By Alexander Cole, U Sports Correspondent
After 13 exciting weeks of U Sports football, the 52nd ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup, which will be held on Nov. 26 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont., will come down to a match between the Université de Laval Rouge et Or and the University of Calgary Dinos.
The Rouge et Or, who will be appearing in their tenth Vanier Cup match since 1999, were a force to be reckoned with all season, finishing with a record of 7-1. The team was ranked first in the nation by the U Sports top 10, and placed second in the RSEQ conference, just behind their rivals, the Université de Montréal Carabins.
Throughout their playoff run, Laval has demonstrated why they are one of the best teams in the nation. In the RSEQ semifinals, the Rouge et Or made quick work of the Concordia Stingers, with a 39-14 victory. The following week, the team narrowly edged the Carabins 20-17 in the Dunsmore Cup championship, thanks to a last minute trick play which saw quarterback Hugo Richard catch the game-winning touchdown.
In their most recent contest on Saturday, the Rouge et Or blew out the Laurier Golden Hawks in the Uteck bowl. The Golden Hawks, who were coming off a thrilling comeback victory against the Western Mustangs in the Yates Cup, were no match for the No.1-ranked Rouge et Or, dismantling Laurier 36-6 with Richard passing for two touchdowns and rushing for one.
The Dinos on the other hand, are fresh off of a 50-24 Mitchell Bowl victory against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.
Calgary had a strong campaign, finishing the regular season with a 6-2 record, good enough for second place in the Canada West conference, finishing just behind the Regina Rams. The Dinos were led this season by quarterback Jimmy Underdahl, who went down with a knee injury near the end of the regular season. Despite solid play from backup Adam Sinagra, Underdahl came back from his injury in the second half of the Mitchell Bowl – throwing for 217 yards and two touchdowns - to lead the team to a national championship berth.
In the Canada West semifinals, the Dinos knocked off the Saskatchewan Huskies 47-17, before being crowned conference champions, eliminating the reigning Vanier Cup champion UBC Thunderbirds 46-43.
Saturday’s big game will be a rematch of the 2013 Vanier Cup, where the Rouge et Or won their eighth banner with a 25-14 victory at home. Both teams are returning to the national championship game for the first time since, each making their 10th appearance. The two sides also met in the 2010 final, with Laval claiming a 29-2 win, also at Telus-UL Stadium. Laval is 8-1 in the Vanier Cup, while Calgary sports a 4-5 record, with their last championship coming in 1995.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, with the game airing coast-to-coast on Sportnet and TVA Sports.