to qualify for the Vanier Cup. Despite considerable hype surrounding the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, Laval would take the Uteck Bowl 36-6. The dominant victory silenced doubts of Laval’s strength and advance them to the 2016 Vanier Cup. Laval utilized their strong offence as well as shut down Laurier’s best chances to score by controlling the running game. In Calgary, the Dinos hosted the St. Francis Xavier X-Men of the AUS in the Mitchell Bowl. Following a closely contested first half, the Dinos ran away with the lead and secured their spot in the Vanier Cup with a 50-24 victory over the X-Men. This win was less straightforward, with the return of long-injured starting quarterback Jimmy Underdahl taking to the field in the second half to secure the Calgary victory.
History Between Teams
Calgary and Laval have met in the Vanier Cup previously. The team’s may be familiar historically, but not in these current lineups. Each team will have playoff tapes to study, but with little experience regarding each others strengths and weaknesses as a whole. Largely, their experience will be based in the previous times the teams have met on the national stage. This includes a Mitchell Bowl (2011), a Uteck Bowl (2008), and two Vanier Cups (2010, 2013). Currently, the Rouge et Or have a considerable upper hand based on these matchups, having won each of them. This has solidified Calgary’s role as the “underdog” team in the 2016 Vanier Cup. Due to this historical lopsided record, Laval will enter the Vanier Cup as heavy favourites to take the national title for the RSEQ.
Injuries, Graduates, and the Return of Underdahl
The Calgary Dinos would face considerable issues regarding injuries in their 2016 campaign. Despite this, the team has still managed to qualify for the Vanier Cup, having defeated defending champions the UBC Thunderbirds in order to qualify for the semifinals. This success is heavily on the back of backup quarterback Adam Sinagra, filling in for starter Underdahl since Underdahl’s victory in mid-October. Sinagra would start the Mitchell Bowl hoping to continue his successes to lead Calgary to the Vanier Cup despite Underdahl returning to the lineup. However, Underdahl would start the second half and lead Calgary to victory, reclaiming his starting role with the Dinos.
Laval would enter 2016 off of the loss of key players to graduation and pro football. Despite this, they have proven themselves strong enough to compete for a national title. However, they will have limited exposure to Underdahl. This makes preparation difficult, as Underdahl’s long absence and possibility of injury raises many questions.
Last Word on Canadian Football Vanier Cup Live Coverage
The Last Word on Canadian Football team of Casey Dulson, Christian Ryan, and Drew Yates will be at the 2016 Vanier Cup bringing you live coverage. Look for updates throughout gameday, as well as recaps following the championship event. For Twitter updates, follow @LWOSUSportsFootball. Or, follow each respective writer on twitter: @LWOSCaseyUSport, @ChristianRyanNS, and @Dyates92.
Main photo courtesy of David Moll/University of Calgary.